That was definitely my favorite episode of Gaworare for a good while. I like the weirdness and darkness this series brings to the table, but I think it’s at its most charming when it indulges the sillier side. As is often the case, the show that parodies the tropes has more charming examples of them than the shows that try to portray them “seriously”. And I like pretty much everyone in this cast (though Kuromiko gets old very, very quickly).
It’s no coincidence then that this ep wasn’t nearly as plot-heavy as the last few have been. It’s a pretty straightforward setup – it’s break time, everyone but Souta and Ookiku has left Quest Dormitory to visit home (and she’s stayed behind to spoil him rotten). The episode gets off to a great start when Rin-kun walks in on them and finds Souta languidly enjoying being pampered and asks “Good grief – what happened to your angsty aloofness??” That’s the sort of really smart, cutting humor this series gets just right a lot of the time.
The first twist comes when Ruri shows up and kidnaps Souta, Akane having mentioned that she wished she could see him. Soon enough, naturally, everyone ends up at Akane’s mansion – though not before he issues what sounds very much like a confession. Everyone, that is, except for Nanami, who’s the odd tsun out once again. There’s a far funnier than average take on the “mens/women’s bath” mixup at Akane’s rotemburo, a fairly hilarious scene at the dinner table where everyone copies Akane’s table manners right down to dropping her knife and ordering extra roast beef for Souta (yeah, it’s an old gag but I’ve never seen it in an anime) and finally a video call from a lonely Nanami who’s back home in Bladefield.
Clearly distressed at missing out on a pillow fight (with a Souta dakimakura) Nanami invites the gang to Bladefield, where more hijinks ensue. There’s a meeting with Nanami’s sister Hakua “Berserker” (I could never make these names up) Bladefield (Kakuma Ai) – yet another kawaii girl with a bizarre speech pattern – on the train back to the capital, and an appearance by Mini-Ruri (who appears from Akane’s bag with Akane’s “massive” bra on her head). This is where the episode starts to get serious, as another Ruri appears – this one optimized to assassinate and clearly intending to take out one or both royal princesses – but it never takes on the grim, unsettling quality of the last few eps. In the end Souta pulls off the classic escape flag, fleeing to the last car with the sisters and decoupling from the rest of the train.
I suppose one could make the argument that Gaworare is cheating a bit, because it manages to exploit every cliche in the LN playbook in the name of satire (Outbreak Company is in the same boat). But I’d be the first to criticize if these tropes weren’t brought off in entertaining fashion, and the fact is that they are here. This is a weird show in almost every way, but I like it best in the mode we saw this week – full of manic energy and over-the-top comedy, not pulling any punches as it shamelessly panders using the same material it’s subjecting to parody.