Quintessential Quintuplets ∬
Episodes 1-3

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (TV 2) ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (TV 2) ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ (TV 2) ?

You know, of all the episode reviews I've covered I think this particular assignment is going to be the most intimidating. Not necessarily because of the material – all things considered, a harem romcom isn't likely to invite the kind of thorny topics that can make covering shows a tightrope act. It's more that, while I do enjoy Quints quite a bit, it's never been a property I loved nearly as much as the hardcore fans. And there are a lot of fans with a lot of strong emotions tied to this series and how it ended (for the record: I'm pretty unspoiled on anything not covered in the anime, so folks being considerate with marking spoilers is appreciated) who are no doubt going to have strong reactions to my takes. But then again, most of them are probably Miku stans, so I feel comfortable ignoring their opinions.

Still though, I do enjoy Quints, and this new season has done a solid job of reminding me why that is. After the opening episode got the audience reacquainted with our titular quintuplets, Season 2's been diving straight into Futaro's childhood encounter with his mystery girl, as well as giving us a better look into the complicated family drama that informs our quintet of sisters. The former is likely to faze in and out of the story as necessary, and honestly I have little hope it'll be resolved this season, but already things are at least going differently from how I expected.

When “Rena” arrives suddenly before Futaro, it's obvious it's one of the sisters in disguise, and the weighing question is meant to be which of them it is. Yet by the end of their encounter it seems like that might not be the case. “Rena” says he'll never see her again, and talks about their connection as if it's something holding him back, and that holds a lot of potential. Personally, I'd be way more interested if the series were to drop the whole “fated from childhood” idea and focus on just developing our lead's relationships in the here-and-now. His first meeting with “Rena” changing him for the better or inspiring him works well for character backstory, but turning your lead's eventual love story into a foregone conclusion is way less interesting than letting it inform his actions as he grows. Granted, Quints would be far from the first series to rely on that cliché for pathos, but I'd much prefer the series follow its own advice and let go of the past.

Speaking of, the lion's share of this “Seven Goodbyes” arc has so far been focused on Nino, certified Best Girl, and that's largely been to its benefit. One of the most refreshing things about Nino's material in S1 was that she didn't miraculously fall in love with Futaro after he did one (1) nice thing for her, and has instead only begrudgingly started to tolerate his presence. It's way more rewarding to see this relationship shift over time rather than turning on a dime, as evidenced by how delightful Futaro's awkward attempts to bond with her have been. It turns out that Nino isn't just protective of her family, but also insecure about how they've all started to change following their mother's passing – and Futaro made for an easy target for that frustration. That's a really solid, relatively complex character conflict, and not one easily solved by kind words or romcom hijinks. There is still the sitcom nonsense of her and “Kintaro”, but frankly that's just dumb enough to work, and it's pretty cute to see Nino actually happy to be around somebody for a hot minute. I'm not sure how this all resolves, but it's also nice that, going by the end of episode 3, it'll also involve Miku. One of Quints' innate strengths is that all of its harem options have pre-existing relationships, so it's a good move to not just make this the Futaro Show.

Yotsuba, meanwhile, is kind of getting the short end of the stick, which seems par for the course from season 1. It's not that her whole drama with the track team is bad, but it's one of those sitcom stories that could easily be solved by one conversation, and the resolution is very self-evident. It's the kind of conflict you might use for introducing a character, rather than further developing one who's been here since episode 1, and no amount of Nisemonogatari references can really spice it up. That this is all splitting screentime with the more engaging drama with Futaro and Nino just highlights how threadbare it is, and I'm hoping this either gets a more interesting solution than I'm expecting, or at least isn't the only storyline Yotsuba gets this season. The show's managed to sculpt interesting stories for everyone else so far, and it'd be a shame if she ends up the odd one out.

Then again, this season feels like it's moving pretty quickly as-is, so I expect a lot of ground to be covered. I've not read the manga, but general comments I've read suggest the adaptation is covering and cutting a lot of material, and that impression comes through in these episodes too. It's not enough to take away from what works – and the change in studio/director has certainly upped this season's Face Game – but I definitely notice some abrupt scene transitions and awkward pacing already. Maybe that'll even out as the story moves forward, but it's something to keep an eye on.

Otherwise though, this has been a pretty pleasant return for Quints. Romcoms like this are quite often my comfort food, and this season's more than delivered on that front, so here's hoping things stay the course.


Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation Entertainment.

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