by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Nothing is real and everything is made up, so what has URAHARA been about all this time? In “Fried Shrimp Runaway,” our trio comes to terms with living in a fantasy world for the duration of the anime, with all of the needless fighting they've done and feelings they've had about it. When the threat of the day finally breaks them out of this reverie, it's a letdown that the monster is neither scary nor funny nor surprising. Gorgeous background art improves the episode but can't save it from its own poor animation and tension-free plot.
Apparently the giant parfait in the sky has absorbed the power of the Amatsumara, allowing it to amplify the girls' creative visions and create a fantasy version of Harajuku. Except for Rito, Mari, Kotoko, and the Scoopers, none of the people in this show have been real, not even Sayumin. None of the people who praised them or bought from Park were real, which means the creative validation the girls got from those experiences weren't real either. The girls are crushed to learn they've been living in a fantasy world all this time, and at first Misa doesn't get it. As a Scooper, she doesn't understand why authenticity is so important to these creative types. It's a strategic framing of one of URAHARA's key themes: the struggle for authenticity in art. All three of the girls have worried about their creative originality, and whether art created through copying a trend or an admired artist is still art. To Misa, this entire dispute is meaningless—her entire existence until now has been stealing and enjoying art regardless of the consequences.
But Misa is redeemable, both because she's young and because the girls taught her how to create something by herself, but Ebifry will never be won over to this way of thinking. He transforms into a cartoonish interpretation of a shachihoko that doesn't appear all that threatening, but it's enough to convince the girls to run away from him all across town. Cue a Scooby Doo-like chase sequence where the characters are running in and out of the (admittedly gorgeous) background art in a choppily-animated hurry. It goes on for far too long and there's no suspense at all. Who cares if Ebifry catches up to them? He isn't scary. And unfortunately, the length of what might have been a good throwaway gag deters it from being that funny, either.
For a while, the girls are able to defeat him by envisioning a solution and praying to the parfait. But when push comes to shove, it's Misa who decides to stand up to Ebifry. If there's character development after all this time, it can't all have been fake. (As Rito said of the dream world, “Our feelings were real.”) Misa has gone from pampered Scooper princess to a creative being in her own right. It's a positive (if predictable) development, but I can't get all that excited about her fight with this silly little shrimp.
URAHARA is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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