The difference between Yozora and Ume from Ben-To is that if I could pick pick one Yozora scene to excise from every episode, I might just not hate her – in fact, I might just feel sorry for her. Alas, that’s not how it works, and she always manages to ruin it sooner or later.
This episode fell a little short of the mark for me, after a very promising start. Ironically for a beach episode, the stuff after they arrived at the beach was nowhere near as funny and interesting as the stuff before they arrived. The introductory portion of the episode was filled with hilarious little touches, perhaps my favorite of which was Kobato and Maria playing Old Maid and constantly luring the other into picking the Old Maid with a gentle nudge of the card. I also enjoyed Rika using the interlocks between the cars as a turn-on – in fact I pretty much always find Rika a pleasure, but it sadly looks as if she’s going to end up being a comic device rather than a true character with real development.
Somehow, the beach episode portion of the beach episode just didn’t end up being as funny as it should have been. I thought the send-up of beach episodes with each Neighbors Club member striking a pose and shouting “It’s the beach!” had huge potential, but it ended up falling flat. And while Rika’s homoerotic “Excalibur!” fantasy about Kodaka and Yukimura (dream on, Rika – I think you’d get quite a shock if you knew what I suspect) was clever, the requisite “Yozora being a sadistic bitch” moment came in the form of a disastrous request by Sena for help with the sunscreen. I admit it’s pretty stupid for Sena to ask Yozora for help (or for anything) but as always, Yozora took it well past the point where it was funny and to the point where it was downright disturbing. The stuff she was saying to Sena wasn’t teasing, it was downright cruel. It does provide a nice contrast between Yozora and Kodaka though, as he once again spares Sena’s feelings by pretending he didn’t see her breasts in the aftermath.
What I haven’t figured out is if that stuff Yozora said – or any of the more extreme stuff she does to Sena – is supposed to be funny, or a display of just how disturbed she is. The best dark humor always pushes the line of making the viewer uncomfortable (one of the funniest shows ever, “Fawlty Towers”, frequently has the audience wincing in dismay at what Basil gets up to) but I’m truly unsure whether those attacks are supposed to be funny at all. In any case, there weren’t a lot of laughs in the second half even from the stuff that definitely was intended to be funny. We had a round of the ghost story bit that fell flat, though there was a chuckle or two to be had when all the girls asked Kodaka to go to the bathroom with them (except Rika, who just wanted to sleep together).
The most relevant part of the ghost story round was Yozora’s tale focusing on a friendship betrayed, which brought Kodaka’s mind back to the “boy” he abandoned when he moved away. It seems more likely than not we’re going to get a final arc focused around Kodaka and Yozora, building up to the big reveal and then the aftermath of it. That figures to be somewhat less interesting than the last few eps have been, at least for me, as I find the episodes centered around Yozora a lot less interesting than the Sena ones. It’s certainly becoming obvious that both Sena and Yozora are noticing with growing concern every time Kodaka spends any time alone with either, and I can only think that will add to the enmity between them. I’m sure we’re not going to get a romance ending to this series, but I hope it doesn’t generate into an all-out war between then two lead girls over Kodaka (though I wouldn’t mind seeing Sena land a few blows for a change).