Quintessential Quintuplets ∬
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 12 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (TV 2) ?
Well, it's been a tumultuous procession of questionable pacing, reveals both big and small, and a whole lot of mistaken identities, but this second season of Quints is in the books. Usually I'd wonder what kind of conclusion the show would choose to go out on, but with the accompanying announcement of more anime coming in the future, it makes sense that this finale doesn't do much to wrap up anything.
Well, that's not entirely true. We do conclude this little mini-arc spurred by Ichika's attempted romantic sabotage, and it works as a comfy coda to leave off on even if the question of who Futaro will eventually marry is left totally unanswered. And while this arc has definitely been Ichika at her worst, it has honestly made her a lot more interesting as a character than before, so I'm personally thankful for it. I've said before that harem romances can be a great way to explore different forms of love, and it's undeniable that sometimes people will do crummy things in the name of love. Exploring that, even letting a character hit relative rock bottom, can make for a really interesting story, and despite some flaws in overall execution I think that's how her arc comes out by the end of it.
Though it can't actually finish up until Miku at least takes a step forward, which is a problem when she's still so embarrassed that she books it in the opposite direction every time Futaro appears. But in classic sitcom fashion the other sisters all independently conspire to drag Miku kicking and screaming into her own character arc, and the end result is surprisingly charming. Turns out a great way to ingratiate me to the idea of two characters as a couple is to just show them on a date, enjoying each other's company without a ton of drama and contrivances to ostensibly add depth. For once bereft of baggage, Miku and Futaro just have a good time hanging out together in Kyoto, experiencing the sights and history in a way that shows off the endearing aspects of her character while fleshing out a bit of Futaro's at the same time. The scene where he casually mentions his mother is especially important – it's the first time in possibly ever that he's broached the topic of losing her, and one of the rare moments he's let somebody else in. All-an-all the bulk of this episode, while not necessarily a rousing place to end the season, works by being a solid bit of romance first and foremost.
Unfortunately there's still some lingering baggage waiting in the wings, and I'm decidedly not a fan of it. The recurring question of which girl Futaro met as a kid continues to be the least interesting aspect of this story that refuses to develop into a more meaningful plot point or gracefully go away. So I guess it turns out Futaro technically met Yotsuba AND Ichika that day and didn't know it? And at least in Ichika's case she chalks that up to when she fell in love with him? Aside from being a ridiculously contrived coincidence on its own, this kind of retcon threatens to devolve this whole backstory into a farce where 12-year-old Futaro runs into the entire Nakano clan through a series of Scooby-Doo hallway doors.
Second, “we met once and I immediately fell in love” is just about the least engaging kind of love story you can make. I come to romance fiction to see the act of falling in love, the journey where characters learn about each other, develop affection that eventually grows into something stronger, and how their dynamics change along with their feelings. That's where the fertile soil is with which to grow your fruit of love. There's a reason Nisekoi very definitively stated that whatever was inside that damn locket was secondary to how the characters felt in the now, and constantly going back to love being preordained by a childhood play day threatens to cheapen everything this series has been able to do right.
That's a shame because, for as inconsistent as this season's storytelling has been, it's managed to get me genuinely interested in seeing these relationships develop and conclude. I left the first season of Quints adequately entertained, but not particularly attached to anyone besides Nino's grumpy faces. But when this season was at its best, it really did hook me and make this cast feel like relatable, complicated people who I want to follow. My hope is that whatever the future anime installment ends up being, it's able to focus more on those strengths and offer a satisfying conclusion to all this. Speaking of, going by that key image, Dr. Nakano better start saving up for the familial wedding fund. Renting five chapels on the same day is not going to be cheap.
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