Quintessential Quintuplets ∬
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 6 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (TV 2) ?
escalated resolved quickly!
I really don't want to harp on the pacing of this season. I fully recognize that just repeating the same criticisms over and over makes for boring reading, and I imagine most manga readers aren't all that interested in stewing over material for too long and thus aren't as bothered by it. But at the same time the sheer amount of ground “Last Exam” covers is both impressive in how much it fits into 22-odd minutes and ultimately detrimental to the stories it tells in that time.
Because there are some genuinely interesting arcs in this episode. For one, we finally get a moment with Yotsuba that feels totally hers, and it's a remarkably sweet one. Turns out her gag as being the dumbest Quint isn't just for laughs – her failing the makeup exam at their previous school was what led to her transferring to Futaro's, and her sisters followed in solidarity. It's yet another affirmation of their bond as family, but Yotsuba clearly feels guilty about it, thinking of herself as a burden holding the others back. That's infinitely more characterization than she's gotten for this entire show, and it did a lot to endear me to her. She may be a dumbass, but she's a dumbass with depth now, and the moment Futaro shows her how she can help teach the others is at least a little moving.
On the topic of teaching others, Itsuki gets her own bit of focus throughout the episode. Learning that she visits their mother's grave every month is both a somber reminder of the sisters' devotion to each other, and an interesting look into why Itsuki in particular wants to be a teacher. The sudden meeting with one of their mother's former students is a little clumsy, but it was nice to see one of the sisters trying to learn more about who their mom was outside of, well, being their mom. Plus there's a lot of emotionally-loaded ideas at play, from Itsuki wanting to follow in her mother's footsteps to the rather funny resemblance her teaching style shares with Futaro's. I know this is a harem series so Itsuki will inevitably end up falling for the guy too, but honestly I'd be down for her just developing an admiration for his awkwardly earnest teaching style and inspiring her to improve. Quints isn't always one for emotional complexity, but there's room for something genuinely sentimental in all of this.
Unfortunately both those stories have to come crammed in between the other girls more or less spinning their wheels. Nino is barely a factor outside of a few reminders that yes, she's still in denial about falling for Futaro, but both Miku and Ichika take up a lot of time just reiterating where they're at as characters. Ichika insists she'll step aside and let her sisters have at him, but keeps getting closer to him and waxing romantic in her head. Miku works to make valentines chocolate, learns how to get better from Nino, then decides she'll get the best score on the exams before confessing her feelings. Oh right, the exams they made a bet on last episode also happen this episode, almost entirely off-screen, and are resolved successfully in all of 90 seconds, just in time for a weirdly atonal final moment where Futaro leaves the celebration to bring Nino to join them.
That's a ton to fit into one episode, even skipping the OP and ED like this one does, and it robs the resolution of any weight. The actual studying part of Quints has always played second fiddle to the relationship dramedy, but usually it still knew how to build at least the semblance of tension for important milestones. This could easily have been 2 or 3 episodes, giving the various conflicts room to breathe and, more importantly, letting the major character development feel earned and organic. Without that focus I'm left at an impasse on how to feel about this episode. Cramming what feels like a whole volume of story into one episode can work with the right mixture of approach and material, but here it actively detracts from its own dramatic ends.
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