The Quintessential Quintuplets
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 3 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ?
Futaro may have made some progress in winning Miku over, but his battle is far from finished. Nino is still determined to get rid of him by any means necessary, and she uses her knowledge of her sisters' quirks to turn the latest tutoring session into a ghost town. This act of sabotage doesn't go over well with Miku, who ends up fighting with Nino through the tried-and-true format of a cooking contest. After abandoning the failed study group, Futaro returns to pick up his flashcards, but he inadvertently walks in on Nino at an awkward moment. The fallout from this incident causes an argument between the sisters, and while Futaro does his best to keep the peace, he can't do much to help his own case.
The Quintessential Quintuplets has cast Nino as the leading voice of opposition to Futaro's presence, and this episode gives her a chance to settle into that role. Her familiarity with the other girls turns out to be an effective weapon; while Futaro has to make blind guesses about what will motivate the group, Nino knows exactly what to say in order to get her sisters out of the apartment. At this point in the story, there's not much Futaro can do except watch helplessly as his study session descends into chaos. Watching him struggle in vain is pretty entertaining, and the antagonistic chemistry between Nino and Miku is also reasonably strong. While the cooking battle itself is nothing new by genre standards, the two sisters do a fine job of winding each other up along the way. Miku's presence also ensures that this doesn't just become “the Nino episode,” which is a welcome sign that the way the quintuplets interact with one another will be just as important as the way they interact with Futaro.
Where the previous two episodes had trouble finding plausible excuses to add some fanservice to the equation, this latest effort is more successful. The towel scene leans heavily on the old cliché of the girl not realizing the guy's in the room, but at least it makes more sense than just tossing superfluous cleavage into an ordinary situation. While it may not be the most original fanservice scene in the world, it benefits from competent delivery and pacing. Futaro's relative lack of nosebleed-inducing panic continues to work in the show's favor, as this allows the scene to keep moving along without getting bogged down by too many frantic inner monologues. The “Futaro on trial” sequence that follows is arguably the episode's weakest moment, as it aims for humor but comes up short. The issue is that the jokes are a little too obvious, especially by the show's own standards. The series has generally been able to go a step beyond the basic genre formula with its comedy, but that doesn't really happen this time. The back-and-forth dialogue of the trial lacks the extra spark of creativity it needs to make the jump from obligatory plot point to memorable entertainment.
Thankfully, it doesn't take long for The Quintessential Quintuplets to regain its usual form. Futaro's conversation with Nino starts out like a by-the-book moment of reconciliation, but this is just the setup for something more surprising. To the show's credit, it does a good job of selling the fake-out; Futaro's attempt at relating to Nino feels convincingly earnest, even when you factor in his ulterior motive of getting her to stop sabotaging his tutoring job. Then, just as it looks like this will be the moment where Nino finally decides Futaro's a decent guy, it all goes delightfully wrong. She does recognize that she still wants all of the quintuplets to get along, but this only reinforces her desire to get rid of Futaro. Instead of winning over his biggest opponent, Futaro has somehow managed to give her renewed motivation. To add insult to injury, Miku shows up to offer Nino the excuse she needs to come back inside, which implies that everything would have worked out fine even if Futaro had gone home without talking to Nino. It's a delightful little twist on the usual harem formula of the protagonist winning over each successive girl by telling her how to solve her own problems, and it ensures that Nino will remain a comedic thorn in Futaro's side for the time being.
In terms of entertainment value, this episode is a little uneven. It gets off to a decent start, falters in the middle, then recovers well enough to finish on a high note. In the long term, there are a couple of promising signs here. While the series still has work to do in terms of integrating its fanservice into the story, it's at least getting better at creating suggestive moments instead of randomly throwing skin at the screen. The ending scene also shows that The Quintessential Quintuplets is capable of upending the audience's expectations with humorous results, which adds another weapon to its comedic arsenal. As long as the series keeps taking steps in the right direction, an occasional weak scene is easy enough to forgive.
The Quintessential Quintuplets is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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