Disappearance of Nagato Yuki chan Episode 7
by Nick Creamer,
This week's Nagato Yuki-chan was like looking at the postcards from someone else's boring vacation. This has always been a slow, sleepy show, but this episode... I guess I'll take “absolutely nothing happened” over last week's persistent barrage of stale gags, but “nothing happened” is still not high praise.
The premise here was that Haruhi had planned for the whole club, Tsuruya and Mikuru included, to go off on a hot springs vacation. Unfortunately, this episode didn't jump directly from “we're going on vacation!” to the group actually being on vacation - instead, this episode focused entirely on the interim scenes that editors would normally color-code with big red strike-throughs. We got “Nagato and the gang waiting at the train station,” “Nagato and the gang deciding who sits with who on the train,” “Nagato and the gang sitting on the train,” “Nagato and the gang looking at souvenirs while they wait to get picked up by a car,” etcetera.
None of these scenes really ended up doing anything for the characters, and there weren't even many attempted jokes. Early on, there was a scene where Asakura pulled Haruhi aside to worry about Nagato and Kyon running into comic misunderstandings while on vacation. This was played as a “but that's something that only happens in manga!” gag and ended with “we'll have to spy on them” mundanity, but the only thing this scene really accomplished was making Asakura seem like even more of an archetypal meddling-parent type character, instead of someone who'd actually learned from the events in the valentine arc. Meaning for the sake of a very stale gag and an even more stale future contrivance, the show actually weakened its existing material.
Later scenes weren't so actively self-destructive, but they didn't replace that with anything interesting. There were a number of scenes predicated on Nagato making silly faces we've already seen while eating food, and other scenes that simply conveyed the characters accomplishing small tasks of transport - putting their bags in storage at the train station, puttering around and looking at souvenirs, etc. Again, most of this episode felt like material that should have been left on the cutting room floor - like the viewer was being forced to tag along for someone else's trip to the mall.
There were a couple moments I chuckled at, though. At one point, Haruhi grumbled about the fact that they were going to have to take a car to get to the hot springs, even though she herself had written the trip guide. That worked because it wasn't overplayed, and a similar moment later when an attempted joke by Kyon was ignored by the others worked for the same reason. There was also a nice moment when Mikuru urged Nagato to buy a matchmaking charm, which demonstrated some actual camaraderie and emotion. But most of this episode simply didn't do anything - it was emotionally flat, contributed nothing to the characters, and offered no immediate rewards. If there's anything I learned from this episode, it's that travel time on vacations should really be spent sleeping. Sometimes it really is about the destination, not the journey.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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