The Quintessential Quintuplets
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 6 of
The Quintessential Quintuplets ?
With three out of the five quintuplets now showing up for his study sessions, Futaro is starting to feel optimistic about their chances of graduating. Unfortunately, he may not be around to see that happen, as the girls' father has threatened to replace Futaro if even one of them fails the upcoming midterms. To make matters worse, his latest argument with Itsuki reaches new heights of hostility, and dear old dad's ultimatum is just the chance Nino needs to get rid of Futaro once and for all. There's even some potential chaos brewing among the sisters who are actually willing to study, with both Ichika and Miku trying to sort out their newfound romantic feelings. Hey, at least Yotsuba's still just happy to be there.
The newly imposed midterm deadline is a welcome plot development, since it adds fresh urgency to Futaro's mission and upsets the relatively comfortable status quo established at the end of the festival storyline. Instead of taking his time and winning over the remaining holdouts at a steady pace, Futaro is now forced to get both Itsuki and Nino on his side as quickly as possible. It's a make-or-break situation for him, and that increased stress boils over in a believable manner. With Itsuki worried enough to study on her own and Futaro suddenly switching into panic mode, it makes sense that their already combative chemistry would lead to a more serious falling-out. The writing does a reasonable job of leading the two of them to unintentional poke at one another's sore spots, which takes them a step beyond their usual harmless bickering. As Ichika points out later in the episode, the Futaro and Itsuki are similar enough in their stubbornness that it'll take some work to heal this rift. That conflict looks like it'll sit at the heart of this latest storyline, with Nino returning to her original role as the designated agent of chaos. A lot will depend on whether she decides to help or hinder Futaro's efforts, at least until he finally admits to the other girls that his job is on the line.
Even as this new conflict gathers steam, the series finds time to follow up on some key developments from last week, particularly the foreshadowing of romantic rivalry between Ichika and Miku. The situation picks up where it left off with Ichika seemingly content to play the less-than-subtle matchmaker for Miku, but trouble is clearly brewing. Ichika's conversation with Futaro about the Itsuki dilemma is an effective reversal of their usual dynamic, with Futaro being the one to throw Ichika off-balance for once. It's not a huge deal in the moment, but it opens the door for some emotional turmoil to come rolling out of this episode's final scene. It requires a small leap of logic to accept that Futaro just so happens to get assigned to Miku's room instead of sleeping on the couch and Miku just so happens to sleepwalk back to her own room after starting out in Ichika's bed, but such is the nature of romantic comedies. A little narrative hand-waving can be forgiven as long as it yields compelling results.
If you're worried that all this impending drama will upstage the show's humor, have no fear; this episode leaves plenty of room for jokes in between the more emotional stuff. If anything, this feels like a return to form after the relatively mild comedy of the festival arc, with the series getting back to the more elaborate setups and payoffs seen in the opening three episodes. I particularly love the ornately decorated board that Futaro pulls out of thin air for his “top three” routine, especially because it's a physical prop and not just an imaginary graphic added in for the audience's benefit. The idea that Futaro would put time and effort into making such a frivolous and specific item creates a fun contrast with his no-frills mentality, and he uses it to good effect by completely derailing the girls' attempts at making him reveal his romantic preferences. The characters in general all seem to be finding their comedic grooves, and as the dynamics between them become more established, they're able to play off of one another with increased success. Ichika, Miku, and Yotsuba make for a well-balanced trio at the study table as they test the limits of Futaro's patience, and Nino's ability to waver between harmless and nefarious remains as entertaining as ever. The series is moving towards a point where it can draw humor out of any combination of characters, instead of just relying on Futaro's exasperated reactions to the quintuplets.
While it may not do much to stray from the basic genre formula, this episode does an impressive job of coloring inside the lines. The comedy is consistently strong, the narrative manages to carry previous developments forward into a new storyline, and most of the characters' actions are believable in light of their personalities. Sure, the animation's nothing to write home about, and I'd like to see this story do more to incorporate the themes of the series, but I'm having enough fun that those issues can be easily overlooked. The Quintessential Quintuplets is in a good place right now, and it shouldn't have too much trouble carrying that positive momentum into next week.
The Quintessential Quintuplets is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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