It’s funny, by far the most irritating thing about S1 was me was the excessive focus on Souta and Inami’s dysfunctional relationship but it was the best part of the episode this week. Of course a huge factor in the reason it isn’t annoying me nearly as much is that the constant physical abuse has been turned way, way down. And Inami is a heckuva lot cuter when she’s not punching Souta, as witness her recording and replaying ad nauseum of Souta’s reaction to her toddler picture – “Inami, you’re so cute!” I guess she’ll have to take what she can get, but I suspect if he’d known it would make her so happy Souma never would have suggested the picture (which he never should have had in the first place, of course).
Poor Souta. I imagine it would be traumatic for any big brother to find out his little sister has eclipsed him in height, but for Souta – driven to a chibi fetish by a lifetime of abuse from big sisters – the pain was understandably severe. Thankfully there’s always Popura to make it all better by pretending to be his imouto, though that’s what set Inami off in a depression in the first place. And that’s where Souma comes in. He’s a character I generally find amusing despite his despicable nature, and his interference with Inami was both totally in character and pretty amusing. The guy’s never met someone else’s business he didn’t think was his business, so it’s not like he’d stay on the sidelines.
It was when Kirio arrived that for the first time that I felt Souma had crossed the line from mischievous to genuinely evil. It’s pretty obvious that he knows more about “Yamada” and her family than anyone else at Wagnaria. And obviously, he’s going to insert himself into any situation because that’s what he does. But I thought his trickery in preventing the hapless Kirio from finding his sister was genuinely cruel. It could be argued that he’s doing it because he genuinely thinks she’s happier at the restaurant and knows something about her home life that he wants to protect her from (he certainly knows her real name). It can just as easily be argued that he’s doing it in order to be a total prick. Either way, it doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned – he’s a tool in this episode and it ticked me off. Even if he is trying to keep Yamada around for her own sake, it’s not his place to play God. Kirio is genuinely worried about his sister and wants to see her desperately, and it’s cruel of him to stand in their way.
Of course, telling Souma not to play God is tantamount to waving a red cape in front of a bull – playing God is what Souma lives for. And even he seemed to realize at the mall that he was crossing the line, and that an extremely erratic 16 year-old is in no position to make good decisions about her life. But that didn’t stop him from keeping up the charade, even at the expense of his own pocketbook. My fear is that this turns into a long, drawn-out trial and becomes annoying like Inami’s punching did in the first season. I don’t want episode after episode of near-misses with the Yamada siblings – they need to get them together and deal with whatever it is (probably involved Kirio’s hesitancy to talk about their mother) that drove her to run away.
On the plus side, Kirio provides a welcome change to the chemistry between Souta and Inami. Souta is doing a terrible job hiding the jealousy he feels every time he sees Kirio and Inami talking, and I think it’s going to get to the point soon enough that he won’t even be able to fool himself. He’s certainly not fooling anyone else, as witness not just his desire to hustle Kirio out of the restaurant ASAP but the fact that he actually whipped out the self-defense tactics Kazue taught up and opened up a can o’ whupass on Kirio. Those same techniques could have been used to protect himself from Inami, of course, but he’s too much of a gentleman for that. Or could there be another reason, too?