When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace
by Paul Jensen,
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace giveth, and it taketh away. On one hand, it looks like we won't get to see the emotional fireworks that were foreshadowed a few weeks ago. On the other hand, this episode does offer some undeniably sweet moments between the show's most compelling characters. As trade-offs go, this is an OK deal.
Much like it did last week, the show splits this episode into two separate stories. The first involves Jurai and Hatoko taking a trip to the beach, while the second sends him to a summer festival with Tomoyo. Taken as a whole, this latest run of episodes functions as a competition between the four Literature Club girls to find out who has the best chemistry with Jurai. In that context, the show picks a pretty clear winner by the time the end credits roll.
Hatoko's half of the episode offers plenty of laughs thanks to her awkward attempts at following the advice of a teen fashion magazine. It's a lot of fun to watch her attempts at flirtation bounce harmlessly off of Jurai's cluelessness. For such an energetic character, his deadpan reactions hit the mark surprisingly well. The story culminates in a heartfelt conversation that lays out the state of their relationship. However much Jurai may care about Hatoko, it's clear that he'll never see her the way she wants him to. It's a tough pill to swallow, though Hatoko seems to take it in stride. If anything, it's a bit frustrating to see just how OK she is, with nary a teardrop in sight. The scene still works, but I wish the show had done more to make Jurai confront the consequences of his words. Hatoko's feelings were built up to be more than just a fleeting crush, and it feels like the audience is being shortchanged in the drama department.
Hatoko's story may have left something to be desired, but Tomoyo's certainly doesn't. The chemistry between Jurai and Tomoyo has been a constant strong point in this series, and it shines through again this week. Whether it's their giddy rivalry at the shooting range or the feeling of mutual understanding just before the fireworks, the two of them make an undeniably strong pair. As the fireworks begin, it's hard to dispute Tomoyo's conclusion that this result was inevitable. The other girls can draw all the battle lines they want, but it won't change the outcome.
Just as things seem to be ending on a sweet note, the other half of the series finally rears its head. After all this time, it appears that the Literature Club finally has a supernatural battle on its hands. I've joked from time to time that the show's title always seemed out of touch with its content, so it feels odd to be dreading the next episode as much as I am. The larger world of super-powered individuals derailed one of the show's most interesting, if controversial, story arcs when it was first introduced. As we head toward the end of the season, I can't help but worry that it will do the same again. Jurai and Tomoyo watching the fireworks together would've made for a perfectly decent final scene, and I'd hate to see that moment upstaged by a half-baked battle sequence.
It may not have packed the dramatic punch that it initially promised, but this latest run of episodes has still been a solid effort overall. Hatoko remains a lovable bundle of good intentions, and Jurai and Tomoyo continue to steal the show when left to their own devices. I hope my fears about next week go unrealized, because it would be fantastic to see this series end on a high note.
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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