Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki
by Kim Morrissy,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki ?
Gosh, Tomozaki sure was a third wheel in this episode. It does make sense that he's not able to cheer up Mimimi on his own, though. She likes him and trusts him, but they're not close like she is with Hanabi. Tomozaki's role in this episode was akin to that of a mediator who sets the scene for reconciliation. In the end, I really liked how this turned out to be a storyline where the main character became a supporting character.
Poor Mimimi, though. This episode laid out all of her messy, complicated feelings for Hinami, from her painful and one-sided rivalry to their sweet friendship. She is tempted to quit the track and field club not because she has given up on beating Hinami, but because she hates how her jealousy has tainted their friendship. The answer she eventually settles on, that she's number one in Hanabi's heart, is a little pat, but honestly it's hard to see how else to resolve a dilemma like this. The thing about rivalries that encompass every aspect of life is that they end up consuming your self-worth. Growing up is about knowing when to pick your battles.
Overall, I was moderately entertained but not blown away by this arc, as it was mostly a low-key character study and Mimimi isn't my favorite character. That said, I find it interesting how Mimimi's situation brings out a key difference between Tomozaki and Hinami. Whereas Hinami is obsessed with being number one and finding external validation, Tomozaki is more inwardly focused. When it comes to Attack Family, the person he's competing against is the image he has of his own self. The dynamic between the two of them is becoming increasingly nuanced, as it becomes clearer that Hinami is giving good advice about dealing with people, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
There is one particular trait that Tomozaki and Hinami have in common, however: They won't go easy on people just because they are doing their best. Just as Tomozaki refused to "read the room" and go easy on Nakamura during their Attack Family rematch, Hinami never once lowered her standards to appease Mimimi. When Mimimi found herself wishing that Hinami would "read the room," she also instinctively grasped that it was wrong of her to think this. There are certain things about themselves that people shouldn't compromise just to fit in. In the end, Mimimi dealt with her problem not by demanding change of the people around her, but through changing herself. The theme of self-improvement runs deep in this story.
As for where the anime will go from here, the episode ends with Hinami clarifying that she and Mizusawa aren't dating, but the exact relationship between the two of them is still up in the air. She throws a meaningful glance at Tomozaki at this point, almost as if saying, "You get it, don't you?" On one hand, you could interpret that as romantic teasing between her and Tomozaki, but I also get the impression that this is a hint that there's something deeper going on with Mizusawa. We'll see where the next few episodes take us.
Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki is currently streaming on Funimation Entertainment.
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