I don’t think too many viewers will be surprised that this episode of Majimoji Rurumo was a vastly different experience than last week’s emotional haymaker. That was certainly the outlier, at least so far – but maybe not quite so much as it seems. There always seems to be just a bit more going on with this series that it appears at first – be careful where you walk, because the water is deeper than it looks. That’s definitely one of the things I like best about the show.
It seems quite natural for Majimoji Rurumo to do a beach episode, and it starts off rather traditionally. It doesn’t spare the fanservice either, but as usual there’s an old-fashioned and unpretentious quality to it that for me at least keeps it from being over the top. The guys in the cast are genuinely funny when they go into ecchi mode – just horny teenage dudes who go a bit crazy when the stimulation cranks up (I especially love the concept of the “internal recording system“, which will surely get a lot of use later on). Kouta of course is the poster boy for this – he turns into an outright tornado of hormones and pursues his interests shamelessly. If a show can be shameless in a good way, this one really pulls it off – it sees no reason to make a big deal about a little fanservice, and why should it? It’s just a bit of good fun is all, the kind anime used to deliver all the time.
The purpose, nominally, of this beach trip is that Sempai is looking for the mythical “legendary swimsuit” that will cause the wearer’s personality to do a 180 degree turn. Except that Kouta has ditched him and apart from Sempai himself no one seems to know that. Iida-san (Sakurai Harumi) – the cop who gave Rurumo directions in Episode 5 (still my favorite) – has tagged along, and given that Kouta is a shameless practitioner of motorboating, she makes the phrase “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” really come to life.
The only one not joining in the fun is Rurumo, who has a high embarrassment factor and is too shy to wear a swimsuit (indeed, it seems she was even too shy to buy one). Not shy at all is Chiro, who can’t wait to transform and try on swimwear, and that’s evidenced by her choice of the other legendary swimsuit (the seashell, clearly the stuff of dreams) – which promptly sends the boys into fits of adolescent longing which quickly evolve into a “Benny Hill” chase scene. As for Rurumo, what finally pushes her over the brink is when Kouta says “I’d like to see you in a swimsuit” – which is that much more proof of the strength of her feelings for Kouta.
Kouta gives Chiro refuge from the chasing hordes, and asks her to give Rurumo her swimsuit, but Chrio (quite rightly, I think) says that it would be way too racy for Rurumo. Instead, she goes off to hunt for a suitable one – and finds it in an “old house” (guess they don’t have Shinto shrines in the magic world), which is actually the Jinja in which Sempai’s legendary suit was supposed to be hidden. It looks quite sensible and demure – like a school swimsuit, in fact – and it “suits” Ruruomo’s pixieish form perfectly. But as soon as Kouta runs into her, it’s clear something is very wrong. Depending on your perspective, of course…
It’s a broken record by now, but Kouta really shows his true colors when the chips are down. This Rurumo wants to kiss him – quite desperately in fact – and naturally, he’s only too keen on the prospect. But because he knows it would be wrong to have his first kiss with Rurumo (and his literal first, and probably hers too) while she’s “under the influence”, he flees at the last instant. And not only that, after she pins him under a block of concrete (yeah, let’s not get into the physics too deeply) he burns one of his precious tickets to keep the kiss from happening. Kouta is a stand-up guy to an incredible degree – anyone would have forgiven him a moment of weakness here. It’s not as if the suit changed Ruruomo’s desires – only her willingness to pursue them. She wanted to kiss him all along, and he her, but Kouta wouldn’t cheat.
Majimoji Rurumo has really struck gold with this pairing, and it can keep going back to the well and never come up dry. Kouta and Rurumo are great together, and Chiro is one of the best third wheels around. You expect the comedic gold Fukuen Masato is delivering in Osaka-ben, but the stellar work from Mimori Suzuko and newcomer Takahashi Makoto is a real pleasant surprise. And of course it all leads back to Watanabe Wataru’s writing, which seems to hit the right notes of sincerity and silliness even more consistently here (at least in the last few episodes) than it did in Yowamushi Pedal (which has had 38 episodes over which is had to maintain its standard, it must be said). If this series hasn’t quite reached the point of staking a claim as the best of the season, it and Kuroshitsuji are certainly leading the field for most consistent.