We’re five eps in, we’ve had only one appearance each by Makoto/-chan and Hosaka (and no sign of either in the preview), and yet things are still humming along at a fine pace. It’s a testament to how deep the cast of Minami-ke is that it can go in so many different directions to mine comic gold – including focusing strictly on the Minami sisters – without missing a beat. I don’t think the show is operating quite at the level of the first season, but so far I think it’s clearly ahead and Okaeri and Okawari.
I had no idea last week when I referenced Fujioka-kun in relation to Hosaka (and Mako-chan) on the masculinity scale that he’d be doing his best Hosaka impression this week. Indeed, Fujioka stands as the clear star of this episode – he certainly had as much screen time as Kana and more than either Chiaki or Haruka, and delivers his most memorable facial expressions in four seasons. Fujioka is a bit of a vanilla character at times – he comes pretty close to being a normal by Minami-ke standards – but he’s at his comic best when his passion for Kana drives him to the extremes of neuroses. He gets a little unintentional push this week from Akira, who’s sort of the forgotten member of the Minami “B” family. After being invited by Kana for chilled noodles, then disinvited for the crime of wearing his winter uniform too long, he ends up as a sort of lonely-hearts counselor for Fujioka, dispensing dubious pure-pure boy advice to a Fujioka increasingly desperate to score some face time with Kana.
The results of this are pretty predictable, this being Minami-ke – misunderstandings ensue, with Kana convincing herself that Fujioka is in full-on banchou mode, terrorizing poor Akira, only to be set straight by Keiko. But he does get himself included in the noodle trip in a pity invite, though his performance disappoints his life-coach Akira. The saga continues as Kana and chums design a chart to figure out what to do after the last day of school ends, with Fujioka ecstatic to see chance favoring him with a trip to a family restaurant (Akira’s ideal dating ground) before realizing that all the other options were the stuff he was supposed to plan with Kana at the family restaurant (I especially liked “Karaoke till we’re hoarse!”). In actuality, Kana and Fujioka is about as realistic a Minami relationship as we get in this non-romcom (when the competition is basically Makoto-Haruka and Hosaka-Haruka, that isn’t saying much) – they’re of an age, and Kana actually seems to like Fujioka well enough. They even “hold hands” after a fashion – though it’s quite alarming for Touma, and I doubt that’s how Kana would remember it.
Among the other standouts are Chiaki in Haruka’s middle-school swimsuit – which fits her like a potato sack – Chiaki cooking a series of fatty meals to help her buoyancy in the pool, only to have them all pirated by Kana, Chiaki being utterly hopeless at calisthenics, Uchida’s summer plan chart (proving that she’s indeed a budding baka on the Kana level) and Haruka (damn it) continuing to be terrified by the two-piece. But my comic highlight definitely comes when the gang goes to the park to shoot off fireworks, only to be left without a lighter when Haruka dashes home to check the stove. Naturally, these being children, nobody has one – but Kana has packed a complete array of primitive firestarting tools – including flints.and a hand drill. I would ask why, but I really need to take my own advice here: never ask “Why?” with Minami-ke.