A Sister's All You Need
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Sister's All You Need ?
The defining moment of this sixth episode is the underwhelming premiere of the anime adaptation of Haruto's novel series, and the mixed to negative reactions it gets. There's a certain irony to this, because this is easily the most uneven episode of A Sister's All You Need to date as well. There's a lot of time-wasting and some content that's bound to be a turn-off or even a last straw for those who have stuck it out this long. But then that final scene with its strong emotional core comes up and reminds you that this series can do better, when it's not disgusting or boring us.
To start, Itsuki meets the artist for the manga adaptation of his own series. There are a lot of places they could have gone with Kaiko Mikuniyama here, and while having her turn out to be a little sister fetishist who's almost as perverted as Itsuki isn't the most creative option, it's still executed in a funny way. More than that, it presents a sense of optimism about how the adaptation of Itsuki's novel may go, and that will be important as a bookend by the time this episode ends. She doesn't show up past the introduction though, as the rest of the episode is spent almost entirely on the established cast simply hanging out together.
One of the most impactful parts of the episode (though not in a good way) actually comes between these gatherings, as Chihiro ducks away from the cherry blossom viewing party to fetch some things and gets accosted by Setsuna. Now, it's easy to see what joke the show is trying to set up here, and it's decently informed by prior character development. Despite being warned about it, Chihiro thinks they don't have to worry about street harassment since they're dressed as a boy, and the last episode already established Setsuna as good-natured but unnaturally fixated on butts from an artistic reference standpoint. So it's a multi-layered irony that Chihiro is shocked to be accosted anyway, even though we know Setsuna probably doesn't mean anything by it.
Unfortunately, the scene still isn't that funny in execution, instead crossing the line into uncomfortable as fast as Setsuna can forcibly yank Chihiro's pants down. We can already guess that Chihiro is deeply uncomfortable with being exposed from what little we know about their situation, not to mention the raw reality of how unfunny this situation would be in any case, so it all results in a bit that calls the show's raunchy sense of humor into question. ASAYN's sex-comedy stylings had been relatively good-natured up until this point, so trying to get laughs out of the (albeit accidental) assault of a character in the street isn't a good look at all.
It's possible the whole thing is a setup to Setsuna having information on Chihiro's secret situation that the other characters don't for a future reveal, but for this week the show just moves on to the next sequence of characters sitting around playing games in Itsuki's apartment. The game is at least decently interesting this time (I actually checked to see if Cat & Chocolate was available in English and sadly, it appears it is not), giving us amusing insight into each author's style, but it simply drags on long enough to mostly feel like padding. This scene surprisingly features offhand remarks from both Itsuki and Nayu relating to tragic elements of their backstory that haven't been elaborated upon yet. Given that Nayu's past issues form a major part of the show's emotional backdrop, it feels odd to directly reveal her past bullying and traumatic isolation in such a nonchalant way. I supposed this is how these types of things tend to come up in real life, but it still feels like an unusual choice for a series that has reveled in its emotional depths as surprisingly often as its dick jokes.
However, that emotional core is still around, and the premiere of Haruto's anime brings it back in a big way. As rough a ride as this episode was beforehand, this final scene is a home-run, featuring a clever use of background music that seamlessly fades from enthusiastic to depressing as the premiere wears on. Having the on-screen Twitter feed illustrate the plummeting opinion on the series is smart too—a cavalcade of negative reactions does a more palpable job of selling the author's crushed feelings better than any parodically bad clips from the episode they could have shown directly. It lets our imagination do the work on how poorly the episode turned out, and the result resonates better in a scene being played for drama rather than comedy.
This of course leads to the dour bookend response to Itsuki's hopeful opening scene about his manga adaptation, as the group comes to the conclusion that your media doesn't always turn out how you want it to; sometimes it doesn't even come close. Haruto's outburst quantifies this from the author's perspective, but it's Miyako layman's response that makes it work for everyone watching, leading to an effective opposite experience from Itsuki's triumph last week. Even if you aren't affected, seeing someone else's creation fail can be a lousy feeling.
That last scene is worth a lot of points on its own, but the rest of the episode's metric ton of baggage doesn't help it out. The hangout scenes drag on, and the Setsuna/Chihiro bit is unfunny and a bad look for the show's personality (which was never super-likable in the first place). I want to commend the big finish on this one, I just wish it wasn't so much of a slog to get there.
A Sister's All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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