A Sister's All You Need
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Sister's All You Need ?
Beyond the intrusive fanservice, gross humor, and meandering pacing, the biggest obstacle to A Sister's All You Need's appeal has been its characters. I know I've hammered on this, but generally these just aren't likable people. That issue creates a major problem when the typical format of an episode is just hanging out and watching them crack gross jokes. The dramatic elements have usually worked to elicit an emotional response from the audience regardless, not to mention sometimes explaining why the protagonists are the way they are, but this episode finally stretches things too far.
Probably the best decision this episode makes is focusing its opening portion on Miyako, as we get to see a day in the life of one of the few adults amongst these various flavors of petulant children. She runs an errand for Itsuki down to the publisher's office and ends up having to corral Nayuta as well. The whole scene between the two girls that follows is simply bizarre. Nayuta, whose work ethic had not been questioned previously, comes off more infantile this time, and even her typically salacious language is toned down. Her immediate stripping of Miyako is somewhat worn out as a gag at this point, even if it is amusing to see how nonchalantly Miyako has acclimated to Nayuta's odd lifestyle. Much stranger is her language dancing around how exactly she hopes to ‘play’ with Miyako.
There's been some fanservicey fooling-around between the girls under the thin guise of ‘research’ before, to say nothing of Nayuta and Kaiko's tryst a couple of episodes ago. While it's obviously just cheesecake fodder that I probably shouldn't be thinking too hard about, the awkward way this scene hovers around the particulars compared to the show's prior enthusiasm for shamelessly sexual content makes me feel like it would be more compelling if they just went all the way with their implications. Miyako already has a more-than-friendly chemistry toward Nayuta and if the two are engaging in some sort of casual sexual relationship, maybe the show ought to just come out and say it.
It's all a roundabout way of letting Miyako learn more about Nayuta's relationship with her editor, which is strained to say the least. This editor has always been in the background, so finally giving her a little development is nice, but the resulting picture it paints of Nayuta just makes her come off more difficult, and we don't learn anything else beyond her impressive writing skills that we've always been made aware of. The idea that someone would engage with this unpleasant person just because they're impressed by their talents isn't terribly ground-breaking, especially since there have already been a couple relationships in this series to develop that concept.
That feeling of going through the same cynical motions is present for the majority of this episode's runtime. Once again we get a scene of the main cast drinking and playing a game around the table, and it's hard not to groan because it's such a tired fallback at this point. Previously these segments would be used to further define the characters, but this late in the series, we aren't going to learn anything new from watching them play another storytelling game. By now it just feels like the author taking up time to ramble about board games they enjoy, and while ASAYN has always been pretty self-indulgent, it could usually make that indulgence engaging before.
The in-game story that unfolds feels so much like more of the same from ASAYN that the near-constant nudity is unaffecting, simply because we're desensitized to it at this point. There is at least one point of envelope-pushing absurdity, in a dick-attack-on-Titan joke that exemplifies the kind of gross insanity this show can execite when it's on its A-game, but even that passes too quickly to a more-standard montage of nudity and basic dick jokes. It's not shock humor if we aren't surprised by it anymore.
With the show basically on cruise-control for this episode, it closes by attempting some dramatic character development that finally runs into the wall of the cast's unlikability. The question of why Itsuki doesn't date Nayuta gets brought up yet again, and while his inferiority complex on the issue has always been apparent, the way he finally puts it into words only betrays a repulsive worldview. Basically, Itsuki is self-centered to the point that he wouldn't want to be in a relationship with anyone whose success overshadows his own; he sees simply being her boyfriend or husband as being a ‘nobody’ because she's the more skilled and famous of the pair, a position he wants for himself in their relationship instead. The framing of his confession seems to indicate that the series thinks this is a sympathetic position, but all Itsuki's selfishness ends up telling the the audience is that Nayuta could really do better.
Tripping over that hurdle in its characterization is what sinks the one thing ASAYN's generally been good at until now. It doesn't help that this episode reinforced how little the characters have improved up until this point, belittling the audience's investment in them being rewarded for growing as people. These characters come across as stuck in a developmental limbo of their own making, but when they treat themselves and the people around them the way they do, I can't help but think they deserve it.
A Sister's All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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