Poco's Udon World
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Poco's Udon World ?
After stepping aside at the beginning of last week's installment, Nakajima Shinobu returns to the spotlight in another heartwarming Poco's Udon World. Rather than expand its central cast, this series has wisely chosen to flesh out the members of its relatively small core group and explore what makes them tick. Even though he appears to have settled into adulthood much more comfortably than Souta, Nakajima certainly has his share of problems—especially on the family front. Instead of serving as a generic best friend for the show's lead, Shinobu has become a fully realized character who just happens to be Souta's childhood friend.
After enlisting Nakajima's help in producing a short film for an upcoming class reunion (which will likely serve as a plot point in the future), Souta and Poco visit Shinobu's childhood home and become caught in the middle of a father/son spat. As it turns out, the elder Nakajima wants his son to take over his practice, and Shinobu's hesitance to do so has created a rift between him and his father. We also learn that when starting college, Shinobu was resistant to the idea of attending medical school and following in his father's footsteps. Although the Nakajimas still have some issues to work through, both father and son understand each other a little better by episode's end, but it's doubtful that either will relent without a fight.
As usual, the show adopts a realistic approach to its characters' problems. The issues Shinobu is dealing with are too complex to be fixed within the course of a single episode and will likely follow him for the rest of his life to some extent. The episode ends with Souta receiving a call from a work colleague, who informs him that there's an emergency that requires his attention. After all the time Souta has spent away from work, I was certain that the call signaled his firing, but it looks like he may be more of an asset to his employer than he thinks. Despite falling back in love with his sleepy hometown, Souta actually does have a place—and a purpose—back in Tokyo.
Shinobu's reasons for not wanting to attend med school or succeed his father are never made entirely clear, but it's possible that he simply didn't appreciate having his future laid out for him. In fact, some of the bitterness he projects toward Souta may stem from a deep-seated envy of the latter's courage to defy his father's wishes. In some ways, Shinobu's issues with his father mirror Souta's—the main difference being that Nakajima ultimately gave in to what his parents expected of him. Interestingly, he doesn't seem that much happier with the way his life turned out.
While Souta and Poco largely take a backseat this week, Nakajima is a compelling enough character to carry his own story. The dynamic between Shinobu and Poco is one of my favorite things about this show, and it's nice to see that the former is starting to warm up to his friend's adopted son. Although Souta can no longer reconcile with his father, this episode suggests that there may be hope for the Nakajimas.
Poco's Udon World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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