by Rebecca Silverman,
Oh, Celestial Method. I so badly want to like you, but this episode, which marks the halfway point of the series, just doesn't do enough to advance the plot, making my patience wane. It is the inevitable hot springs episode, but Celestial Method does deserve credit for not making it about wacky hijinks and boobs. Instead we open with a raffle, for which the first prize is a hot springs trip. Noel, who has no idea what a hot spring is, desperately wants to win. Nonoka, on the other hand, is really hoping for third place, which is a really nice pot. (And who can blame her? Those things are seriously underrated.) They land second place, a stuffed saucer, but Shione gets the trip and in a rare moment of friendliness invites Noel along with her. Unbeknownst to them, Yuzuki has been given hot springs vouchers for the exact same resort. She decides to use the trip as a chance to apologize to Nonoka and asks Koharu to facilitate it. Poor Souta provides the humor for the episode with his lack of an invite.
There are several really positive things about this episode, not the least of which is that Yuzuki realizes that she has been totally unreasonable and that Nonoka has every reason not to forgive her. The slap she delivered at the old school is at the top of her worries, which only grow when she witnesses Nonoka's insane strength in an arcade punching game. (The girl can hit.) This self-reflection does a lot for Yuzuki as a character; previously her selfishness and inability to see beyond her own problems made her one of the most unlikable characters in the show. That she can start to move beyond that is a major step in the right direction and that she is still shown to be basically the same person – look at her relationship with Souta – makes it feel like character development rather than a magical transformation. Now we need to work on Shione, who is blessedly absent most of the episode. Incidentally, that's another thing that this does right: despite being at the same resort, both sets of girls get to have their own private time, never meeting up or even realizing that the other group is there. We do see Shione wonder when the last time she wasn't alone was, which certainly gives us insight into her treatment of Nonoka. It just isn't quite enough yet to make it okay for her to act so cruel to someone who left for medical reasons. That raises the question of whether or not the rest of the kids even know that Nonoka's mother is dead – for many of us viewers it seems impossible that their parents wouldn't have told them, but maybe that is, in fact, the case. Since Nonoka has invited Koharu and Yuzuki to come over anytime, we should get an answer to that particular question soon.
Regretfully we get very few of our other questions answered in this episode. We know Souta is leaving soon, but none of the girls seem to care. We see all of the girls starting to bond, but none of the scenes last long enough to give us a whole lot of development. Mostly this is full of scenes of Noel being adorable while Shione looks on, Souta being bored and slightly depressed, and the other three girls hanging out. The end of the episode seems to promise that more will happen as Nonoka asks her dad for an unspecified promise, but I've felt that way before only to be let down the next week. Celestial Method really is beautiful to look at – I've rarely seen putting hair in a ponytail look so good – and is taking baby steps towards resolving its issues...but what we really need is a giant step here and there to really move things along.
Celestial Method is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman teaches writing and literature and writes ANN's manga review column RTO.
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