This Art Club Has a Problem!
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
This Art Club Has a Problem! ?
Let us all share a moment of silence in memory of the club president's pillow. Poor thing. It tried so hard.
As promised, this week introduces a new character to the cast, and like Usami, I'm not quite sure what to make of her. Maria is a transfer student in Uchimaki's class, the expected beautiful girl who takes all the boys' breath away and makes all the girls want to be her best friend. She's also a total otaku, making her a danger to Usami's peace of mind. But is she a threat to Uchimaki's heart? That's not quite so certain. He certainly isn't dazzled by her beauty, nor does he care about her charming personality – as far as we can tell, he likes her solely because she's into the same kinds of anime and manga. She, on the other hand, is nowhere near as oblivious as Uchimaki in terms of 3D relationships, so she pegs Usami's crush on Uchimaki the minute she sees them together. In fact, she goes a step further – when she asks if they're dating, she seems totally serious. This, along with the casual phone conversation the two of them have at the beginning of the episode and the great scene when Uchimaki casually asks Usami to climb on his shoulders so they can reach a balloon stuck in a tree, speak to the friendship that has grown between them. Where Uchimaki wouldn't even shake Usami's hand at first, now he's willing to hold on to her legs, arguably a more personal form of touching. Even if his feelings aren't romantic he's certainly become more comfortable with her than with anyone else. That's borne out by the fact that he asks Usami before Maria to help him get the balloon. I have the distinct impression that Maria is going to milk this friendship for all the teasing she can, and it should be interesting to see how Usami and Maria get on as the series continues.
Probably the best part of this episode, despite my fixation on the character relationships, is the way that everyone acts their age. The fight that killed the pillow is a great example of adolescent conversational skills, with Usami and Uchimaki snapping and just beating on each other with the pillow as they utterly fail to communicate. Usami is in a perpetual state of fluster while Uchimaki dwells in oblivion, and Maria is that slightly-more-perceptive girl who gets on everyone's nerves, tempered with a sense of the melodramatic. She bursts out with lines that could be light novel titles or ripped from bad fanfiction; there's a great scene where she lays one on the kid whose balloon they've just rescued, and he's so flummoxed that he lets it go again. However, the real hero here is the clerk at the anime store. She's present in the background of the entire scene, and at first it looks like she's just standing there as part of the furnishings. If you look closely, however, you'll see her tense up and begin to crack a little. Her one line, “Please go home,” makes the scene.
Artistically, this episode feels a little mixed. The scene of Usami awkwardly climbing onto Uchimaki's shoulders is really well done, and the little easter eggs in the anime store are fun to look for (pausing may be necessary to catch some of them), but the walking looks a little off, especially one scene of Usami and Uchimaki strolling down the hall. There are some nice moments, like when you realize that Maria is deliberately wearing a slip just a bit too long for her uniform skirt so that it looks like she has lace on the hem, while others fall flat, such as the whole deal with the snapping yo-yo string.
So despite Maria's entrance, it could be said that the real stars of This Art Club has a Problem this week are the ill-fated pillow and the nameless clerk. Since it looks like things will be contentious among the art club members next week, I hope the club president has the good sense to hide his new (French) pillow. I'd hate for him to lose another fluffy wonder.
This Art Club Has a Problem! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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