by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Otaku Elf ?
Community score: 4.2
Extremely invested though I am in the part of Otaku Elf that hones in on the relationship between Elda and Koito, there is indeed an entire town filled with a supporting cast surrounding them. This week's episode sees fit to focus on a few of those ancillary characters. It creates something of a different feeling to those more dense, emotionally satisfying episodes of the show we've gotten the past few weeks. Though this is still Otaku Elf through it all, and thus it's still able to wind back to some levels of sentimentality alongside that strong character drama writing that hooked us way back at the beginning of its run.
The first storyline of the episode focusing on Koyuzu is one that feels overdue, as well. She's Koito's sister, she's been around since the beginning, so it would make sense for her to have more presence than she's actually gotten. I understand that Otaku Elf is mostly dedicated to that Elda/Koito relationship, but Koito would be served well by letting her interact with her family more than passing references to her curiously continuously absent grandfather. As well, this episode seems predicated on being at least a little aware of how shortchanged Koyuzu has been so far, as the little sister-in-story is worried she's not getting to spend enough time with Koito lately.
The initial incitement definitely seems to result in a bit more faffing about than we've seen from Otaku Elf lately, particularly since so much of it is predicated on the idea of playing games. There's still plenty of time for the show's trademark edutainment indulgences, and detailing Edo play and pastimes like kite flying, big sister dolls, and bubble blowing fulfill much of that cultural context I so enjoy from these parts of the show. It's also interesting to spot the continuing themes through a lot of the information we've gotten, particularly the role of the shogunate and their regular outlawing of trends that became too popular. Still dialed into that part of her past as she is, you can almost understand how Elda arrived at her current shut-in, paranoid lifestyle, happy to be able to stay in and play as many video games as she wants without worrying about getting in trouble for having too much fun while out and about.
Of course, being Otaku Elf, this little story is happy to roundhouse kick me right in my emotions by the end. It's a deliciously sweet payoff to Koyuzu's distress over Koito not having time to spend with her at the beginning of the episode, and I appreciate that the result is simply letting us bask in some sweet scenes of the characters enjoying that all-important companionship with each other. Koyuzu, as they say in the show, is a good girl, and as someone who's a sucker for sweet sibling stories, her moment with Koito at the end of this story is the sort of thing that'll get me misty-eyed every time.
Things understandably trend a bit goofier for the follow-up storyline of the episode. Elda's trials and tribulations through the world of toy collecting are back, something I'm happy to keep relating to. It is funny to also have Elda explain that even in the Edo period people were happily anticipating deliveries of goods and foods like some historical UberEats. The more things change. The main point of this exercise, it turns out, is to prompt Elda to actually venture out into town while it's populated during the daytime for once, letting us really take in how reverent the people here are for their shut-in shrine goddess.
It's a funny idea, "What if God were real and you could root for her to win prizes in a stamp rally?" The first episode already succinctly sold the way Elda's status as an unwavering constant was a reassurance for the people, so in this case it's just pleasing to see it reinforced. Apart from the extras admiring her from afar, the tone is roundly represented by Kado, the monjya restaurant girl, and Akane, the medical specialist who turns out to be a sloppy day-drunk, much to my delight. That's alongside the implication that Kado and Akane have some sort of messy on-again off-again relationship, which is objectively the best character dynamic. They're really running this plot while Elda and Koito just kind of list their way through this one's nominal stamp-rally story, and it does a solid job of showing how far even the flakiest denizens of this town will go to do right by their Takamimi-sama. And as someone who was once overjoyed to score a gold-chromed Gundam Barbatos as a lucky draw prize, you know I was right there cheering with everyone else as Elda got to pull her golden frog tank, orchestrated as the whole thing was.
It's a sweet enough episode, and I'm happy to see it show a somewhat different side of Otaku Elf than we've glimpsed in a while. That said, the presentation and animation on this one aren't quite up to the standards of the swish vibes we were basking in last week, as there are noticeably more shortcuts plus some stiffness to the animation on this one. It can absolutely still throw a scene or two when it wants to, like the sweet sunset-drenched sequence of the characters blowing bubbles on the shrine grounds. And they at least cut loose on the animation for Koito rolling for Elda's prize. The show, like Elda and the people supporting her, still feels like it's trying its best, and like Koyuzu or the townspeople, I'm still happy to have this little time to spend with them each week.
Otaku Elf is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
Chris is keeping busy keeping up with the new anime season and is excited to have you along. You can also find him writing about other stuff over on his blog, as well as spamming fanart retweets on his Twitter, for however much longer that lasts.
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