Wow – did Binbougami really just go there?
That was certainly an eye-opening episode, but on balance it was definitely the weakest of the series for me so far. This was really the first time the character side of the equation felt off – this was a bit syrupy, heavy-handed and too close to manipulative. So far Binbougami Ga! has been surprisingly good at handling character drama with a light touch for a show that started out looking like a completely ironic screwball satire, but this appears to have been an off week.
Given that’s what bothered me, it’s no surprise that it was mostly the second half of the episode that veered off the rails – but there was some head-scratching going on in the first half too. For starters, I almost had to rewind and double-check because I couldn’t quite believe it had really happened – but did those three girls in Ichiko’s class just try and get her gang-raped? It’s certainly not news that high school girls can be indescribably evil to each other, and that sort of thing has been known to happen (certainly in anime) – but boy, did it feel out of context here. It was the way such a heinous act was being brushed off so easily that really had me thinking I must have misread the moment – whatever mode this series is in, that whole thing felt totally out of place to me.
The worst part though, was the aftermath. I mean, honestly – those three girls do something so evil for such a petty reason, and the upshot from Rindou is “Hey, let’s all try and get along” and they stare on as the heartwarming ending takes place and all is forgiven? Sorry, no – I recognize that this is a comedy, but karma’s a bitch – and so are those three. That was a horrendous thing to do and that’s why it’s such an unhealthy direction for a comedy series like Binbougami to go – it either ends up being trivialized (which is exactly what happened) or dealing with the reality of it takes the show to a much darker place than it really should be going.
It’s funny, because I like Rindou a lot, and it’s certainly great to hear Tomatsu Haruka doing a voice that’s so different from what we’ve heard her do before. But the chemistry of the second act was just off. Where Momiji is involved, there’s usually enough acidity in scenes that touch on Ichiko’s vulnerable side to keep them from feeling cloying – while this show can pull off sincere, I don’t think it can pull off sentimental. Maybe Rindou is just too nice, and that ironic edge is lost. In any case, by the time we were introduced to Ichiko’s old friend Kurumi (Rie Kugimiya, vis flashback) as the treacherous grade-school yandere who’s the reason why Ichiko won’t allow herself to get close to friends, I was pretty much a lost cause for the week. Hopefully things get back into balance in the next episode, and we return to the sometime hilarious and flinty-edged Binbougami I’ve grown so fond of.