This Art Club Has a Problem!
Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 10 of
This Art Club Has a Problem! ?

There's a definite theme to this week's episode of This Art Club has a Problem: “helpful” people. Very different from people who are actually able to help you; “helpful” types are the kind who think they're doing something for you when they're really just doing it for themselves. The first segment of the episode illustrates this concept very well – after Pres shows Uchimaki and Usami a picture of Moeka and her grandfather, the two remember the embarrassing accolades they got when they saved her and how that backfired spectacularly with Usami's homeroom teacher deciding that she needed to run for student council. Usami had zero interest in it, but like a lot of people, she had a hard time vocalizing her objections, so she stood to get railroaded into it. Uchimaki, despite professed disinterest in helping her, did actually help after he realized that she couldn't stand up for herself to this teacher. Even though it happened earlier in the timeline, it still did a good job showing how much more comfortable he's gotten with her, along with illustrating the difference between “helpful” and helpful – Uchimaki at that point really didn't care that much whether Usami was in the art club, but he saw that she was uncomfortable and unhappy, so he helped her out. It stands in stark contrast to her homeroom teacher pushing her to run for student council to gratify the principal's ego about how amazing his school is. Not that ego didn't come into Uchimaki helping Usami – the interview she gave to the school paper certainly helped, but we could see him wavering toward giving her a hand even before he read it.

The tables get to turn in the second segment, when Usami offers to tutor Uchimaki and Colette after the two of them bomb an exam, which threatens their continued club participation. Again, her own desires are definitely a consideration, but that only takes into account Uchimaki, and even after she gets mad at Colette later on in the episode, she still helps her to study and remain in the club. (Getting to tuck Uchimaki into her own bed for a nap is sort of like frosting on the cake.) Finally, in the third part, Usami's friend Kaori – who bears more than a passing resemblance to Chitoge from Nisekoi – takes center stage in her attempts to prevent Maria from stealing Uchimaki away. (Let's just say that she's no Sam Spade.) This is by far the funniest of the three parts, with Kaori's yo-yo cam, self-narration, and stealth checklist making a fine parody of the hard-boiled genre. Maria's blissful oblivion to the fact that she's being stalked (although not to Kaori's presence) makes it even better, making it even more apparent just how bad Kaori is at this.

Having a single theme unite the three segments makes this episode work quite well, making it feel like a continuous whole even though the plots don't line up in a linear fashion. Surprising revelations that the club president is an honor student and that Yumeko-sensei can be scary help add some spice to things, and the gag of drawing on the guys' faces while they're sleeping is quiet but effective. I do wish it had been carried just a little farther to Pres still having his decorations on when they went back to school – it sure looked like Usami used a permanent marker – but it still works. Maria's first aid technique on Kaori's itty bitty scrape is also a great throwaway moment that really drives home the kind of person she is. We can count on her to be the type who goes bizarrely all-out for a school festival, which is coming up next week. I'm looking forward to what she'll convince Colette to do.

Rating: B-

This Art Club Has a Problem! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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