It’s not surprising at all that Majimoji Rurumo had this sort of episode in it, really, or that it would choose to pursue it. Good anime comedies more often than not are a blend of laughter and feels, and this one definitely pays due attention to both sides of the ledger. But it’s still gratifying that the series was able to pull it off so splendidly – even otherwise strong comedies sometimes can’t do likewise – and it’s a reminder of just how filled with heart Watanabe Wataru’s writing really is.
In what was a pretty self-explanatory episode, a few things stand out for me. First off, the sort of thing we saw depicted here – kittens abandoned in a box (with a note, as if somehow that makes it less despicable) – is sadly no less common in Japan than it is in America (which is surprising in a sense, given how generally crazy the country is for cats and how Buddhism strongly accents kindness towards all creatures). I don’t want to go off on a rant, but it disgusts me every time I see it, and I really think simple anti-cruelty laws should exist that make such a thing an arrestable offense. Sadly very few places have such laws, and scumbags can engage in this (or worse) sort of activity with impunity. If we allow the mistreatment of animals, aren’t we diminishing ourselves as a species?
I also see a lot of irony in Kouta’s discovery of the kittens. It’s funny that it should take something like being seen rescuing abandoned cats to make the girls see him as something other than a despicable person, because of course the truth is that – as we well know – Kouta is anything but a despicable person. Perception is reality, I suppose, and virtue its own reward – but I was pleased to see that the social rehabilitation Kouta received (even if it should never have been necessary) for his kindness was allowed to stand unchallenged. And he seemed to forget all about those “Gravure for Adults” mags once he took a good look at the kittens, didn’t he?
I also loved (as usual) Chiro’s role in the episode. The kitten incident was the prompt to give us a little peek at her backstory – a scruffy cat without a good pedigree plucked from a life selling used wands on the street by a kind-hearted Rurumo. And it provided some of the best comedy and warmth of the episode, often at the same time (“Don’t suck on me! I’m not your mom – I’m still a virgin!”). Like everyone else in the cast, Chiro is simply too big-hearted not to care, and ends up providing her own sort of wisdom and comfort to the kittens. They, by the way, take the names “Mur”, “Dur”, and “Incident” – given to the them by Rurumo, from the title of a murder mystery she’s just read.
Incident is the weakest of the three, clumsy and small – Kouta says she reminds him of Rurumo – and it’s clear pretty early on that things are going to take a sad turn with her. And when they do, Majimoji Rurumo goes to a pretty dark place – it’s not a sugar-coated treatment, but quite unapologetically sad. Again, I would say that not every comedy can pull this sort of thing off, but this one is so unpretentious and it trades in emotional honesty pretty much all the time, so in the end it feels very natural.
This series is undeniably a sleeper, but it’s the real deal – both very funny and completely genuine. There’s probably no room at the table for Majimoji Rurumo when it comes to disc sales, which means there’s no chance of a second season – it simply lacks appeal to the same audience that’s turned Yowamushi Pedal into a major hit, and doesn’t press enough of the right buttons to connect with the other possible target audience. But I’m certainly glad to have it around for a season at least, as it’s steadily climbing in my esteem and is now one of my favorites of the Summer.