I must confess there are times where I wonder if I’m watching the same show as most other people, and this season’s Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is one of them. There were a lot of complaints about the first chapter from last week, “Presence”. Complaints which looped in the dream sequences from the first ep, along the lines of “they’re wasting the season with this stuff”, and “how come there’s no development?”. Silent comedy has a glorious history for starters, and any time an anime tries it I applaud it – especially when it’s done this well. And the dream sequence was a developer if ever I saw one.
This week’s episode has unsurprisingly gotten some “at last!” praise from those quarters. It was indeed a quiet week in Lake Woebegon sort of episode, with normal service very much restored for the first couple of chapters (which could as easily have been in the first season as the third). Series like this tend to save the meaty “continuity” chapters for last, which I think is smart, and that one was indeed a plot mover. But the plot actually moves all the time with this series, it just that it happens so gradually that it’s easy to miss.
I can’t imagine there were too many of us that didn’t know exactly what Takagi was planning when she proposed that game with the eraser and the fan – that wasn’t one of Nishikata-kun’s finest moments, even for him. Again, a chapter that could have happened anywhere in the timeline – as could the “Douyoubi” cat interlude (their material, unlike the main story, doesn’t get a lot of progression and is strictly episodic). Then we had Nishikata’s manga fantasy “Bewilder Ball”, a very amusing if likewise transient teasing segment. The highlight here was definitely Nishi’s fantasy sequence (complete with Ootsuka Houchuu play by play), which unfortunately broke through into his RL dialogue.
This was all building to the umbrella bit, though, which puts to the lie the idea that the series – and the relationship it chronicles – doesn’t progress. As I noted in the comments last week it’s like having a little brother whose growth you don’t notice because you see him every day, and then one day you realize with a start that he’s taller than you are. This was a chapter that could never have taken place early in the timeline – though it does have a “full circle” quality to it. If you recall it was Nishikata’s innate niceness that set this relationship off and running in the first place – he turned in Takagi’s lost handkerchief (and got himself in trouble for lateness on his first day of middle school for his trouble).
There is a bit of a recurring theme here, in Nishi being too nice for his own good and suffering for it. On the other hand, Takagi-san has matured to the point where she acknowledges his kindness and backs off on the teasing. Not to mention that until recently Nishikata would never have had the balls to invite her to share “his” umbrella (Takagi’s blush is a surefire tell, if only Nishi wasn’t so consumed with his own misery to notice it) – it’s hard to overstate the aura of the dreaded aiaigasa in Japanese pubescent romantic relationships. It’s also full-circle in that Takagi shared her umbrella with Nishi not all that long ago, but the fact that it was him initiating it this time gives it a lot more significance. That’s development for you – though I was mildly disappointed not to get a new ED this week…