In case you can’t tell, I’m quite taken with Majimoji Rurumo. It’s hard to imagine two series more different than this and Yowamushi Pedal that are more unmistakably alike, the product of the same mind. I’m glad one of them at least (it’s not this one) has taken off, so that Watanabe Wataru gets the exposure a mangaka of his wit and talent deserves. Majimoji Rurumo certainly won’t get a second season, but it’s a happy by-product of Yowapeda’s success (which is all good, generally) that it got an adaptation at all.
It’s a two mini-episode format here, the first featuring the secret otaku Masako. If Onoda is an author-insert character in Yowapeda (and if you’ve ever seen Watanabe-sensei’s picture or read his omakes, there can be not a fraction of a doubt) it seems very likely that Masako is the author’s proxy here. A glasses-wearing, shy girl with a secret otaku passion, here expressed through cosplay – lonely, with no one to share her interests with. Yup, sounds familiar – though of course unlike Onoda the life Masako leads is hypocritical as well as lonely, because she acts as an agent of the thought police suppressing individuality (perhaps as a kind of payback against the world for repressing hers).
The funny thing is that when Rurumo spills Masako’s secret (and she had no reason to suspect she was supposed to keep it), there’s no shame and no degradation – everyone thinks it’s kind of cool, actually, which makes Masako’s self-imposed cultural exile even sadder. I’m sure it isn’t usually that easy for high-school otaku in Japan – especially girls – but it’s nice that Masako’s outreach to Rurumo ended up having a positive impact. It was also fun to see Rurumo getting into the swing of the thing, though it was likely more the notion of having a same-sex friend who was an expert at something that fascinated her. Masako turns Rurumo on to
Love Hime “Sone Miko“, her favorite anime, and she knows they’re true soul-mates when Rurumo tells her they have the same favorite episode (that is a special moment when it happens). My favorite moment of this chapter, though, was Fukuen Misato’s hilarious deadpan of Chiro’s sarcastic “I was so worried!” when Rurumo came home late. The largely no-name cast is doing a terrific job here, but Fukuen-san is one of the best comics in the business.
The next segment allows Majimoji Rurumo to show off one of its most remarkable abilities, which is to take what we’ve come by hard experience to wearily view as cliche and banal and make it seem fresh and heartfelt (and next week should prove a rare opportunity as well – maybe the biggest challenge yet). We saw it with the lolimouto, we saw it with the beach episode, and here we see it with what’s superficially a fanservice episode centered on the old “breast size obsession” gag. Though I didn’t fully realize it at the time, this is what I was getting at when I wrote after the second episode that what initially appeared to be weaknesses in this series were revealing themselves as strengths.
The chain of events here is set off when the strap on Rurumo’s bra (she refers to it as a “chestpiece”) snaps. Considering she’s been wearing it for 170 years that’s not entirely a surprise, but with replacements from the Underworld being slow to arrive it does leave Rurumo rather in a quandary (not that you can really tell a difference, in truth), as merely being close to Kouta without that extra layer of separation makes her embarrassed to the point of faintness. This leads to a request of Masako to make her a replacement, which leads to Masako looping in every other girl in class, much to Rurumo’s dismay.
I guess I wouldn’t blame anyone for finding the gags that follow to be lowbrow, but I thought they were really funny and quite innocently sweet – much the way the fanservice in this show tends to be. That bit with the “test to determine if you have huge boobs“, Officer Iida’s wry comment about her “big guns“, Rurumo imaging a thought bubble of what her chestpiece looks like and everyone seeing it, the Pettanko trio trying to rest theirs on a table (I apologize, but that just had me on the floor) – it was all hilarious. And I loved the resolution, which was Kouta’s heartfelt declaration that he worships all boobs, big or small – “what matters is that they’re treasured.” And finally, Rurumo’s disappointment when Kouta fails to notice that she’s wearing her newly-bought chestpiece – followed by Chiro’s “He’s not going to notice when you’re wearing clothes over it.”
By the way, it should be pointed out that the heroine of “Love Hime” is named Princess Pettanko – so it may be time to acknowledge that Watanabe-sensei has a flat fetish.