I must confess this week’s episode of S x S fell a bit flat for me. I didn’t hate it or anything, but it just didn’t have the comedic firepower of the series’ better episodes. It seems as if there are two basic orbits in this series – the one that features Lucy x Hasebe, and the one featuring the trio of Chihaya and the Ichimiya siblings – with Miyoshi acting as a sort of bridge/accessory storyline. And how much I enjoy the episodes is depending at least in part on which orbit the episode travels in that week.
In a sense this shouldn’t be too surprising, because it’s not entirely dissimilar to Working!. There were definitely some major gaps in my affection for the characters that had an impact on how much a specific ep appealed to me, but it seemed as if the various threads were somewhat more integrated than they are with S x S. I think this show is at its best in two modes – the first when it focuses on Hasebe and Lucy, and the second when the dynamic features all the main cast members interacting with each other. Step outside that, and the quality drops considerably.
I’ll say this much, Touko hasn’t been nearly as annoying the last couple of appearances as she was in her first (as if that would be possible anyway). The problem is, now she’s just kind of boring. And my dominant thought with Ichimiya and Chihaya is that I can’t understand what either of them sees in the other – which is a pretty bad basis on which to build buy-in to a fictional relationship. Ichimiya is a nice guy but such a complete spineless loser that it’s hard to understand why Chihaya would put up with his nonsense at all, unless it’s for straight-up “S” gratification. And Chihaya isn’t all that nice a person, and doesn’t treat Ichimiya especially kindly – so the only reason for his attraction which makes sense is that she’s the only girl who’d have him. Any way you slice it, watching the three of them can be a bit of a chore.
The Saya storyline and the other pair was better, but hardly top-shelf S x S comic material. The introduction of the Tanaka grandson, Jouji (the unmistakable Kakihara Tetsuya) does add an interesting wrinkle, and seems to tie Saya into the main couple’s plot. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as the BL explanation Chihaya offers, but there can be no question the junior Tanaka is obsessed with Hasebe. We know there the rival/hates-to-lose element which Hasebe admits to, but there’s another angle which he won’t admit to Lucy. For now it seems as if it’s a bit of a bromance – Tanaka a bit awkward and ordinary, and both envious and enamoured of the easy dexterity with which Hasebe lives his life. I like seeing Hasebe with Lucy because his attraction to her is an element he can’t easily control, and he’s a guy that loves control – their chemistry is definitely the best part of the show so far. As to what happens with Tanaka, whatever the mystery angle is I doubt he’s seriously in love with Hasebe or anything – and I can’t help but wonder if in spite of the odds, something might just ironically brew between he and Saya.