This Art Club Has a Problem!
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 5 of
This Art Club Has a Problem! ?

I think a lot of us have been on both sides of what happens in the second half of this week's episode of This Art Club has a Problem. When weak-willed new teacher Yumeko-sensei gets the Art Club stuck with pool cleaning duty, she makes the mistake of leaving them unsupervised. As a result, the group has the brilliant idea of using “easily removed” paint to create a huge mural of a mermaid and a dolphin on the pool floor, only to discover that the paint is oil-based and they'll need gallons of acetone to get it off. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than when I turned my back as a new teacher and found that a high school senior had wrapped his head in masking tape, but it's certainly more harmless than most of my brilliant unsupervised middle school ideas. In any event, the whole thing makes for a really fun segment that deviates from the show's usual format, not even really bothering to make fun of the fact that Uchimaki couldn't stop himself from creating a mermaid waifu. It also shows the nice relationship that the art club members have developed, particularly Usami and Uchimaki, although there's a comfortable sort of little sister tolerance for Colette, especially when the club president “transforms” her into a bird. Sumire Uesaka does some great cooing this episode, making it one of Colette's best on sound alone. Of course, this wonderful camaraderie looks like it will be threatened by the new character being introduced next week, and I admit to some trepidation. Still, there's a good chance that Usami is simply going to blow things out of proportion. Hopefully it will be funny rather than mean-spirited.

The first half of the episode manages to pull off this tone, as an escalating series of ridiculous events begins when Usami and Uchimaki leave Colette alone in the clubroom with the head they were using for a still life (quite loosely in Uchimaki's case). She promptly decides that it's too pale, so she paints over it before thinking about it. Then she hides it in a box and runs away, leaving Yumeko-sensei to find it and think it's a human head. Things go haywire from there, with each person who comes into the room thinking something else completely wrong is going on until we're practically in full-blown Mel Brooks mode. Some of the best scenes come from two people having a conversation about totally different things, but it sounds like they're discussing the same thing. If this is your style of humor, it's done well, especially once the club president gets in on the act.

The real strength of this series as it goes on is in the increasingly firm base of character relationships. While it would be difficult to argue that this is a character-based show (it's pretty clearly slice-of-life comedy), the increasing comfort level that the art club has with each other forms a very solid base for the humor, and as they become friendlier and more used to each other's foibles, the comedy has a more solid basis. The joke is no longer that Uchimaki is going to keep creating new moe girls, it's how Usami will try to get around his issues while “hiding” her crush. We all know that Colette is wacky by now; the humor comes from how Uchimaki and Usami will try to deal with it rather than the wackiness itself, although her unpredictability is still good joke fodder on its own. Yumeko-sensei is still the weakest link, and using her for fanservice doesn't quite sit right, but she's also only been around for two episodes, so it seems too early for everyone to be comfortable with her yet. We'll just have to see how it plays out. In the meantime, we can all take one important lesson away from this episode: leaving people unsupervised when they have access to art supplies is probably never a good idea, although a giant anime mermaid mural does sound like a nice way to class up the local pool...

Rating: B+

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

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