Chio's School Road
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Chio's School Road ?
This week brings us some unexpected antics and revelations from the supporting cast of Chio's School Road. Momo confronts Chio and Manana during their morning commute, and she has an unusual request. She needs to visit a candy shop in order to understand a cryptic comment made by her beloved Gotou-sensei, but she's too embarrassed to go alone. Chio and Manana agree to accompany her, and chaos inevitably ensues. Later, Chio finds herself face to face with Chiharu, the pint-sized butt assassin from a few weeks ago. After some shocking revelations are made, Chio is forced to prove that she actually managed to knock Andou out by repeating the feat. Finally, Andou gets a short storyline of his own in which he has some goofy interactions with George the cat.
In Momo's latest appearance, Chio's School Road makes good use of her crush on Gotou to set up an entertaining sequence of events. There's something endearing about Momo's borderline-obsessive sincerity, if only because it creates such a contrast between her and our two main heroines. Chio and Manana clearly have no reservations about tempting Momo into loosening up a little, and the script does a nice job of throwing that idea back in their faces when they realize they've awakened a monster. Their antics in the store follow a smooth arc of escalation from mild silliness to full-blown theatrics with an award speech for pouring candy powder into a bottle of soda. The cashier's reactions are also a pleasant surprise; instead of just playing the usual comedic straight man, she goes with the flow and eggs the girls on to greater heights of comedy. While it may be a bit predictable, this is a nicely presented story with a good sense of timing and pacing.
As has been the case with a few other characters, Chiharu makes a better impression the second time around than she did in her introduction. As a random girl who attacked Chio and Manana out of the blue back in episode seven, she was essentially just crude without context. Now that we know the backstory behind her crusade against girls from Chio's high school, the whole situation is significantly funnier. I like the idea that Chiharu went after Chio not because she suspects her of being the one who put an end to Andou's biker lifestyle, but because she thinks Chio's an easy target as the first step on her path to revenge. That, in turn, forces Chio and Andou to convince Chiharu that Chio really is the femme fatale in question, and naturally their combined idiocy turns the whole process into a comedy of errors. It's a simple and easy play on the absurdity of Chio and Andou's initial encounter, and it works reasonably well. With Manana's late arrival thrown in for good measure, there's enough going on here to make this a worthwhile storyline.
After those more elaborate routines, the story of Andou trying to feed a cat feels like an amusing little bonus segment, which is appropriate since that's exactly what it is. Even the art and animation are simpler here, giving it the look and feel of a comedic short that would normally be tossed onto a Blu-Ray release as an afterthought. Disposable though it may be, there's a decent amount of entertainment packed into this epilogue. Chio's School Road displays good comedic timing as Andou tries to protect the cat from tree branches and bicycles, and that timing helps to enhance the moments of slapstick humor. I'm not sure Andou's a strong enough character to carry a proper storyline on his own, but the jokes here are simple enough that they'd work with just about any member of the show's cast.
Where the previous week felt like a step back, Chio's School Road is able to lurch forward again with this episode. It's not that this week's segments are significantly more inspired than their predecessors; this series has always kept its setups relatively simple. Instead, the difference lies in the presentation, and this time around the show just seems to have a better grasp of the basics. Characters' personalities are used more effectively, and the script does a smoother job of escalating each situation far enough to be funny. The up-and-down nature of Chio's School Road leaves me unsure of whether or not it will be able to build on this success next week, but for now I'm willing to take this modest upswing and call it a win.
Chio's School Road is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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