This was one of the real “wow” episodes of the season for me, and there haven’t been many of them. It’s not that I necessarily liked it better than all the others, or that I didn’t already like Majimoji Rurumo a lot, but this took it to a whole new level of enjoyment for me. I loved every second of that ep, from the first to the last – it was charming, hilarious and sweet from start to finish. That’ll teach me not to underestimate Watanabe Wataru again – he has the Midas touch when it comes to the charm factor.
It would be hard to list all the things this episode did right, but not as hard as trying to find anything it did wrong. In the first place, this is how you do cute – directors, manga and (God help us) light-novelists, please take note. Rurumo sells her helplessness beautifully here because she’s so matter-of-fact about it. There’s no vamping, no “Geh-heh!” with a knock to the forehead, no self-aware put-on consternation – she’s just clumsy, clueless and determined. Seriously, this is a girl that would get lost in a phone booth and forget her head if it wasn’t attached, but it’s just who she is.
The flip-side of course is that while Rurumo tries awfully hard to make things right, she doesn’t make a big deal about that either – she just does it. The task this time is to deliver a package to Kouta, who’s helping out at his grandma’s farm. Happy to get Rurumo out of the house before she further trashes it by trying to clean, yandere-Mama-san sends Rurumo to deliver it – with very specific instructions, and a hand-drawn map. Ruruomo calls Mama a worrywart, but seriously – the girl thinks she needs postage stamps (kitte) to board a train! I’d be worried, too.
Satchel over her shoulder and Chiro (whose sardonic asides make a perfect counterpoint to Rurumo) along to try and avoid disaster, Rurumo leaves the house muttering her “Kippu” (train ticket) mantra to herself. It’s all great stuff – the attempts to cross the street (muttering “Kippu” in time to them), the chance meeting with Kouta’s bishounen friend, the cop – oh my, the cop. She’s none too pleased when she responds to a call about a strange person in the neighborhood (Rurumo has been circling the same house for ages) and the girl in the witch’s gear says she’s 315 years old. But then Rurumo remembers the magic word Kouta (showing some real foresight) taught her to use if she ever found herself in such a predicament – “cosplay”. Talk about a get out of jail free card…
The fun is just getting started. While searching for the post office (rushing across the street has made her forget her mantra) Rurumo runs into one of the girls from the morals committee buying a truckload of cosplay gear herself. She panics at the notion of her secret getting out, but Rurumo isn’t remotely interested. She dutifully buys her stamps and tries to board the train with them, and that doesn’t go well at all. Fortunately she runs into Kouta’s friend Sugawara (Ishiya Haruki) and he pays for her ticket, happy to be seen as her “date” but dismayed that she has no idea who he is. Her reaction when he asks if he can tell her about something that happened at his club is priceless – first outright rejection, then upon seeing his utter devastation, “A little”. She still manages to disembark before he can get to the punch line, though.
The coup de grace comes when Rurumo and Chiro arrive in the village of Kuwayama (Mulberry Mountain) and Rurumo promptly gets hopeless lost. The satchel gets stuck in a tree (“An obvious spot!” Chiro helpfully offers) and Rurumo (with hilarious grunts) falls down a hill into a field of giant sunflowers chasing it. While Chiro (seriously, why didn’t she just read the damn map as soon as they got off the train?) runs to Grandma’s house for help, a leaf adheres to Rurumo’s cloak and under the influence of its restoration spell, begins to grow. And grow. “This could be a problem.” Rurumo finally admits, after the foliage has grown into a witch’s hat-shaped mountain of green, complete with insects and birds. And it turns out that all along the errand was to deliver hilariously uncool cell-phone cases (wood? silicone boobs?) that Kouta was hoping would score him status points with his cousin’s cute friend, who’s still in middle school. They don’t (Kouta ends up being trumped by a steamed bun).
It’s all just so delightfully silly in a blissfully unpretentious way. And as usual, once Kouta and Rurumo get together things are genuinely sweet – their chemistry is off the charts, which even Chiro must acknowledge when Rurumo has a striking reaction to touching Kouta’s hand after having none when his friends grabbed her hands in theirs. Kouta’s rescue mission ends up being unnecessary in the sense that Rurumo manages to slip out of her cloak and free herself (though I don’t see her ever having found Grandma’s house unaided) but she does complete the job that was “bigger than my life”. It’s hard to imagine more simple, straightforward fun being packed into an anime episode than that one, and it ends on a perfect note. Majimoji Rurumo is definitely one of the keepers of the season as of now.