Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

I know I've made mildly unfavorable comparisons between Locodol and other shows before, but I am pleased to tell you that I have found something that the Nagarekawa Girls do better than their genre fellows: write a song. Now this is not a comment on the song itself, because the episode cuts to the ending theme just as Nana and Yukari are about to sing it. I'm very torn about this fact: on the one hand, it's a great hook for episode eleven, as by the episode's end, you're really curious about this song. On the other hand, it's a really cheap trick since our anticipation has been steadily building as Nanako churns out failure after failure. In any event, it's that last thing that really stands out for me in this particular idol saga – Nanako can't just sit down and write an amazing hit song. In fact, she stresses over it, labors over it, and flat out sucks at it for most of the episode, coming up with some stellar lyrics about her crumby pay, washing windows, and exterminating wasps. (Given Mirai's reaction to the final draft, that may not have gone away.) Clearly the old saw about writing what you know is not cutting it when it comes to Nanako's lyrics...

The reason she's struggling over a new song for the Nagarekawa Girls in the first place is that they have a chance to be a part of another locodol festival, this time for the locodols themselves rather than the mascot characters. This should be a fun event to watch, given the bizarreness and creativity of the Free and Loose Characters field day, and it will be nice to see how our girls compare to the others inhabiting the story's world. Nana is already enthusiastic about it, and there's a feeling that Yukari is mostly excited because Nanako is. Their relationship continues to be one of the more interesting and endearing parts of the show, making up at least in part for the less savory aspects of it, none of which show up this time unless you count the eye-catch. While Yukari's feelings for her fellow Nagarekawa Girl are clearly more than friendly, the show doesn't push it, keeping her from being an aggressive and off-putting stereotype like Shirai in A Certain Scientific Railgun or Alielle in the original El Hazard. Instead there's something a bit sweeter about the way she treats Nanako, even if she occasionally makes vaguely creepy comments about wanting to watch Nana sleep. (Interestingly enough, this is the only time Nanako really seems to notice Yukari's crush.)

I'd like to see the two Uogokoru-kun girls get a bit more development, something that looked like it was going to happen and then fell by the wayside. While we do see that they have specific personalities, their relationships with Nanako and Yukari seem stagnant, which does bring the story down a little. Mirai's aforementioned reaction to Nana's lyrics, however, is dryly wonderful, giving us a clear sense of how she feels without overacting in either animation or voice. Tidbits like this one do help to assuage the feeling that neither she nor Yui are as developed as they could be.

While there isn't a lot of action in this episode, it is nonetheless enjoyable to watch. I have said before that Locodol is the kind of show that slowly grows on you, and this is proving to be very much the case for me. What I at first saw as a blatant rip-off has become charming in its own right, and while this episode doesn't make it stand out as a particularly excellent show, it did make me realize that Locodol has found a place in my affections as a cute story that tries just hard enough to be enjoyable.

Rating: B

Locodol is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rebecca Silverman teaches writing and literature and is the author of the single issue comic book "Red Story."

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