by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 11 of
As Citrus heads toward its apparent finale, this arc's most notable factor has been its surprising degree of levity. There are still a lot of confused teenage emotions flying around and plenty of scheming, to be sure. However, compared to the infamous whirlwind of the show's establishing episodes and the manipulative maelstrom of the Matsuri arc, this Kyoto storyline hews much closer to the standards of typical romcoms. That might even be welcome to some viewers after so much emotional exhaustion, but it does draw a distinct shift in what the audience might have come to expect from Citrus.
The biggest wrench in the gears this week is revealed to be Sara's younger sister Nina, who is determined to sideline Yuzu's pursuit of Mei in favor of her own sibling. The most mysterious element of Nina is just how malicious she is in her machinations. She certainly pursues her goals with passion, but she has yet to reach the heights of outright scheming we got back during the Matsuri storyline. She has yet to come off as genuinely mean to Yuzu in her discouragements, instead projecting elements of the martyr complex she and Sara introduced themselves with. This definitely makes it difficult to dislike her, but the lack of a clear-cut antagonist in this arc means the misunderstood love triangle has to do the heavy lifting all on its own.
This episode does wear its lighter elements well, and it helps that the character animation is at the top of its game this week. This episode is absolutely packed with little character tics like Nina playing with her hair-ribbon in her more mischievous moments, or Sara and Yuzu's little high-five greeting. It only increases the levity surrounding this episode's proceedings, with effective little sketches like the prayer at the shrine or Yuzu hitting the bottle after her botched confession to Mei. It makes the whole episode fun to watch, even if it's somewhat lacking in the big moments we might be expecting. Even the bath scene eschews salacious fanservice in favor of a cutely animated character scene.
All this might come across as a little too light after everything Citrus has put us through up to this point. It does try to ratchet up the tension with its trademark heavy direction and musical cues, but it has yet to reach the highs of previous arcs. The one point where it comes close is during the scene where Yuzu gets caught hiding in Mei's bed. The anime does successfully increase the intensity between the girls and leverages that strong character animation for the sake of dramatic contrast. Ending it on a sudden anti-climax with the type of denial we're used to seeing between these two marks just makes it another in the list of conflicts that have arisen between the two, though. Other than that, the drama seems artificially extended by Yuzu fumbling her confession, and her usual melodramatics don't gel with the tamer-than-usual issues of the week. That's to say nothing of how borderline unbelievable it is that she takes so long to catch onto the misunderstanding of the love triangle; even Sara figures it out before Yuzu.
Perhaps another reason this episode feels light is that it's still dancing around the exact nature of the issues between Mei and Yuzu, despite establishing them thoroughly in the previous episode. Mei's just back to being her old inscrutable self again. It's important for this plotline, and she segues back into it believably enough, but when I realized that we'd barely heard her speak in this episode despite all the drama unfolding with her as a focal point, it does seem like a missed opportunity to expound on the issues that will undoubtedly be the major focus of next week's resolution. We're still just barely scratching the surface of her codependency issues, as evidenced by her request for Sara to ‘need’ her after she confesses. At least that scene is otherwise appreciable, as I think this is the first instance of an earnest, non-abusive, un-manipulative love confession we've gotten from this show.
Citrus in general seems to be sticking to a more classic playbook heading into its conclusion. The fact that it took the show this long to get to a decently respectful standard romance plotline is amusing on its own. Despite my misgivings in the choice of tone at this point, the breezy pace made this episode fun to watch. It's a good thing that it was entertaining, because while all these interactions and antics are fun, I can't help but feel like the show is just killing too much time until the other shoe drops. Hopefully Citrus can build up a bit more intensity before the cathartic release we'll need in the finale next week.
Citrus is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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