This Art Club Has a Problem!
Episode 3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 3 of
This Art Club Has a Problem! ?

Is Uchimaki-kun incredibly dense or is he teasing Usami? It's kind of hard to tell this week, as her friends tease her mercilessly over her crush and decide to infiltrate the art club to see the two of them together. Their brilliant plan? Pretend to be prospective members and practice drawing with Uchimaki and Usami as models. However, complains perky blonde Kaori, if they don't stand close enough together, she can't fit them both on the page! As excuses go, it's really thin, but it does allow Usami to bump shoulders with the object of her affections. He seems not to care at all, nor does he appear to realize the importance of sharing a drink can later – when Kaori gets him the wrong kind of beverage (he can't do carbonation), she offers to trade with him even though she's already taken a sip. Usami's panic over the whole indirect kiss thing seems totally lost on Uchimaki when she snatches Kaori's can away from him – but then he does claim hers in retaliation. Now it really could just be that he's thinking in strictly platonic terms, but the indirect kiss comes up enough in anime and manga that if he's such an otaku, he must be familiar with the trope. When you pair it with other little moments, most notably the redrawn picture from episode one, it looks like he may not be quite as oblivious as he likes her to think.

Of course, I could also be desperately foisting my urge for both a romantic subplot and an ongoing plotline onto this episode. Not that there's anything wrong with the way This Art Club Has a Problem has been going – each of the three segments of this week's episode are cute, lightly funny, and a nice escape from reality. I just tend to like continuity in my fiction, which this has in only the mildest of terms. Colette, who we met briefly last week, is now an official character, which does indicate some sort of plan for an ongoing story, and next week we're apparently going to meet the lady in the bikini from the opening theme, so we are still clearly in setup mode.

All of that aside, this week's first two segments rely heavily on linguistic jokes, which are actually quite funny. In the first part, Colette is looking for her locket, and there are a couple of almost throw-away “rocket” jokes: Colette makes a comment about it not being the flying kind, and later Usami finds a rocket in the Lost and Found. Later, Uchimaki has a crisis when he can't decide what kind of hairstyle to give his latest waifu, and Usami suggests a short bob, pronounced “shouto bob.” Uchimaki doesn't know what she's talking about, so Colette draws him a picture of two guys, Shou and Bob, misinterpreting Usami's English as the Japanese for “Shou and Bob,” “Shou to Bob.” It's definitely the funnier of the puns this week, especially since no one but Usami seems to understand the mistake. None of the storylines within the episode are laugh-out-loud funny, but they are worth a chuckle, which nicely layers over the sweeter aspects of the show, such as Usami giving Uchimaki a magazine on hairstyles that he's genuinely pleased to receive, or the look on his face when Colette finds Usami's hairpin in the Lost and Found – he stares at it just a second too long. Even if I am building castles with no foundations, there's an easiness in their interactions (when she's not freaking out) that's really nice to see and helps to form a solid layer for the comedy to stand on.

I feel like we're going to need another couple of episodes that finish introducing the main cast, before This Art Club Has a Problem really gets going, but even if it doesn't, there's something very pleasant about the show. This episode is no exception – and I'm really hoping that we haven't seen the last of Shou and Bob.

Rating: B-

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

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