A Sister's All You Need
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Sister's All You Need ?
From the beginning, this episode of A Sister's All You Need had potential to be one of the good ones. It focuses on Chihiro, so the promise of shedding some light on the character's frustratingly nebulous situation made for a good selling point, as did the inclusion of my breakout favorite character, Ashley Ono. In practice however, Chihiro finally spilling some details with Ashley all happens within the first few minutes of the episode, leaving the rest of it wandering uncertainly.
The usually attention-getting Ashley isn't even used that creatively. The gag about her personal and professional presentations of cleanliness being sharply removed from each other isn't terribly fresh, especially since ‘anime tax accountant’ was such a clever place to start. The truly impressive cockroach-murdering prowess of Chihiro's cleaning effort is worth a giggle, but that's pretty much the height of this segment's comedy. And the fact that Ashley stumbles onto Chihiro's secret via something as simple as an unlocked bathroom door is even more rote, with the frustrating ‘explanation’ scene that follows hardly explaining anything at all.
From what we can understand, Chihiro is a girl as her parents and school know her, but she presents as a boy to Itsuki and by extension his friends. Thus far, no explanation for this ruse has been attempted by Chihiro herself. The most we get is some light teasing from Ashley that implies the reason to be because Chihiro and Itsuki's parents are aware of his little-sister-fetish and set Chihiro up as a ‘little brother’ around him to prevent him from acting on uncouth impulses.
It's a situation that could be worth some interesting, if unnerving, conversations. The little-sister-complex novels this series homages rarely touch on the family situations of people who have such fixations. If Itsuki's father and step-mother indeed recognized his incestuous predilections as so dangerous that they felt Chihiro's only recourse for safety was to pretend to be his little brother, the story could actually say something about how messed-up and damaging this fetish has been to others without him even realizing it. But aside from those very vague hints, this story doesn't even commit to that reasoning, simply revealing the Chihiro secret while maddeningly sitting on the ‘why’, as only a tertiary character like Ashley is brought in on the truth.
It's hard to tell if this revelation will ever go anywhere, since the rest of the Chihiro and Itsuki content in this episode is simply focused on the rest of their disjointed family situation. This episode actually opens with a flashback to Itsuki witnessing his mother's death (as briefly mentioned a few episodes ago), explaining that his resentfulness toward his father for remarrying so quickly is what led to him moving out and cutting off contact. As demonstrated throughout the series, Itsuki has built an affable brotherly relationship with Chihiro. It's a nice connection to see when we aren't questioning the reason for Chihiro's gender secrecy, and the poor younger sibling seems desperate to try and mend fences between father and son. Is Chihiro's desire to open up to Itsuki borne out of wanting to reveal herself as his sister, to help her family communicate openly and honestly? Is she genuinely worried about Itsuki's fetish interfering with their relationship, or is she oddly fine with it? We don't know, because we aren't given anything beyond sentimental presentation and basic revelations we'd pretty much already figured out. It's an irritatingly vague element of a series that has always been happy to be otherwise blunt.
That bluntness is present in the other chunk halfway through this episode, a not-date between Nayu and Itsuki to the zoo. If I'm being honest, I have no idea why this scene is here beyond taking up time between the Itsuki/Chihiro hemming and hawing. They go to the zoo, Nayu takes pictures of animal dicks, and then they talk about those animal dicks. Unlike the funny shark-schlong joke from earlier in the series, this whole exercise is just presented in an odd and uncomfortable way that makes you think Nayu might genuinely need her head examined. Instead of delivering shock value, this distraction feels like the tame opposite: dick jokes just because we expect dick jokes. There's even a too on-the-nose admission that Nayu's eccentricities are mostly there to fuel the fantasy of having perverted conversations with a cute girl, which only reminded me that we've never gotten any in-universe explanation for why Nayu acts so bizarrely oversexed.
So aside from the Chihiro reveal (which doesn't actually explain anything) and touching on Itsuki's parental situation, there isn't much to this episode. It feels more like teasing plot points for later without really moving the story forward. And though the series has done slice-of-life antics before, sandwiching Itsuki and Nayu at the zoo between all this sibling and family drama just makes it feel like filler. There is a quick scene of Itsuki and his editor that makes a good joke about how far a little-sister fetish could go, as well as a post-credits scene that implies Haruto might be growing that fetish himself (because we needed that guy to become more unlikable somehow), but none of it amounts to any new ideas. If this episode was going to eschew the show's stronger elements in favor of teasing plot points, it should have at least made them worth teasing.
A Sister's All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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