While we had our share of Taketo fantasies and a Ritsu ero-freakout (the trigger word was pretty predictable this time) this was certainly the least service-oriented episode of the series so far. Continuing to give each of the girls a chance at the spotlight, this time it was the turn of Chief, the mysterious ojou-sama at the head of the newspaper circle who’s been often-present but rarely developed. An offhand comment about the newspaper circle being in trouble and how it’s end would cause her to disappear leads the intellectually curious author Taketo to wonder just who this odd girl is and where she came from. This leads him on a series with misadventures with allies predictable (Utae) and surprising (Ran) that has them first believing Chief is a ghost, then an alien.
While there’s no question Ojou-sama has an odd ability to seemingly disappear into thin air, I can’t imagine in this context we’re really supposed to believe she’s either of those things. But there’s also the odd fact that Ran’s facial recognition software places the Chief in a series of photographs dating back over 100 years (one of them also containing the USS Enterprise). And the matter of a strange green light emanating from some kind of man-sized capsules inside a giant freezer in which Taketo and Utae find themselves trapped. The oddest thing about all this is that this quirky series gives us no answers whatsoever – not about why the newspaper circle was in trouble, not about who the Chief really is, and not about that freezer. I assume we’ll get further information at some point and that this wasn’t a complete red herring, but the main purpose of the episode seems to have been to pair off Taketo and Utae and make sure Fukune was aware of that pairing.
Which is fine, because fortunately Taketo and Utae are fun to watch together. Utae isn’t really interested in the Chief, at least at first – she just wants to hang out with Taketo – and she appears to almost confess to him twice. Once, she confesses to being a fan of Taketo the author, and then what appears to be a real confession with poor timing – given that both of them are about to pass out from hypothermia. Taketo may or may nor have gotten the idea, but as far as Fukune is concerned Taketo and Utae sure look like a couple. She appears about ready to confess herself, but Utae’s always just a step behind Taketo and the one time she isn’t, we get treated to one of the best usages of the awkward pause I’ve seen in anime for quite some time. As Fukune is still wrestling with the decision about whether to accept the offer to the music school in France, things might be close to critical mass here – even the Chief tells Taketo that he’d better start chasing Fukune, and stop worrying about chasing her.
I still can’t see Taketo choosing Utae, though this episode certainly brings the possibility into the equation. And she’s a great choice – smart, friendly, beautiful, and clearly crazy about him. But being the crazy romantic he is I don’t see Taketo backing away from his fairy-tale, “love at first sight” ideal of Fukune. And she, after all, seems to love Taketo as well – if either of them can just get the words out. Either way, this series remains as odd as a three-dollar bill, and I like that about it. It seems awkward at times, but there’s a determined individuality to the way the show never seems to follow standard anime practices in telling it’s story while gently mocking anime clichés that really appeals to me. And really, how can you not love it when Raika blurts out “Have your blue balls finally driven you crazy?” to Taketo?