See, here’s the thing: I loved this episode of Minami-ke. But I’m somewhat flummoxed as to how to talk about it. In a show like Working!! that’s plot and character-driven despite being a comedy, blogging is a little easier. But with a series like M-k, the humor is all about the tone and the timing – and how much can a blogger really write about tone and timing? I suspect that this is the sort of humor that either “hits” you or it doesn’t, but even if it does the impact is very much in the moment. Or so it seems to me, anyway.
I guess that’s enough prevaricating – this is only a blog post about an illustration of the three Minami sisters and the simple life they lead – please don’t expect too much from it. Fortunately as far as the episode itself goes, you can expect pretty much the same thing you’ve been getting all season with “Tadaima” – some of the best comedy we’ve seen since the first season. Any episode that starts out with Touma in Chiaki’s bikini is off on a pretty good footing (I confess I laughed as I only now realize she refers to herself as “Ore” – it definitely fits).
Funnily enough I commented last week that Touma was conspicuously absent from the beach trip – and that point came home to roost in the first sketch, featuring a “vacation” to the Minami house that’s Kana’s way of making it up to Touma for missing out on the beach. This is straightforward humor of the Minami-ke grade school division – everyone operating on about that level of baka-ness, certainly including Kana. We get a ghost story session (featuring a very sleepy Haruka, recruited as protection by Chiaki) and a spectacularly bad pun from Uchida – who surely reigns as Queen Baka among the chibis in this series. “The Breadful Vacuum Cleaner” indeed – the Japanese do love their awful puns – but at least we got a glimpse of Hosaka, and for once the fantasy sequence wasn’t in his own mind.
I shouldn’t have to say too much about the mosquito sketch, because anyone who’s ever been a child (I assume that includes most of you) will recognize something of their childhood in it, if not the exact routine itself. That was about as authentic as any routine I’ve seen in this series, and it also marks the return of pretty much the last returning cast member who hasn’t already made an appearance this season, “Uncle” Takeru (Asanuma Shintarou – who also plays Sensei in “Sensei and Ninnomiya-kun”. Sensei in now up to “Yonnomiya-kun”, btw). He’s an interesting case in that, as far as I can remember, he’s pretty much the only adult (apart, I suppose, from the eldest Minami brother) who makes anything like regular appearances in this series.
Sadly for Takeru, his role is pretty much to be the designated loser in the Minami family – the younger girls can barely disguise their slightly contemptuous pity for him, though Haruka always tries her best to ease the pain. This time around he’s on “paid leave” and apparently mourning a broken relationship with someone named Reiko (please let it not be the same Reiko that’s in Kana’s class). After some slightly disturbing pleading from Kana, “Mr. Generous” ends up taking the girls – somehow Touma, Yoshino and Uchida invite themselves along – for kaiten-zushi. As generally delightful as this last sketch is, easily my favorite part (even more than Kana trading up from squid to O-Toro) is Chiaki’s frighteningly adorable creative math in avoiding Takeru’s 1000¥ per person limit, which she ends up justifying by saying the difference is accounted for by Fujioka’s (bear, not boy) share. The question is this: is Chiaki really bad at math, or really bad at lying?