Akiba'S Trip The Animation
Episode 7

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Akiba's Trip: The Animation ?

Older siblings can be tough to deal with; even when they're protecting the city from super-powered baddies, they still end up breaking your stuff. When Tamotsu accidentally smashes one of Niwaka's most treasured figures, he quickly becomes desperate to buy a replacement. Since prices for the rare item are sky-high, he's forced to go looking for yet another part-time job. Tamotsu's search leads him to a restaurant with a maid and butler theme, and it seems like a decent enough place to work at first glance. After a couple of long shifts, however, it becomes obvious that the employees are all brainwashed and the boss is up to something fishy. As Tamotsu gets sucked into a vicious cycle of gratifying but unpaid work, the rest of the team steps in to rescue him.

Unless you count working in a shady restaurant as a hobby, this episode deviates a bit from the “otaku subculture of the week” formula. In its place, we get a modest amount of character development for both Tamotsu and Niwaka. It's a reasonable call for the series to make, as we don't really know much about the main cast beyond their basic personalities. While we don't get anything spectacular out of this episode, it's nice to see how the siblings' shared interest in anime has shaped their relationship over the years. It calls to mind the geeky bonding moments that gave the cast some instant chemistry in the first episode and provides some extra emotional glue to hold the team together.

Since it's obvious from the beginning that something's not right about Tamotsu's new job, most of the fun comes from watching things go from suspicious to downright sinister. The permanently smiling employees are a comedic highlight, with their insane devotion to their jobs spiraling out of control as the episode plays out. It's a goofy, humorous take on the old premise of having the main character be the only sane person in a crazy situation. The weak link in the chain is the creepy boss, who is a little too generic to leave any sort of lasting impression. Perhaps he would've been more entertaining if he had been a touch crazier himself instead of just being a regular scheming baddie. We needed some properly unhinged monologues to take advantage of that evil grin.

When the rest of the gang figures out that Tamotsu has gone off the deep end, their deductive process is funny in and of itself. Rather than his increasingly ghostly complexion or his obsessive behavior, the tipoff is the fact that Tamotsu actually wants to work. It's a fun use of the oldest otaku character flaw in the book. Aside from that built-in joke, the inevitable fight scene is fairly short and underwhelming. At this point in the season, it seems like the focus has shifted away from eye-catching action and toward providing a definitive ending to each story arc. It's almost an automatic process at this point; as soon as the villain of the week is no longer needed, they're stripped and booted off the stage. It's a weird place for the series to be in, considering that the strip fights were a bigger deal at the beginning of the season. I'm glad that Akiba's Trip isn't wallowing in fanservice, but it could actually stand to include more than we've seen in the past couple weeks.

By tweaking its usual narrative structure a bit, this episode makes time for some much-needed character development. It also has some moments of solid comedy, but it lacks the over-the-top narrative and visual bombast that kept things interesting early on in the season. As much as I hate to sound like a broken record, the big-picture plot also continues to be notably absent. It's still an entertaining show, but it could do with a solid kick in the pants to get some of its energy back.

Rating: B-

Akiba'S Trip The Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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