by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Endro isn't generally a super-eventful show, so when it does have an episode with a lot going on, it tends to stand out. This is one of those episodes, though it doesn't appear that way at first. Opening in media res with the Hero Party taking shelter from a blizzard, we would seem to be settling into the tent with them for a semi-relaxing time as they wait the storm out—before the actual plot arrives. This episode is surprisingly more detailed than expected from Endro, but the end result might still be less than the sum of all these extra parts.
It's odd how intense and seemingly-serious the adventure seems to get as it goes. Pretty much as soon as the girls are in the tent, the point that they can't fall asleep for danger of death by hypothermia is blatantly brought up, with the threat of demise implicitly hanging around the whole episode. To the show's credit, it never gets grim enough in its presentation to make us worry that our cuddly quartet is in any real danger, but it is a marked escalation from the usual more leisurely issues that get thrown the gang's way. The main issue with this element is how it gets exacerbated in the latter part of the episode, as the team actually does fall asleep and the setting switches gears to their dreams. They all wake up fine by the end of the whole adventure, but I couldn't help but remain vaguely concerned still as this all played out.
But even with the threat of freezing to death hanging over everything, the episode at first seems primed to take it easy as the girls spend time inside their shelter. They end up talking about their dreams in conversations meant to expand on their characters, but it runs into the same issue as usual, when they simply aren't that complex and there isn't much new to tell us about the girls. As always, Mei wants Cartado, Fai wants food, and Yusha wants to be the Hero. There are admittedly a couple curveballs; Mei reveals that after amassing a Cartado collection, she may have designs on a more humorously megalomaniacal scale. It's actually a funny gag, and I wish they'd leaned into this twisted element of Mei more. It would have made her more eccentric and memorable.
And then there's Seira, who turns out to be the central star of this episode. The joke of her dreams being simply ‘grow bigger boobs’ and ‘clean her room’ almost makes you feel sorry for her in their simplicity. The first time it's revealed in her imagination, the delivery comes off a little tired and flat, but when we see her full-fledged fantasy dream, it comes off a bit funnier. The dream sequences once the team does fall asleep have a decent ridiculousness to them that contrasts effectively with the episode's low-key tent conversation. Yusha's cheering crowd has a few funny lines and Mei's vision of a freakish Cartado husband is hilariously twisted. The problem is that the episode ends up simply padding time by repeating these shots and lines verbatim multiple times. Between that and some other reused animation segments, it makes me wonder if the production of this episode came up short somewhere and they had to fill it out in other ways.
Ultimately, the dream-jumping segment in the last half feels like it doesn't work as well as it could; all this setup could have led to something more ambitious than Endro typically tackles. Seira's back-and-forth with the team over the logistics of remaining in their dream worlds becomes more shallow and silly than anything else, especially since they seem to have forgotten the whole thing about waking up in order to stay alive. The final payoff with the dreams combining into a monster is decent anyway, and the ending almost sells me better on Seira as a character. This one gets points for being different, but not everything it tried to do was as strong as it needed to be.
ENDRO! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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