Quintessential Quintuplets ∬
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 8 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (TV 2) ?
If there's one gag the Quints anime really, really needed to drop a long time ago, it's Futaro not being able to tell the girls apart. First and foremost, it's a joke that absolutely does not survive the move to animation. Even when the sisters aren't being drawn with distinct hair colors and styles, it's immediately obvious to the audience because we can presumably differentiate between voices, making Futaro's failure annoying rather than endearing. For two, it's just a really tired gag at this point, and I was already not looking forward to an entire storyline constructed around it. Needless to say, the segments of “Scrambled Eggs” focusing on the whole Fake Itsuki conflict got really dull really quickly.
Thankfully there's more to this episode than just extended hijinks. For one, Ichika finally decides to do something! She doesn't get around to it this episode (unless that's her glomping Futaro in the closing seconds of this episode), but after a full season of self-flagellating over her feelings for him the girl's at last choosing to take action. And the scene where that happens is a pretty nice one, giving Yotsuba the chance to shine as a loving and attentive sister, as she correctly diagnoses her older sibling's reasons for self-denial. It again ties back to their mother's death, when Ichika decided she needed to be the responsible one and take up their mother's place as a self-sacrificing provider. But they've all grown past that now, and it's time at last for Ichika to start thinking of herself as much as she does her sisters. In this particular instant that means cuckolding Nino – if she can manage it.
Nino, meanwhile, is back to proving why she's been Best Girl this whole show. I don't say that lightly either: in a story that's largely propelled itself by the cast either denying or misunderstanding their own emotions, she's the only person with the wherewithal and guts to go after who and what she wants with full force. You've got to respect that determination. But what really sets her over the edge is something she says to Ichika while asking for relationship advice:
“I mean, this is my love. What's the point if it doesn't make me happy?”
I damn near seal clapped in front of my TV after hearing that. So, so so many romances in fiction get caught up in the drama of pining and unrequited love that they lose sight of the fact that being in love can feel amazing. When someone makes your day better just by their presence, or when you feel inspired to do something for them just because, it's the headiest high in the world. It's why I get so tired of seeing people call it “winning” when one harem member shacks up with their crush – it turns love into a competition that you can lose, and that's just anathema to anything I've ever felt. Nino's right: if love is only ever making you miserable and conflicted, you're doing something wrong.
And the show seems to agree, as even the most stagnant sister has finally started taking baby steps forward. After a season and a half of quietly nursing her crush, Miku finds the courage to...well not confess, but to at least start pursuing a closer relationship to Futaro without worrying about labels. Whatever their relationship may end up being, it's at least getting a start. That's an odd thing to say 2/3 of the way through a second season, but for now I'm just thankful that Quints is capitalizing on the momentum it nearly squandered last week. I also like that Itsuki finds out and immediately freaks over Miku's crush. I know that harem logic dictates Sister #5 will eventually fall for him too, but for now I'll comfort myself by daydreaming about her being the ultimate wingwoman.
Then there's that final scene, with an unidentified sister tackling Futaro and inadvertently making him ring that superstitious marriage bell. I'll admit, I'm not a fan of this kind of plot device, as the whole idea of “destined lovers” leaves me bored to tears. Maybe it's just that I'm burned from the phenomenal cowardice We Never Learn displayed with its fireworks of destiny bullshit, but I'd rather a symbolic gesture like this serve as a way for a couple to affirm their feelings for each other, not as a sign of predestination spurring them into it. And maybe that's where Quints is going with this, but I remain skeptical. I suppose we'll see though, as I still have no clue where we go in the last few episodes of this season.
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