Not even Cthulhu Deities are immune from the immutable power of table tennis, but Haiyore! is back after its short hiatus this week with a pool episode that pretty much continues the theme and style of the second season uninterrupted.
I’m struck by a couple of things with this series lately, the first being that it doesn’t seem quite as zany and intentionally stupid as it did in the first season. The stories are e bit more character-driven and the more bizarre gags seem more infrequent, which I don’t necessarily see as a move for the better. You still get winners like the Cast Away homage with Wilson and the very appropriate Nagasarete Airontou reference, but not as often as we used to.
The other interesting change, at least for me, is that I’m liking Kuuko much better than Nyaruko this go-around – both as a comedic device and as a potential romantic partner for Mahiro. Her lust for Nyaruko goes on seemingly unabated and that gag isn’t really any funnier now than it was last year, but there’s a lingering something in the air with Mahiro – it’s been building all season, crescendoed with the pretend-engagement, and it hasn’t gone away. These two have chemistry, plain and simple, and Kuuko definitely knows it. I’m not even sure if the writers intended it, to be honest – but fictional characters are like real people, the chemistry happens between some and not others.
Apart from that, we got some very odd and random cutaways to Hastur frolicking with Luhy (who definitely fills out a swimsuit nicely), which seem to imply a crush on Hastur that somehow flew past me if it’s been hinted at already (either that, or I’ve forgotten it). Hastur remains sadly on the outside of the plot looking in, and they’re not even really going through the motions anymore as far as his interest in Mahiro is concerned. Lastly, we have Mom (she also fills out a swimsuit more than admirably) proving that dexterity with cutlery runs in the family. And thank goodness, as Nyaruko and Kuuko were cooking the swimmers like lobsters.
Mushibugyou – 08
Mushibugyou just keeps getting better and better, mixing in ever-more plot with it’s already very pleasing mix of silliness and rollicking action. There’s plenty of fanservice too, and it’s very much of the old-school variety – bouncing oppai with eels between them, getting smushed against the MC’s head (with reaction shots), that sort of thing. The sequence where Oharu and Miyuki competitively (though accidentally in Oharu’s case) spilled water of themselves was almost genius.
Speaking of Oharu, she’s rather faded into the background since the premiere, but she was back in the spotlight this week. And it was a pleasant change, too, as she’s quite fun – every bit as innocent and dense as Jinbei (indeed, they seem ideally matched). The funny thing is that the somewhat inept ninja Miyuki saw Oharu as a foil, when in reality that never even occurred to Oharu.
We finally meet Miyuki’s boss this week, the head of the Insect Hunters (Konishi Katsuyuki). I’m wondering if I might have been interpreting their name incorrectly, as Miyuki’s ability to control them suggests that the moniker might actually come from “hunting with insects”. In any event they’re certainly at odds with the Insect Magistrate’s office, to the point where it’s their sworn goal to assassinate her. It’s also their logo on the strange map that Nagatomimaru found in the archives, which suggests that they might be engaged in a plot to take over Japan using the giant insects as an army.
All of that, of course, layers even more mystery into the fact that Mugai once ran with them – and why he still seems quite friendly with Miyuki. They’ve managed to track the Magistrate down to Hachijo Island, where she’s in “refuge” for the year, and it seems as if that’s where the first major arc in the series might just take place starting next week. Sadly, though, that probably means no Peach Girl…