A Couple of Cuckoos
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 15 of
A Couple of Cuckoos ?
Community score: 4.1
The previous episode ended on a high point, with Segawa stumbling onto the strange shared-sister situation Sachi was stuck in with Erika and Nagi. So naturally, A Couple of Cuckoos opts to seemingly ignore that bombshell completely for the first half of this week's entry. Instead, it takes us through a serviceably cute festival date between our key cuckoo couple, playing games and eating snacks as I stared through my sweat at the screen going "But what about Segawa?" and considered clicking back to make sure I hadn't missed an episode or something somehow. It's not really jarring, since hardly anything in Cuckoos ever lands with the kind of decisive impact that could actually provoke any type of major reaction, emotional or otherwise. But it is extremely oddly arranged, playing on us in the audience all-too-strongly remembering what just happened even as the characters themselves act like they immediately forgot after the credits rolled last week.
Maybe that's just them trying to ease us into expectations for what Cuckoos's approach to conflict resolution continues to be these days. Partway through the episode, Nagi avoids getting involved in a brawl with Erika's stalker fans by simply grabbing her and running away, with Erika taking the same action when the pair is at last confronted by Segawa halfway through the episode. "Running away" from problems doesn't prove to be the literal solution to what I generously described as a cliffhanger we ended on last week, but it's hard to look at the ultimate resolution and not see it as a bit too simple and easy a break from the potential problems they set up, even if there are other angles to appreciate it from.
That is, the way the confusion and confrontation with Segawa gets resolved with a simple sit-down conversation of Nagi and Erika just being straight and explaining the situation to her sure feels anathema to all the other dragged-out romantic misunderstandings manga has conditioned me to sit through. It instills in me an odd uncertainty of opinion, as I'm no stranger to enjoying some capital-D Drama in a series like this if it can pull it off well, but I don't have a lot of confidence that A Couple of Cuckoos is that series. In that respect, it's almost impressive to see it backpedal away from a more prolonged, intense situation just by having all the kids listen to each other and resolve that they're going to get along even better now. It does create a neat bit of unity with that overall theme of children struggling against the whims of their parents, as Segawa recognizes all their similar circumstances and resolves that they might work even better now as a knowingly-unified "Alliance". It comes off perfectly pleasantly, but I dunno – I still can't help but be a little disappointed that Cuckoos backed off so decisively from having something actually happen in its narrative for the first time in a while.
It's an approach that's supported by the framing elements of the episode, anyway, so there's no way you could accuse the writing of making this decision up as it went along. The overarching point of the whole festival-date portion is that Erika's overly-competitive attitude makes it harder for her to enjoy the event in a fulfilling way. Once Nagi encourages her to take it easier and enjoy what the festival has to offer on its own terms, she eases into the atmosphere and is much happier. This lines up with those other instances of conflict-aversion in the episode. Along with the ongoing cohabitation component of the story, this tone could set the stage for this crew of Cuckoos to realize that competing over affections (evident not simply in the inherent question of who should win the Nagi Bowl, but in things like he and Erika arguing over who actually gets to be Sachi's real sibling) might be an unhealthy approach overall. I'm not expecting a series like Cuckoos to be the one to reinvent the wheel of romance-comedy choice dynamics, but on the other hand it is a modern series with this framework now becoming visible, so at least there's some sort of potential.
And elements like the lead-up to Segawa confronting the leads about the situation, as well as the fallout from her coming to understand it, does demonstrate Cuckoos getting its head just above the intrigue water-line at times. The feeling of Segawa just stewing in the information, post-second-Sachi introduction, comes off well, since it invites the question of what you would even do with a bizarre realization like that? It might have worked even better if Segawa ever had the sort of stronger, more forceful personality that could fuel a confrontation like that, but again, this really isn't that kind of show. But for just a moment, her torrent of confusion and the more complex sub-fight it provokes between Nagi and Erika in that aforementioned argument over Sachi almost works. It instills just a flicker of hope in Segawa's episode-ending insistence for no more secrets from Nagi bringing them a bit closer, and provoking that relationship-analyzing reckoning from Sachi and Erika.
But the overall tone of this series still leaves it all propelled by the question of if anything major will come of these shifts, rather than any kind of promise for actual momentum. This is an episode that seemed to forget its preceding seismic shift, only to string the audience along and then resolve it in the most pointedly anti-climactic way possible. There's intent to it all, as I said, and it's even decently illustrated in terms of themes (not so much in terms of actual illustration, as the art quality for Cuckoos is as deteriorative as ever this week). But a rearranged holding pattern is still a holding pattern, all the same.
A Couple of Cuckoos is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.
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