I don’t tend to think much of the episodes where Haiyore! Nyaruko-san tries to get serious, but this is one of the better examples so far. It certainly isn’t thanks to the plot device of Kuuko’s sister, who’s one of the more annoying characters of the season – I’d be quite happy if Nyaruko really did lock her in that room for a few millenia. And I’m not all that sympathetic to Nyaruko’s sob story, either.
The odd thing is, I think I like Mahiro and Kuuko as a couple better than Mahiro and Nyaruko (or Nyaruko and Kuuko, for that matter). There was a charm and romantic spark to their supposedly fake romantic moments (which Kuuko admitted weren’t entirely fake) that I’ve frankly never seen between he and Nyaruko. And Kuuko actually thinks about the reasons she’s attracted to him, and they’re good ones. All Nyaruko ever does, really, is fall back on the “I’m the main character so it has to be me!” gag – the irony being, of course, that she’s almost surely right. Even when she manages to break down his walls a little, she has to blow it by stuff like coming to the breakfast table with lies about all the things they did together the night before. I think Nyaruko could take a few lessons from Kuuko on how to win a guy over – which is also some pretty good irony.
Comedy-wise, there wasn’t really all that much happening this week, which is not a good thing where this series is concerned – usually, though in this case the plot worked well enough to carry the episode modestly well. We had a very funny bit with Kuuko trying to think up baby names combing her name with Mahiro’s (my favorite was Kuroko – “If it’s a boy he’ll play basketball, and if it’s a girl we’ll send her to Academy City”) and another solid gag with Yoriko spinning tales of her courtship (why don’t we ever see Mahiro’s Dad, anyway?) to Shanta-kun. Sadly Hastur remains mostly irrelevant, which is an ongoing problem for this series. For all its edginess it doesn’t really have the guts to treat Hastur as a serious romantic option for Mahiro, which relegates him either to being the punch-line, the peacemaker or irrelevant altogether apart from the occasional episode that focuses on him as a stand-alone.
Mushibugyou – 06
The plot thickens, as they say – and given the news that Mushibugyou is going to be a two-cour series (at least) that’s good news, as there should be time to sort it out.
The big addition to the cast is Nagatomimaru, the gent in the Noh mask we saw at the end of the last episode. He’s an odd sod to say the least – an insect otaku and hikimomori (although the latter turns out to be not really true given the reveal at the end of the episode), he’s broken into the Insect Magistrate in an attempt to get a look at their secret library, desperate to learn why giant insects suddenly appeared 100 years earlier. I’d kind of like to know myself. He’s played by Fukuyama Jun in what for him amounts to a somewhat understated performance, yet another big name in a cast full of them.
As if last week’s introduction of a giant flea wasn’t disturbing enough, this time it’s a giant mosquito – another bug I especially dislike even in its normal size. Nagatomimaru ends up being the latest member of Jinbei’s harem, swept along by his honesty and martial spirit, and while his attempted break-in to the library proves disastrous he does prove useful in helping Jinbei defeat the aforementioned O-Ka. But not before convincing himself it was all a dream even as the bug sucked the blood out of a bystander with grotesque sound effects.
As it turns out Nagatomimari is none other than Tokugawa Ieshige, the heir to the Shogunate. Mushibugyou has taken some major liberties with history – the real Ieshige was facially deformed and had a speech impediment, this one is a bishounen voiced by Jun – but it’s true he was an odd man thought unsuited for the succession by most of his father’s retainers. His connection to the Insect Magistrate should prove an interesting complication – he agrees to Kotori’s deal that he keep secret what he eventually sees in the archives in return for having his identity protected, but only if he can come and play with Jinbei every day. And what he was saw a map with a strange crest on it, showing a giant “X” through the South of Japan, leading to the inescapable conclusion that there are major conspiracies at work here.