A Sister's All You Need
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Sister's All You Need ?
Alarm bells sound from the start this week for A Sister's All You Need, as Haruto declares his intent to try to date Miyako. Interestingly, despite having all the trappings of a raunchy romcom, the show hasn't leaned too hard on the romance aspect until now. That's perhaps merciful, given how easy it is to dislike most of the main cast. Watching someone like Haruto attempt to woo the least offensive member of his circle of friends would probably turn out more painful than anything else. Fortunately, ASAYN itself seems to agree and subverts our expectations to focus more on the ‘friendship’ part of this episode's title.
A lot of that strength comes from the story's blunt acceptance of its characters' limits. This episode is sprinkled with wry acknowledgements, like how these nerdy shut-in authors never had any friends until now, or the recurring gag about everyone assuming Itsuki understands romance just because he writes otaku-centric romantic comedies. After trying to branch out to more envelope-pushing elements that only resulted in unfortunately contentious humor in the past couple weeks, its a sigh of relief to see ASAYN return to its comfort zone, even if that comfort zone involved a lengthy exchange of poop jokes between Itsuki and Nayu.
That kind of outrageous-yet-assured rapport between the characters does play to the series' strengths though, and that established chemistry results in arguably the best part of not only the episode but the series in a while. Haruto's potential feelings for Miyako get put on the back-burner to instead focus on Nayu throwing a surprise birthday party for her instead, and its turn toward earnestness reminds us of the surprising parts of ASAYN that have worked since episode one. The friendship between the two girls has always been one of the more passively intriguing parts of this show, since that type of relationship doesn't always get a fair shake in this type of series, and if at the beginning of their little celebration you're hoping for more time devoted to these two, you'll swiftly be rewarded.
From the start, Nayu writing an exclusive novel for Miyako where she stars as the main character is an incredibly sweet gesture that works well for the characters involved. The interaction also effectively grounds the conversation mostly between Nayu and Miyako to focus on why they're friends in the first place, with the oversexed Nayu explaining that Miyako's lack of worldly experiences don't factor into her opinion of her; Nayu respects her purely for her character and empathy. For her part, Miyako gets to bring up the show's occasional theme of going into your twenties with worries about succeeding enough. Miyako has always been our not-so-secret ‘viewpoint character’, and this week the show really tries to put us in her shoes rather than simply using her as a window through which to observe all the weirdness of light novel authors.
The increased intensity of the ‘bonding moment’ between Miyako and Nayu is still such a transparent excuse for fanservice that even the other characters call it out, but it works because the show knows when to stop the teasing, and it's borne out of the genuinely sweet connection these characters share. Honestly, I would have happily watched a show just about the eccentric light-novel author forming a friendship with this normal college girl. The two have a friendly chemistry that the series would do well to utilize more moving forward.
We're then treated to an interlude of Miyako actually reading the novel Nayu wrote for her, which partly riffs on the self-important eroticism of some light novels. It also communicates the raw authorial skill Nayu is touted to have, to the point that it's implied her writing actually caused Miyako's sexual awakening. It's a funny sequence that leads to even more reflective character development for Miyako, especially in light of the concerns she brought up at her birthday. But we barely have time to dwell on her too-real young adult concern of “Am I going to be okay like this?” before the show takes us to its last portion, an intended double date between Itsuki and Nayu and the prospective Haruto/Miyako couple.
I'll be blunt, Haruto's intended pursuit of Miyako is painful from all angles. Admittedly, he never does anything gross or embarrassing throughout the excursion, but his undercurrent of sadness-induced fixation on a nice girl who's conveniently in his friend circle will be way too eye-rollingly familiar to anyone who's been on either side of that infuriating equation. There are some cute asides, like our clueless nerd authors forgetting what day of the week it is, or Itsuki and Nayu finally finding something they have chemistry over (thrill rides, of all things). Haruto, for his part, does show some growth in his ultimate decision not to pursue Miyako. But in the end, the last-minute attempt to mine pathos from this guy's extinguished torch for someone he's been crushing on out of desperation for two days just falls flat. Thankfully the pleasant fluff between the other characters in this piece outweighs that misfired element. “Love and Friendship is All You Need” goes home stronger for continuously rounding back to the ‘Friendship’ between these characters.
A Sister's All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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