by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 10 of
With two of the couples in WWW.Wagnaria already dating, the spotlight was bound to fall on Shindou and Kamakura sooner or later. In the midst of one of his many bouts of self-pity, Shindou looks to the past in order to understand why he rejected Kamakura when they were kids. Meanwhile, Kamakura's bodyguards are starting to worry that her foul mood will get them killed, or at least make their lives extremely unpleasant. They convince Shindou to revert to his old strong-willed personality, even if it's just an act. The plan works briefly, but it ultimately just makes things worse for Shindou once Kamakura catches on to his deception.
The flashback helps add some depth to a pair of characters who have mostly served as comic relief up to this point. By letting the audience see more of Shindou's backstory, the show changes his rejection of Kamakura from a childish whim to a well-intentioned mistake. Even if he's still a spineless idiot in the present, that glimpse at his motivations helps us understand him a little better. At the same time, putting the rejection into context lends some more emotional weight to Kamakura's side of the equation and puts a bit of logic behind her sadistic streak. The comedic chemistry between them doesn't change much as a result of this flashback, but it's a bit easier to actually like these characters now that we know more about them.
While there's certainly humor to be found in Shindou's trip down memory lane, the episode starts going for laughs in earnest once Kamakura's bodyguards step into the picture. Their plan is amusingly stupid in and of itself, and the negotiations they go through to get Shindou on board feature some good character humor. The real highlight is Shindou's attempt at reviving his tough side in front of Kamakura, which is great fun to watch as it slowly but surely goes off the rails. Poor Shindou is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't here: the only way to make the plan work is to be as mean as he can to Kamakura, but he knows that he's only digging his own grave in the long run. It's hard to argue with the rest of the cast when they unanimously conclude that he's going to end up dead one way or another.
Some amusing interludes throughout the episode help keep the show from leaning too heavily on this main storyline. Shindou's one-sided advice sessions with Kisaki are consistently entertaining, mostly because she so clearly doesn't care about his problems. Higashida and Miyakoshi are also on hand to remind us that they are, in theory, the main characters of the show. Their yes-or-no interrogation by Miyakoshi's mother is an absolute riot, and it makes good use of the show's recurring trick of having characters be completely unapologetic about their personality quirks. Overall, there's a good balance here between a core episodic storyline and brief but humorous narrative detours.
This episode fills in a missing piece of the puzzle by finally developing the show's third romantic couple, and the results are largely positive. The relationship between Shindou and Kamakura is proving to be entertaining in a uniquely warped way, and I'm curious to see how things progress now that Shindou has found his good-for-nothing father. The challenge for WWW.Wagnaria going forward will be giving the right amount of screen time to each of its characters in the remaining episodes. Finding the right narrative balance will be key to ending on a strong note.
WWW.WAGNARIA!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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