Is it me, or does this series seem to air at a different time every damn week? It’s a guessing game trying to find it, but Saturday late-night is about the worst possible time for my schedule so I hope this is just a one-week aberration. Irrespective of that S x S continues to be a solidly entertaining and often hilarious show, though it has its obvious ups and down. It’s also managed to well and truly surprise me two straight weeks, and most series go through their entire run without managing to do that once.
It’s becoming clear to me that just as much as there’s a divide in my affection between the Touko and non-Touko moments, I like Servant X Service best when it focuses on Hasebe and Lucy. The ensemble stuff at the office is often very good, but the show just lights up when the spotlight is on those two – they’re great as individual characters and fascinating as a couple. This may be a test of the old “opposites attract” adage, as there’s no denying the two of them are very different people, but as is usually the case when that sort of pairing works out the so-called opposites have a lot in common when it comes to the really important things.
As to the cliffhanger, my guess about that woman was right – she is indeed Hasebe’s sister. An older sister in fact, Kaoru (Kobayashi Yuu). The twist is that the two ladies weren’t in a hotel bed, but in Kaoru’s apartment. As you’d expect the troll gene runs deep in the Hasebe family, and Kaoru immediately pulls one over on Lucy by pretending she’s really Yutaka, who’s really a woman. Lucy is nothing if not spectacularly gullible (letting Hasebe “save up points” for a favor is proof enough of that), but the return of the man himself quickly puts a stop to that jape. Kaoru is a live wire indeed – she reveals that the Hasebe have a big family, are all civil servants, and that Yutaka in the least genki of the bunch. This is a bit of a new role for Hasebe, being the put-upon one – but Kaoru doesn’t take things too obnoxiously far. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy her brother’s discomfort, though, and about the worst thing she does is bring Lucy over to his apartment unannounced. This has the fringe benefit of allowing us to see Yutaka in glasses and hair clips, which gives Lucy rather a start.
There’s nothing so surprising, really, in Hasebe or Lucy or in their interactions. It was already becoming clear that Hasebe was both a much more considerate person that he appeared and that his feelings for Lucy were quite genuine. Still, the two of them together are really charming to watch. In truth the way Hasebe handled Lucy’s condition could hardly have been more chivalrous – not only did he not take advantage in any way but he even brought her to his sister’s for the sake of propriety (even if Lucy was too innocent to understand why at first). In fact, I rather suspect Lucy’s image of him as a guy who spends most of his evenings on nampa outings with buddies is pretty far off, and that the reality is much closer to what we saw – staying up all night playing games by himself.
No, the real surprise – and it was a real surprise – came with Chihaya’s bombshell that she was Ichimiya’s girlfriend. I can honestly say that I in no way, shape or form saw that coming. Again we have a couple that could hardly seem more mismatched, and there’s the added fact that Touko’s reign of terror extends to her brother’s romantic life as well as his workplace. Because her birthday is Christmas Eve he ends up breaking up with every girlfriend when he chooses her over them, and he and Chihaya have to keep their relationship a secret from her. I detest these characters for whose convenience the world seems to be expected to change its orbit, especially the imouto ones – but the truth is, this is mostly Ichimiya’s own fault. He’s in real danger of becoming a pathetic character here – the scene where he practically begs Chihaya to break up with him was painful to watch, and not in a good way. Still, it does offer up a valid question – just what in the heck does Chihaya see in him, anyway?
This is an interesting turn, and I guess it casts Chihaya’s interest in Lucy in somewhat more innocent terms – seems she really was mainly after her as a cosplay victim. But it gives us kind of a dichotomy here, with two different orbits – one with characters I really like, and one with characters I don’t. For now that means I’m going to enjoy Servant X Service a lot more when the camera is on Hasebe and Lucy than when it’s on Ichimiya, Chihaya and Touko. But given the number of times it’s surprised me already, it’s certainly possible that it will make me rethink my views of them (well, of Ichimiya and Chihaya anyway). I suspect there must be more surprised to come in that relationship, because it sure doesn’t make sense now.