The kids call it “tsundere.”
What They Say:
“Miko Iino Wants to Control Herself / Kaguya Doesn’t Scare Easily / Kaguya Wants to Be Examined”
The newly formed student council welcomes Miko as the auditor, but for some reason the student council room is full of tension. Miko is such a stickler for the rules that if she sees anything that appears remotely inappropriate she frequently ends up harshly berating them.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To balance out the intensity of two weeks ago, last week gave us the goofiest episode of the season, one with no lasting importance aside from a brief mention in this episode, and virtually none of the new student council dynamic with Miko, again with the exception of a small running gag that is touched upon in this episode. With that out of the way, we’re back to a more normal episode, keeping its comedy relatively grounded while injecting small moments of drama to complement it. Perhaps most importantly, Miko’s position on the council is given central focus right out of the gate.
One of the most exciting things about shaking up the student council a bit was the prospect of a new personality offering fresh dynamics with every member of the established cast for the first time since early in the series, and that was before we got the emotional investment in Miko from two episodes ago. Now we finally get to see how she fits in, and while it’s a pretty straightforward return to her less likable roots for the sake of comedy, the way all of our regulars play off of that strictness makes it more than worthwhile. It drives home how much the characters have changed; at the beginning of the series, Shirogane and especially Kaguya were the proper sticklers, with Chika providing the external comic relief (in addition to their internal battles, of course), and Ishigami hadn’t yet appeared. Now, in sharp contrast to Miko’s sensibilities, we see not only Ishigami breaking rules as has always fit his character, but Shirogane nonchalantly joining in and even Kaguya casually watching. In a deliberately ironic display, Chika of all people is spared from Miko’s judgment due to the respect that defines their relationship in a way that has never existed for Chika before.
This could be seen as out of character and exaggerated for the sake of painting Miko in a certain light and requiring the rest of the cast to conflict with that. However, it’s really more of a sign of character development, much in the same way that Shirogane and Kaguya have softened up and grown more openly affectionate in general. This is actually one of the most subtly beautiful things about the series; it seemed like a show that would keep telling the same joke over and over, and it would’ve been surprisingly successful at that, but its real strength is in its heart, and that it allows its character to gradually evolve as real people do when spending time together like this. Even if it wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny or adorably romantic, segments like this let us hang out with a group of close friends that anyone would aspire to have. That’s not what the show purports itself to be, but it may be what it’s best at.
Next we get one of the most contrived tropes in the books. A series like this, of course, is extremely aware of this fact and draws attention to that fact immediately. What sets it apart from the countless other iterations isn’t just that acknowledgment, but how it uses the show’s unique premise to provide a twist of dramatic irony in an almostRomeo and Juliet-like case of both parties paradoxically believing the same thing which is false on both counts. Anyone could guess that it doesn’t progress any further than what it teases up front, but this is ultimately another example of those developments that build upon the central relationship of the series in unseen ways that only become apparent as more time passes.
The significance of these events aren’t forgotten easily, as the very next segment seems to use them as a basis for a further change in Kaguya’s mental and even physical state with regard to her feelings for Shirogane. It’s set up as an extremely serious turn that could be the start of a tragic story, but that’s all a brilliant ploy to set up the single best punch line of the episode. Kaguya is fantastic throughout this sequence, but Hayasaka may steal the show with her vicarious embarrassment for just how bad Kaguya has it for her boy. The doctor is also an interesting element as more than just a straight-laced delivery method of comedy, as there are subtle hints of his relationships with the rest of Kaguya’s family.
By no means is this episode anything but comedy, but it reminds us that the most valuable material comes not from hilarity or heart-throbbing but from the beauty of friendship. Hanging out with this group has become so much more rewarding as the characters and their relationships have developed substantially but with incredible nuance over time. The romance between the protagonists is of course the greatest example of this, but no character is left out of the growth, and Miko is a great new addition.
Streamed By: Funimation
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