by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Everyone who's ever been a high school anime fan has known somebody like Kai (and if you didn't, it's time to face the sobering possibility that you were your friend group's Kai). He's a fan who has a tough time discerning between anime and real life, and even when it's played for laughs, there are still hints of the social isolation and discord his runaway imagination can cause. Perhaps that's why this week's episode of Anime-Gataris, “Kaikai Love Climax,” was a little difficult to watch. I couldn't help feeling like all of the episode's social catastrophes wouldn't have occurred if our cast had a slightly firmer grasp on reality.
It's time for the Anime Club's first overnight trip! They're starting by checking out their favorite anime meccas, beginning with the real-world settings of Girls & Panzer (called Girls & Tank here, of course). An anime mecca tour blurs the lines of anime and reality by its very nature, so it's no wonder that Kai is simultaneously having his own anime-protagonist-style struggle. Miko wanted to talk to him about something after school, and later she tripped on the train, causing her breasts to spill out over his knees. Neither of these events necessarily correlates to a love confession—unless of course, you've watched a lot of anime. “This isn't my genre!” Kai bemoans.
Meanwhile, Minoa has been doing her homework. She's learned a ton about anime meccas and anime phenomena like “God rays” (illustrated helpfully by her friend Yui, who seems to have existed these last few episodes purely for her athletic fanservice opportunities). But while they're traveling, Minoa experiences some minor mishaps that her friends shrug off as bad luck, while Minoa worries that she's ruining everyone's good time. Then Kai's poorly timed anime outburst in Minoa's general direction has her ready to take the next train home. Maybe the anime club isn't the most socially adept club, but they care about their friend. While Minoa's in the outdoor bath, it's time for everyone else to have a “Minoa-gatari.” Of course it's Minoa, not Kai, who has the rightful main character role, since she's the outsider looking in on anime fandom—and loving what she sees. What anime fan wouldn't want to protect Minoa's smile?
It's another reminder that this show could only have been made by fans for fans, and there's a lot of effort that goes into making these constant references and parodies pitch perfect. This episode went above and beyond with creative references to anime titles, stories, and settings. I didn't get all the meccas referenced, but if you'd like to check your work, redditor Leon Kevlar posted all the answers in r/anime. (My favorite fake title this episode was Yuri!!! on Nice.) Even when the social awkwardness gets to be a lot, it's the genuine love of these characters, and by extension their creators, that keeps me endeared. Well, that and the sheer number of jokes this show does manage to land—I especially appreciated the recurring joke of Arisu's butler Sebastian and his convenient appearances.
In the end, it isn't Kai's tenuous grasp on real life, but Miko's that dissolves their chances at a love story before it even begins. Kai may be a diehard supernatural action anime fan, but Miko is a fujoshi through and through, and she interprets Kai's confession as an admission of love for the only other male club member, Nakano. Kai may not be good in social situations, but don't worry, he's in similar company. That final discovery made his antics just a tad easier to watch.
Anime-Gataris is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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