by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Just last week, I was complaining that while Mari, Kotoko, and Misa-chan are fairly fleshed out as characters, it's Rito who I still don't understand yet. “Cotton Heart” was absolutely Rito's episode, giving the generic protagonist more of a motive and backstory. It's an episode that added a lot of depth to Rito as an artist, underlining both the importance and joy of creation. On the other hand, it lost or forgot a number of plot threads along the way. URAHARA makes a few missteps as a comprehensible narrative, but it's easy to forgive the show given its gorgeous backdrop of color and design.
Rito is in a pensive mood because she's questioning her motives as an artist. As Mari and Kotoko chatter happily about their respective blogs, Rito flashes back to her art school days (apparently this happened in the past, though I could have sworn these girls were all still high school students on spring break when the Scoopers invaded). In the flashback, Rito is overhearing a girl named Midori proudly discuss how she draws what's popular instead of what she wants to draw. But it's not so simple as Midori being bad for this approach and Rito being good for marching to the beat of her own drum—and I'm thankful that URAHARA didn't dumb down an internal debate that so many creators wrestle with. Mari and Kotoko, who are clearly good people, also base their blog content around what's popular in order to obtain new fans like Midori does. This is why Rito isn't sure whether drawing things she likes is a good enough reason to draw them.
As usually, Crepe Lady acts as a sounding board for the girls' problems, but Rito says something even I have trouble swallowing—that nobody has ever complimented her art before. She then says that she was secretly pleased when the Scoopers wanted to steal her art. Really? Mari and Kotoko and Misa are constantly complimenting her work. A freaking crowd of Harajuku denizens came by to admire Rito's graffiti before. Just last episode, Rito drew a brilliant sun on the dome of URAHARA, which attracted all the Scoopers instantly. This is a lazy conflict that was never a plot point until this episode. There's also the flashback to Mari and Kotoko praising Rito's art as soon as they start working together at Park, and this snippet feels very unfinished. I want to learn more about how these girls became friends, which still hasn't been touched on.
As forced as Rito's concerns are, they do establish one of the more interesting Scooper fights we've seen. Rito's internal conflict has real-life consequences for the battle and adds a new element of danger to the fight—maybe it's themselves, not the Scoopers, who are their own worst enemies after all. I was fascinated by this particular Scooper as well, which fought with pieces of extending thread; could it be the first Scooper capable of creation? With Misa learning about the rewarding joy of creation, maybe all their opponents are capable of it too.
The girls do end up saving the day after more tension than usual, but there isn't really time for Rito to react to getting her drawings back or establish whether she's resolved to draw for herself, for others, or some reason in between. Instead, Misa abruptly delivers the shocking final line of the episode. URAHARA has at last solidified its characters, and it's about to develop the plot in a big way, but it has a ways to go yet in terms of pacing and narrative execution. I'm hoping Misa's explanation manages to be stronger than Rito's half-baked backstory.
URAHARA is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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