Shogi makes a return this week on Tonari no Seki-kun, with the focus this time shifting to family drama. Not surprisingly a story of forbidden love is even more irresistible to Yokoi than Seki-kun’s usual antics – she hardly has to supply any imagination herself, in fact. But if you were hoping for some real-life romantic drama based off the way Episode 7 ended, you’ll be disappointed – for now, at least, it’s as if it never happened (though I expect that to change).
It’s sort of interesting to speculate on just how much Seki is putting on these performances for Yokoi’s benefit. Maybe he wasn’t in the beginning, but he obviously knows he has an audience now – and there are times (like this week) when it almost seems as if he’s tailoring his antics to what he knows will hopelessly ensnare Yokoi. It seems as if their sensibilities are well-matched to begin with (though she’d never admit it), so perhaps there’s hope for these two crazy kids yet.
What’s indisputable is that Seki-kun is really going all out, here. False surfaces on top of shogi pieces, hiding their real identities below? The kid really is a master craftsman, channeling his massive talents towards the noblest of all teenage goals – alleviating boredom. The fact that’s picked up a groupie along the way is just a bonus.
Witch Craft Works – 08
Well, no one has been pushing harder than me for Witch Craft Works to accent the all-out wackiness which is its strongest suit, so I feel as if I should have been happier with this episode than I was. It was certainly one of the most bizarre of the series so far and Mizushima-sensei had plenty of opportunities to show of his comedic chops, but somehow I didn’t find it as funny as I would have liked. Maybe you really can only go so far with a show where you don’t much care about the characters or plot.
That said, there were some moments that worked in this episode, which started out with an unannounced (and unexplained, until after the fact) flashback to Kagari’s middle-school days. That turned out to have been a dream by Honoka, but I’m assuming he was seeing events that really happened to Kagari (what that says about him and their relationship is a valid question). There was some funny stuff here (like Kagari scoring ∞ on her exams) but I’m not quite sure why this was necessary, and it really didn’t add much of anything to either the atmosphere of the episode or the series canon as far as I can tell. The whole sequence was tonally out-of-synch, too.
The meat of the episode is taken up with the rebellion against Honoka as Student Council president (and he is pretty revolting). This stems basically from Touko making up a bunch of lies about him and using them to enlist banchou Otometachibana Rinon (Shitaya Noriko) to publicly humiliate him the way Touko says he did her. Rinon is quite the live wire. She’s called “Bear Killer” because she subdued an escaped tiger – who was named “Bare Eyes” (that’s vintage WCW right there). She throws down a challenge to Honoka to meet her in the gym after school, and even though he asks to be allowed to handle it by himself, you just know Kagari can’t possibly let the incident end any other way than by handling the ass-kicking herself (with a little “help” from Team Rocket).
Just because, the episode ends with Touko and Hoodzuki swapping stories about the fun they had with Kagari’s underwear. We also got a scene of Tanpopo eating cat food for lunch straight from the can – she continues to get a lot of the funniest material. On the whole, though, the appeal might just be starting to wear thin for me. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a miraculous turnaround from Honoka to save the day, but I would like to see something from him – a hint of personality of self-awareness. The issue isn’t that he’s a damsel-in-distress – yeah, we all get the joke by now – the issue is that he’s a screaming bore, and once you get past Kagari’s deadpan delivery she’s not the most dynamic main character anime’s ever seen either.