Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki
by Kim Morrissy,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki ?
This episode is a bit oddly arranged. The election itself ends anticlimactically halfway through the episode, and the rest of it is concerned with the aftermath. This arc has always been more concerned about developing Mimimi as a character than it was about student politics, so I appreciated the bait and switch here, even if it was a bit painful to see the obvious outcome rear its head so bluntly and quickly.
The election sure was fun while it lasted, though. Watching Hinami's speech was a blast because it truly does convey her charisma as well as her keen understanding of the audience she's dealing with. First, she acknowledges the cynicism among the students ("It doesn't matter who wins because nothing will change"), and then cheekily wins everyone to her side by dunking on the teachers for being out of touch. Fun fact: Installing air conditioners throughout a school is a genuine political issue, with over 50% of Japanese classrooms not having them. Ouch. I guarantee that anyone who has experienced a single Japanese summer in a room without air conditioning would get on board with Hinami's campaign promise.
Tomozaki's trick to fake an ad-libbed dialogue was also pretty amusing. By portraying Mimimi as a chill sort of person who can take a joke at her own expense, she can emphasize her own style of charisma. I do lowkey get the impression that this scene was included to subtly prove that Tomozaki is a very different kind of person from Oregairu's Hachiman, who would have tried to tamper with the election by making himself out to be the villain. A guy as straight-laced and honest as Tomozaki was never going to come up with a trick that was inherently deceitful, so even though the event was scripted, it was done in service of emphasizing Mimimi's genuine personality.
Unfortunately, Mimimi still loses the election, but at least Hinami seemed to find the trick delightful. In the world of social interactions, the rivalry between Tomozaki and Hinami is only budding at the moment, but this scene proves the potential for it to grow into a battle of wits of equal footing. Since she's the type to value results over strict truthfulness, it's no wonder that she didn't get affronted about Tomozaki's attempt to manipulate the atmosphere. She quickly reveals that she wasn't exactly playing fair herself, having been spying on the enemy camp. It just goes to show that in the world of politics, deceit is the name of the game. It's a merciful thing that the whole charade was low stakes to begin with, so everyone ends up accepting the results like a good sport.
...Except for Mimimi, that is. At first, she puts up a cheerful front and says it wasn't a big deal, but her actions in the aftermath tell a different story. Her friend Hanabi astutely observes that she's been pushing herself lately when it comes to athletics out of her desperate desire to beat Hinami at something, anything. The episode ends with an establishing scene of the friendship between Mimimi, Hanabi, and Hinami, capped off with Tomozaki's ominous narration that Mimimi started to act strangely after that day. It's a bit of an abrupt ending for an episode, all things said and done, but it does set the scene for the ultimate conflict of this arc: How can Tomozaki help Mimimi overcome this unhealthy rivalry?
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