This week is a dream I still haven’t woken up from. Let’s hope next week isn’t a living nightmare.
I guess after 108 years of waiting, Cub fans can be forgiven for being a little slow in letting go of the absurd fantasy life has become and embracing reality again. In its way I think today was actually the day I most acutely felt the pain of not being in Chicago for all this. For all the times (thousands, to be sure) I fantasized since childhood about how that final inning would go, I probably fantasized every bit as much about how the celebration would go. About the parade, and the crowds, and Grant Park, and the music and the tears. Unless you were in Chicago employers weren’t going to be keen on skipping out on work (with five million in attendance, I can’t think many offices were staffed apart from on the South Side), so I had to content myself with catching it all on WGN via DVR. And even that left me an emotional wreck.
There’s been precious little room in my consciousness for anime, then – and next week is going to prove equally challenging for altogether less pleasant reasons (and it’s a travel week to boot). I’ll catch up eventually but it may take a while, so it’s probably better to prioritize the shows that are truly important this season – and Fune wo Amu is certainly one of those.
I may have been a bit distracted, true, but my feeling in watching this episode is that it was the most conventional episode of The Great Passage so far. We essentially got a crisis-reaction storyline in the A-part, followed by a romance subplot in the B-part. Heck, we even got an insert song montage – using the OP, which in truth has never struck me as being especially well-fitted to the overall tone of the series. The upside was that we finally got to see Nishioka step up into a prominent role as something more than comic relief. Given that he was the one who reported the news that the publisher was considering canceling the Great Passage project, he takes it upon himself to figure out a way to save the day.
His solution? Establish a bunch of writing contracts with SMEs throughout the publishing world – thus creating a buzz around the Great Passage and making its cancellation potentially embarrassing for the company. It’s a rather clever notion, and it really shows off the niche Nishioka fills in this group and this story. Each of the others is a bit of an obsessive dictionary otaku, but Nishioka is the much more practical man. He’s good at stuff the others wouldn’t consider important enough to try and be good at (or in the case of Majime and women, lack the nerve to try). That makes him important, but it also makes him acutely aware of his own shortfalls compared to the others. Finally he’s found something only he can do, and he likes it – in no small part because Nishioka is rather transparently in awe of Matsumoto-san and longs to prove his worth to the old man.
Part of Nishioka’s role, of course, is to push Majime into getting together with Kaguya. Her grandma is trying awfully hard at this too, and when Nishioka forces Majime to take a weekend off, the old Ooya-san pounces like a house cat on a paper bag and practically bundles the two of them off on a “date” together. Romantically it’s rather a fizzle, but there is a connection when Majime realizes that Kaguya’s feelings about being a chef mirror his own about compiling dictionaries – the draw is that perfection can never, ever be obtained. There’s always work to be done, adaptations to embrace – every day in the pursuit is an undiscovered country. Majime is still pretty much a social wreck, but relationships have been founded on a whole lot less.