I have but one negative thing to say about this episode of Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! – it takes us one step closer to the end.
Sadly, things are feeling very familiar with Kono Bijutsubu at this point. There’s a routine with shows like this one (I’ve talked a few times about what those shows are) – we get one cour, we fall in love with the cast and setting, and the series ends. This sort of lovely, sweet and cheeky comedy almost never proves a hit (Minami-ke being a rare exception), and since the main purpose of these anime seems to be to drum up interest the manga, those manga are almost always ongoing. Almost as soon as we bond with the show, it ends. That’s life as an anime fan if your bag isn’t idol shows and Nisio Isin I guess.
Yeah, in case you didn’t take the hint, I’m a pretty big fan of this series. It can do so many things well and there isn’t a single person in the cast I don’t like a lot, even ones who are representatives of seemingly pretty familiar archetypes. Good middle school shows are so few and far-between, and Kono Bijutsubu is a terrific school life series. It manages to capture the somewhat skewed and often random nature of middle school beautifully, and the characters still very much with one foot on either side of the divide between children and teenagers affectionately and accurately. Middle schoolers aren’t simply miniature high schoolers – they’re quite different, and it’s nice to see a series that gets that.
This week’s episode is very much in the school life vein, and it’s a full-length chapter from Volume 5 of the manga. The time for the culture festival has come around, and while Koyama-sensei notes that the Bijutsubu tends to focus on art competition rather than such things, Tachibana-sensei won’t rest at the notion of her precious students missing out on such a precious adolescent ritual. So she comes up with an idea, but it’s not as harebrained as her usual standard – she decides the kids will make some pop art (literally) out of aluminum cans. And the theme will surround all of them being collected from the school grounds.
Well, okay – not a bad notion I guess for an art club, and even Uchimaki-kun isn’t totally down on the idea (though he does initially try to beg off to draw waifus). The main function, though, is that it’s a premise to let us watch the kids goof around and stumble their way around actually trying to make the project happen. There’s some great stuff here, like the “gattai” sequence (Cole-chan really is doing her best for Sempai) and the Kaichou’s reaction to Usami’s attempts to wade through three prepping 300 cans for construction through repetition and elbow grease.
It all starts to go wrong, of course – first Colette dents a bunch of cans in a cosplay (“Recycle Man”) mishap. But the real problem comes when one of the teachers takes Imari’s chuuni rantings too literally and mistakenly throws out 200 of the club’s stock. Happily though that sets off another great Kono Bijutsubu insert song montage (“Kokoro Palette” – interestingly, used in a collaboration with the manga from a couple of years ago) as the Kaichou (who’s way smarter than he acts) comes up with a scheme to replenish the supply by staging an impromptu drinks stand on campus.
Lots of interesting stuff happens here if you pay attention, including some hinting at romantic entanglements in unexpected places. In the end though, this art club has a problem – how does one get a gigantic pop can statue out of a classroom with Japanese-sized doorways? It’s sort of reminiscent of the end of the swimming pool mural chapter, and somehow feels very authentic to the Kono Bijutsubu (and middle school) experience. That authenticity is a hallmark of this series, and one of many reasons why I’m going to miss it so much when it ends. But then, I’m used to it…