Weekly Digest 5/12/14 – Tonari no Seki-kun, Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara

Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -16 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -17 Gawoware - 06 -8 Gawoware - 06 -18

Oh yeah, Yokoi is hopelessly ensnared now.

Tonari no Seki-kun – 19

Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -1 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -2 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -3
Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -4 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -5 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -6
Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -7 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -8 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -9
Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -10 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -11 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -12
Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -13 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -14 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -15
Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -18 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -19 Tonari no Seki-kun - 19 -20

The little show that could just keeps delivering.  This is very much the same sort of impact the manga has – it’s just these brilliant little observations one right after the other, wearing down your resistance until you’re just as wrapped up in it as Yokoi is.  Tonari no Seki-kun is genius in its own way – not in the flashy sense of a Hunter X Hunter or Shin Sekai Yori, but genius in its own right.

It’s not as though anyone should doubt at this point that what Seki-kun and Yokoi have is akin to a romantic relationship, but there are episodes that display that more openly than others – and this is one of the most open.  Yokoi’s intense interest in Seki-kun’s choice of glasses betrays much more than curiosity (and I don’t jut mean her taste in boys’ looks, though it does that as well).  There’s a real sense of investment here – pride of ownership, if you will.

Of course, it should be duly noted that once Seki became aware than Yokoi-chan had a strong preference (I’m not so sure I agree with it, but that’s neither here nor there) he acquiesced.  The fact that he then proceeded to torture Yokoi by never wearing the glasses again is admittedly relevant, but my suspicion is that the selection of glasses was, for the life-living Seki-kun, an activity to be pursued for its own sake.  He’d never chosen frames before, so he wanted to choose them.  In Seki’s world it makes perfect sense – and the scary thing is, I sort of get it myself…

Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara – 06

Gawoware - 06 -1 Gawoware - 06 -2 Gawoware - 06 -3
Gawoware - 06 -4 Gawoware - 06 -5 Gawoware - 06 -6
Gawoware - 06 -7 Gawoware - 06 -9 Gawoware - 06 -10
Gawoware - 06 -11 Gawoware - 06 -12 Gawoware - 06 -13
Gawoware - 06 -14 Gawoware - 06 -15 Gawoware - 06 -16
Gawoware - 06 -17 Gawoware - 06 -19 Gawoware - 06 -20

That episode was something of a tale of two halves for me. That dynamic certainly isn’t unusual given that Gawoware balances the serious and the silly far more overtly than most anime do, but that wasn’t so much the relevant point here as both halves of the episode contained both halves of the equation.  It was more a matter of simple execution.

Souta is certainly acquiring an impressively-sized harem, and two (possibly three) more were added to it this week.  This first is Daimyouzamurai Mei (Tange Sakura) who’s been sent from the other world (we get mention of the “Seven Virtues” and of “cancers on the skin of the world”) to spy on Souta, seemingly.  Though not covertly, as she seems to make no attempt to disguise the fact that she has the same ability that he does to see flags.  The serious scenes in this show have a curiously somber tone to them, and the ones at the start of the episode are no exception.

From there we get a textbook class trip half-episode, with half the class (including Souta) going to the beach, and the other to the mountains.  There’s some serious stuff here too (like Souta’s fear of the sea) but it’s also packed with the comedy this series is so adept at delivering.  Most of that comes from Megumu, who’s taking the trap thing to ridiculous extremes, and Baba-sama (who always delivers) who shoehorns her enormous cleavage into a tiny school swimsuit.  She’s completely absurd and I love every minute she’s on-screen.

The other new harem member is Daishikyougawa Kuromiko (Kuno Misaki).  She and her “story flag” are introduced in the first half but she emerges into prominence in the second.  She certainly is the classic loli-imouto cliche, though I have no problem with that here as everyone in the cast is an obvious spoof on a trope – that’s the whole point.  But Kuromiko is really the first case where it feels to me as if the writing in Gawoware loses its nerve a little, and her storyline is presented in such a fashion as to feel very conventional and safe as compared to everyone else’s.  It drags the second half of the episode solidly into mediocrity for me.  She’s going to be a regular, but the cast is large enough that I hope she’s not enough to do that very often for the rest of the way.

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