A Sister's All You Need
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Sister's All You Need ?
After a slow episode last week ending in a well-executed downer, A Sister's All You Need seems to want to pick us up with something fun and exciting. I don't follow the original novels for this series, but even I had heard about ‘the chapter where the cast play Dungeons & Dragons together’. It's a conceit that's been done in other stories before, but the eccentric personalities and comedy chops of ASAYN still make it a good fit for the show, in theory.
The adventure actually kicks off in an appropriate place, with Itsuki spurring Haruto into running the game as a way to cheer him up and get his mind off the poor performance of his anime. It's a somewhat uncharacteristically kind gesture from the notoriously self-absorbed Itsuki, and that undercurrent of goodwill runs through a lot of what happens in this episode. Though we've seen Itsuki get distracted by his perverted sister-complex ways in games from previous episodes, and while you might think a role-playing game would give him even more license to cut loose, he's arguably the most pragmatic and professional about the missions the party undertakes. This makes it seem like he might be doing his best specifically for Haruto's sake. It also spares the audience from the potential height of his antics otherwise, which is important since Nayu gives us no such courtesy.
From there, the party of Itsuki, Nayu, Miyako, and Chihiro partake in imaginary fantasy shenanigans. It's amusing to see the party wind up consisting of a quartet of cute sisters, complete with Itsuki himself actually being a little sister (much to his confused consternation), along with some minor teases regarding Chihiro's secret situation. The game itself is also packed with details and references to Dungeoning and/or Dragoning that tabletop players will pick up on, whether it's the miniatures you have on hand not necessarily matching your characters or talking during battles being a free action to an absurd degree. However, these little touches and references to the nuts and bolts of the game may be less interesting to those that don't partake in role-playing, coming across more as fanservice for those in the hobby than an effort to make the game seem fun to anyone watching.
Of course, that isn't likely to be a huge issue in the face of all the other fanservice flying around this episode. The characters immediately peg Nayu's character conceit of a sex-crazed ten-year-old as a source of trouble, and they are proven right from their first encounter. Admittedly, there are some amusing touches to her impromptu sexual session with Miyako, such as the enemies' shocked confusion or Itsuki covering Chihiro's eyes, but ultimately it's played too blatantly for titillation and goes on far too long, making for a scene that's far more uncomfortable than the comparatively pleasant fanservice from earlier episodes. It's weird that a show that worked better before by having actual grown-ups get naked around each other for mildly sexy shenanigans has now just descended into more standard sigh-worthy anime fanservice cliches, but that's two episodes in a row it's done this so maybe that's a sign of what to expect going forward. At least the other characters react in appropriate horror, and the show even throws up an appreciated disclaimer that sexually harassing other players is a crappy thing to do in real life.
It doesn't stop there though, as this is definitely ASAYN's sauciest episode to date. Heck, between the multi-layered fanservice in premise and execution, this could almost pass for a bonus pack-in OVA were it not for how directly it ties into Haruto's situation from the previous episode. It will still probably move a lot of the show's blu-ray sales, as an attack by a tentacle monster yields some censored-for-TV nude battle scenes for the cast. It is somewhat appreciable to see them trying their best in the fight regardless, with Itsuki even calling Haruto out for inserting such blatant fetishes into his campaign. If the sexy selling point had just been this scene instead of Nayu's antics, I probably could have filed the fanservice back under ‘good-natured’ this week, especially given the D&D gimmick driving the whole thing.
Other than ASAYN earning back its reputation as a fanservice-driven show, there's surprisingly little notable about this episode, given its anticipated premise. The fantasy action is surprisingly well-animated for what had just been a sexy sitcom previously. There are other fun touches throughout, such as Haruto's voice actor doing all the voices for the NPCs in the campaign, Itsuki actually catching onto Haruto's writing style in the story, and Itsuki's hilariously spot-on Unlimited Blade Works impression. The basic idea that Itsuki is trying his best for Haruto's sake is a pleasant sentiment, which shows some real growth of our unpleasant protagonist out of his self-serving bubble. However, those are all just little bits sprinkled on top of what is otherwise a pretty rote outing for ASAYN. The central D&D gimmick could have elevated this to an outrageous one-off episode to be recommended even to those not following this show, but beyond the divisive bouts of fanservice, it never really pushes the envelope by doing anything unique with the idea beyond what you might expect from a role-playing subplot in a harem show. It's not really bad, but it's definitely not good enough to stand out either.
A Sister's All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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