The Quintessential Quintuplets
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Quintessential Quintuplets ?
If you thought things between Futaro and the quintuplets would calm down once they rejoined the class trip, boy were you wrong. Yotsuba helps Futaro get the test of courage off to a suitably spooky start, but things go awry when they accidentally scare Itsuki and Nino off the right trail. Futaro runs off after them, but the blonde wig from his costume leads Nino to assume he's the bad-boy relative from the old photo. Things get even more complicated when Nino invites “Kintaro” to the big dance, which means Futaro now has to choose between three of the quintuplets to dance with as either himself or his blonde alter ego. Worried that all of the girls are starting to hate him, Futaro asks Ichika for advice. This seems like a good idea until Ichika loses her composure over the issue of the dance and the two of them get locked in a shed together.
As we saw last week, The Quintessential Quintuplets isn't shy about leaning on rom-com tropes, and in this episode we get some classic examples of characters getting split into convenient groups in the woods, along with a mistaken identity crisis. The various pairings facilitate a few important conversations, most notably the ongoing debate of whether Miku or Ichika should dance with Futaro. We also revisit the question of whether or not Yotsuba is harboring a crush of her own, though it remains difficult to say for certain if her motivations are full-on romantic in nature. These conversations are more about preserving the momentum of their respective plot threads than resolving them, so for now the questions outnumber the answers.
Nino's moment of mistaken identity is dependent on some generous leaps of narrative logic, but it's a jump worth taking to facilitate the creation of “Kintaro,” Futaro's nonexistent relative. The interactions between Nino and a temporarily blonde Futaro are funny on multiple levels and reveal some interesting things about both characters. Futaro's attempts at faking a bad-boy personality are hilariously bad, to the point where even he's shocked that Nino falls for the act. When you layer that on top of a steadily growing sense that Futaro's just digging his own grave, it all adds up to a wonderful little comedy sketch. There's even some substance behind the entertainment, as Nino reveals a side of her personality that we've only seen brief glimpses of before, and Futaro in turn is forced to reconsider his opinion of her. Despite its reliance on staggering levels of idiocy from both characters, this sequence is arguably the highlight of the episode.
The genesis of Kintaro also adds a new dimension to the big dance, as if that conflict wasn't already rife with potential drama. Not only do we now have three potential dance partners for Futaro, we also have two identities for him to juggle. From a comedic standpoint, it's fun to watch our hapless protagonist twist in the wind as the gravity of the situation begins to dawn on him, and Futaro will likely get himself even deeper into the hole before he starts to find his way out. At the same time, the dance is looking more and more like it'll be the show's dramatic focal point for the remainder of the season. Regardless of whether or not the legend is true, Futaro's actions are likely to have a major impact on his relationship with the quintuplets, and his choice of a dance partner may be the closest we get to a revelation of who the mystery bride really is.
With so many emotional timebombs ticking away, it's no wonder Futaro seems so desperate for help. That leads him straight to Ichika, who has established herself as both an advisor and a mediator in previous conflicts. The problem, of course, is that she's not exactly in a position to be impartial at the moment, and the conversation they have while setting up for the campfire turns out to be a significant turning point for both characters. In Futaro's case, we see a shift in motivations, from merely keeping the peace for the sake of his job to genuinely wanting to improve himself as a person. He's still not great at the whole empathy thing, but the gesture of handing his coat to Ichika suggests that he's really trying. As for Ichika, while we as the audience have been seeing the cracks in her “big sister” armor for a while now, this is the furthest she's ever let that mask slip in front of Futaro (at least while he's been awake to see it). I'm really curious to see what the two of them end up talking about while stuck in the shed next week, and I have a feeling it'll mark a significant and permanent change in the nature of their relationship.
This should no longer be a surprise at this point in the season, but The Quintessential Quintuplets continues to play the genre game about as well as it can without breaking the mold. This is a well-executed episode on multiple fronts, moving the story along at a good pace while providing plenty of entertainment and a bit of character development along the way. The Kintaro situation requires some suspension of disbelief and there's nothing particularly original going on here, but I'm having a good time anyway. The school trip storyline now has plenty of momentum to carry into the last few weeks of the season, and how it'll wrap up is still anyone's guess.
The Quintessential Quintuplets is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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