I’ve been trying to remember the last comedy for which I took as many screencaps as I do for Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!. Obviously you expect that for a show like Mob Psycho 100 with all its action, Bones, Tachikawa-fueled visual splendor. But Konobi is a comedy from a studio outside the top tier, so pulling 100-plus caps (pre-editing) from pretty much every episode is surprising – and obviously a testament to what a great-looking show this really is. Production values can only carry a series so far, but they certainly don’t hurt.
I’d be hard-pressed to think of anything I’m not liking about Kono Bijutsubu right now, to be honest. Even when you get into tropey territory like Usami turning violent on Uchimaki – which actually doesn’t happen very often at all – we get the refreshing (and nearly unheard of) spectacle of Uchimaki-kun giving as good as he gets. This kind of thing is the key to Konobi’s success, I think – not so much reinvention as simply doing the familiar better and more interestingly than we usually see it done.
We get another ingredient stirred into the pot this week, and that’s Imari Maria (Touyama Nao). And Imari-san continues the perfect track record of every character (so far) in Konobi being likeable. She’s the new transfer student in Class 2-4 (Uchimaki’s class), and she represents a kind of perfect storm of threat for Usami – she’s cute, outgoing and a chuunibyou to boot. As such Imari seems like the perfect candidate to test Uchimaki’s “I have no interest in 3-D girls” resolve – and of course, in the process send Usami off on a bender of self-doubt and paranoia.
It would be easy to set Imari up as a calculating boys-stealer or a general buffoon, but that’s not the sort of series Kono Bijutsubu is. Imari is a perfectly nice person who just happens to take her fantasy life a little (a lot) more seriously than is probably healthy. She introduces herself to Uchimaki-kun (she recognizes him as a kindred spirit through his hoodie) with an Arslan Senki reference (a nice kernel of wit given the resume of Kobayashi Yuusuke), and things just take off from there.
It’s kind of hard to tell yet whether Imari is genuinely interested in Uchimaki or not – she does allude to it, but the overall vibe between them does indeed seem, as Usami notes, more like friends than “boy and girl”. I suspect that her “joke” about going out with Subaru probably had more than a grain of truth in it, but I wouldn’t expect it to move Uchimaki off his chaste devotion to 2-D girls just yet. You know, one reason a boy his age might express that 2-D philosophy is that he’s simply not ready to date real girls yet – that can be a pretty scary prospect for a 14 year-old. Uchimaki and Imari have a lot in common, no doubt, but it’s a pretty big leap from there to saying they would work as a couple.
While there’s certainly less screwball comedy here than in the first five eps, there are plenty of funny moments. I especially loved the frozen smile on the face of the bookstore clerk, who the entire time was thinking “Please just go home already!” Also Mizuki’s “Am I too heavy?” fantasy, and her reaction to Subaru’s answer when she finally relents and sits on his shoulder to try and rescue the balloon. It’s going to be interesting to see her try and cope with Imari’s presence, especially if – as I expect – Imari does turn out to be both a genuinely nice girl and someone who has interest in Uchimaki-kun.