Eromanga Sensei Episode 6
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Eromanga Sensei ?
This arc continues to mark a fall for Eromanga Sensei. Megumi's entrance did indeed bode poorly for the show, but perhaps even more surprisingly, she's the one gets the worst of the abuse this episode has to offer. If episode 6 is setting up the direction of this series for the foreseeable future, that's a bad sign for its overall tone.
Megumi's declaration of getting into the wild world of light novels plays out this week, as she's beset by Tomoe with recommendations for books in one of only a couple bright spots in this episode. Unfortunately, things go downhill quickly from there, when Megumi ends up at the Izumi family's house to use her newfound interest in light novels to finally engage a friendship with Sagiri.
Eromanga Sensei exists in service of a fetish, so it's always had the underlying elements of a sex comedy, even though that was mostly limited to uncomfortable tension between the siblings and some benign nudity gags from Elf Yamada. So when this episode suddenly shifts into Megumi getting bound up for Sagiri's amusement and subsequently harassed by the siblings, it's a jarring segment. This bit is clearly supposed to be funny, and it might work for some people, but seeing this middle-school girl get treated this way will be just plain uncomfortable for most.
There isn't much humor to mine from the scene. Megumi has never been the show's best character, but she's never deserved this treatment either. She's tied up, leered at by Sagiri while she draws her, then summarily insulted by Masamune over her uncouth habits. Masamune's attempts to justify this as karmic don't seem to matter when we're reeling from seeing her reduced to tears by this onslaught of harassment. There's really no inherent humor to this scene, it just seems cruel and exploitative. I guess it's supposed to contrast with the 'heartwarming' section afterward, where Sagiri actually connects with Megumi, but it just makes the tonal roller coaster more inexplicable instead.
Rather than dwelling on its outrageous exploits, this episode of Eromanga Sensei moves on to its second section, which concerns Masamune trying to get his new story published in time. It does expand on the arrangement the siblings apparently have with their aunt, which casts Masamune's writing as something he was simply allowed to do because of its success. This somewhat undermines the idea that it was his only outlet to provide for himself and his sister after their parents' deaths, and it only raises further questions when Sagiri offers to cover for the lost revenue by drawing lewd commissions. This is something I've wondered about since the series began, but shouldn't Sagiri have been getting paid for her novel illustration work as Eromanga Sensei? Where is that money? Was she contributing any of it to the rent and other expenses for her and Masamune, since he didn't know her identity beforehand? It's a technicality, but the situation calls attention to it now, so I really can't help but wonder.
The episode's milieu of discomfort and meandering is thankfully interrupted by Elf, who provides the brightest spot of the week. Her not-a-date with Masamune is a light, amusing segment, punctuated by an entertaining analysis of Elf's character. You have to love the way a savvy otaku author suddenly realizes she's bumbling into the stock tsundere tropes, and even if all this is mostly there to sell Elf falling into Masamune's harem, it's still a solidly executed scene that sticks out even more in such an otherwise dismal episode.
After that one uplifting segment, it's back over to the publisher for the unexpectedly absurd solution to Masamune's troubles: a light-novel tournament arc! All of this is in service of setting up Masamune and Elf's introduction to another author character, Muramasa Senju, who's something of a superstar in their world and another cute girl, of course. Exactly how this novel-battle storyline will play out between them is left for the next episode, which is when we'll presumably get more insight into Muramasa's character, since there's not much to her for now.
For some reason, everyone's so darned unpleasant in this episode. Whether it's Tomoe chewing out Megumi in the bookstore, the siblings subsequently harassing her, or Masamune's publisher making him jump through tons of hoops simply to keep working, there's an ongoing air of difficulty and selfishness to all the characters' actions. Everyone seems presented to make things as difficult or uncomfortable as possible, and it's not a good look for Eromanga Sensei as a series. I acknowledge that it's always carried an intent to be an outrageous sexy comedy to some extent, but it was generally at its best when it chose to focus on mining humor from light novel creation.
I can't stress how much the Megumi segment at the beginning really drags this one down; it's too distressing to be part of a breezy comedy. This tone hangs over the rest of the episode, and the result is a mean and unfunny time with only a couple moments of relief. It's too bad that so much of this episode also sets up the next plotline, because it would otherwise be advised as totally skippable.
Eromanga Sensei is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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