A Sister's All You Need
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Sister's All You Need ?
A Sister's All You Need might already be flagrant enough to trot out a beach episode this soon, but the genesis of the characters' trip still stretches credulity somewhat. I can maybe buy that Itsuki and Nayu are the type of successful authors who might afford plane tickets to Okinawa on a whim, but Miyako's a college student! Her status as ‘the responsible one’ is certainly betrayed in taking this excursion in spite of that.
Seriously though, this episode features not one, but two impromptu trips for Itsuki and friends, all just in service of breezy antics. The initial episodes of ASAYN hinted that there might be a storyline developing beyond hanging out with all these characters, but that appears to be on the back-burner until further notice. Sure, the characters do develop further and there's generally always something ‘happening’ with them, but no major events have actually transpired. So now that it seems plotting won't be a priority, how is the show faring?
Thankfully, ASAYN has settled down a bit since its opening effort to grab our attention with gross antics in its first two episodes. There's still plenty of after-hours humor, mind you (including a scene of Nayu fellating an egg that manages to be funny in its absurdity), but the show's rolling its lurid material out more smoothly. It feels more like incidental rude interludes than a ploy to push boundaries for edgy teens and otaku.
It also helps that the characters have softened up as well. Itsuki's little-sister fixation is barely brought up in this episode (though that Little Sister stamp scene transition is still obtrusive) and his conversations on the trip with Miyako and Nayu turn much more casually entertaining and occasionally introspective as a result. Nayu's hormonally-charged crush on Itsuki is still odd background noise, but a couple of scenes on their trip prove that they actually have good, friendly chemistry with each other.
Even Miyako notices this and ends up actually asking Itsuki about his refusal to date her. This is the cue for another of ASAYN's interest-piquing ‘serious’ scenes, where we see that he did indeed turn Nayu down back when he first met her, and it's implied that the sheer quality of her novels has given him a serious inferiority complex about his own writing. The show opts to use Miyako as an audience stand-in within this group of dysfunctional writers, remarking that Itsuki has more to him than she thought.
This makes for an interesting character dynamic going forward. In many other shows like this, Itsuki's character would unmistakably be the audience-insert character, a vessel for the viewers to enjoy the fantasy of being surrounded by all these cute girls. But not only does this scene indicate that the series has no problem shifting its viewpoint around so we can uncover more nuances to these characters, it does so in a way that asks us to treat someone as initially unlikable as Itsuki as though he has different layers and facets—and it actually pulls this off!
The next scene achieves a similar tone, with Miyako and Nayu going for a naked swim while Itsuki averts his eyes. There are some oddly good-natured fanservice shots here (it helps that the characters are both adults and no one's getting naked against their will), but the real surprise is that this situation suddenly prompts another heartfelt flashback, this time for Miyako and her own insecurities. She seems to have a similar inferiority complex, worrying if she missed the opportunity to live up to her potential. This seems to tie into the show's seeming central theme of worrying if you're headed in the right direction once you've hit your twenties, and if it might be too late to turn back.
This is similarly touched on in the second trip, as Itsuki and his illustrator Setsuna head north to Hokkaido. We don't get too much information on Setsuna yet, only that he's almost as flaky as Itsuki, though he has more freedom to be that way at just 16 years old. He and Itsuki seem to have a nice older/younger co-worker rapport, and the show gets some good amusement out of Setsuna actually admiring Itsuki's ridiculous writing ideas (including an actual Tsundere Shark). But without any exploration of the character beyond his basic introduction, this Hokkaido trip feels more like a distraction than a meaningful development so far.
Then Chihiro pops in again for a scene at the end of the episode. Now that the cat's out of the bag (to the audience at least), the possibility of a reveal for Itsuki hangs like the Sword of Damocles over any scene they share. It's honestly a needless distraction from the breezy proceedings of the rest of the episode, and the show would have done better to sit on the revelation until it was time for the characters themselves to find out. It's especially unfortunate since this scene proves that Itsuki and Chihiro do have a nice familial relationship. It also hints at further issues with Itsuki that are tied to him not visiting his family.
So ASAYN is pretty light this week, mixing its surprising heartfelt character development with more stupid slice-of-life antics, but it gets by for not being nearly as crass this time around (barring a truly outrageous sequence involving shark dicks). It's nice, but those moments of potential make you wish it could do better. At least it's not triggering a gag reflex anymore.
A Sister's All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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