I’ll admit there were some nervous moments for me in the first half of this episode of Majimoji Rurumo. In Watanabe we trust, but there were certainly missteps in Yowamushi Pedal as good as the series has been on the whole. I’m a big advocate of not judging an anime by its cover, and specifically this series, which is a lot more than it looks in every way. Still – I was wavering there for a while. Turns out I should have done a better job taking my own advice.
This episode was all about the introduction of Harulily Waroula (Takamori Natsumi, who’s been in a lot but most stands out for me as Misaki Mei from Another), who enters the scene from above in a flash of lilac panties like a loli Mary Poppins. She’s from the magical underworld, like Rurumo, and she’s also accompanied by a cat familiar – except this one has freaky eyes and never says anything (a cat that doesn’t talk just isn’t natural). And she wastes no time in offering Kouta a contract for the use of special “premium” magic tickets (no death!). Kouta is smart enough to run like the wind at first, but he ends up taking her word for the last part a little too easily. His uses her offer of a special free sample ticket to make the most classically juvenile schoolboy wish imaginable – X-ray vision. Did he clip her out of the back of a comic book?
At this point everything about Harulily was setting off the alarm bells – the way she looked, the way she acted, and her apparent role in the story. It seemed we had a classic annoying loli character, probably a tsundere, and planning to steal Kouta out from under Rurumo. There have been shows – albeit ones I like less than this one – that have been wiped out and rendered permanently unwatchable for me by characters like this, who always seem to pop up right in the middle of the first cour. But I should have had a little more faith.
It’s not as though this ended up being one of the best eps of Majimoji Rurumo, but none of my fears were realized. Why? Mostly because it ended up following none of the cliche paths I feared, and everything about Haruliliys presence was handled with more dignity that one might have expected. There was some very good comedy – the montage of Rurumo leading Harulily around through a series of part-time jobs she proceeds to immediately get herself fired from (in a family restaurant using the keypad as a clipboard to write down orders via pencil for “soft dranks”) and then nobly decline to blame Harulily was especially winning – but more than that, the episode ended up shedding quite a bit of light on Rurumo’s character.
For Harulily’s part, she is a bit of a tsundere and may have a bit of a crush on Rurumo, but basically she’s just there because she’s worried about her friend. And you could see where Rurumo would be a very tough friend to have – she betrays little emotion, she forgets everything including her commitments, and she never asks for help even if she needs it (which she usually does). But Harulily adores Rurumo, who befriended her when she was a newbie witch apprentice, and she understands that Rurumo is quite hopeless at the practical side of life either in our world or her own, and needs all the help she can get whether she asks or not.
But it becomes clear to Harulily soon enough that Rurumo is completely dedicated to Kouta – she talks about him in (for her) positively glowing terms, and can’t stop mentioning his name and referring to the things he’s told her. And while Harulily initially rails at Rurumo being so dedicated to a human, and a boy at that, she soon accepts that this is what’s important to Rurumo now, and that in fact it makes her happy to be around Kouta – which she says in quite plain fashion. This all happens without a lot of fuss and bother once Harulily’s initial sniping dies down – it’s just Rurumo saying what she feels, and Harulily accepting it.
There’s an obvious problem with this idyllic scenario of course, and it’s that Rurumo doesn’t get to be a witch again – which she swears to Harulily she still wants to be – until Kouta is dead. Surely, simple as she is in many ways, Rurumo must know this – yet she acts for all the world as if she doesn’t. This understandably worries Harulily (“Why are you always wishing for things that are impossible to grant?”), and well it should – I think it worries Chiro too – and I’m honestly not sure if Rurumo is really that innocent or just very good at denial. Again, we see Majimoji Rurumo walking the tightrope between comedy and drama with great dexterity (far more than that poor girl in Kuroshitsuji, that’s for sure), and what appeared at first to be a trope-driven detour ends up being a simple story about friends wanting friends to be happy, and Rurumo’s heart. I shouldn’t have been as as surprised as I was.