by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 12 of
With several relationships approaching the point of no return, the main characters of WWW.Wagnaria have plenty of emotional minefields to navigate this week. Shindou agonizes over whether or not to turn his deadbeat father over to Kamakura, only to have the issue settled for him when his dad gets “collected” in the middle of another gambling spree. Adachi's constant fretting over his relationship with Muranushi proves to be contagious when she invites him to her home under the expectation that they're going to break up. By the time Kamakura runs away from home to live with Shindou, Higashida is certain that the restaurant is doomed to collapse under an avalanche of sharp objects and romantic tension.
It seems like Shindou is doomed to be forever in a hole and digging deeper, but it's a lot of fun to watch him struggle. It's not always obvious if he's about to do something crazy or just hide under a rock, and that element of uncertainty helps to keep things entertaining when he's on screen. His father is also amusing at times, particularly when he describes his string of good and bad luck near the end of the episode. However, it's Kamakura who steals the comedic spotlight in this story arc thanks to her newly discovered “happy airhead” persona. The contrast with her usual self is funny enough on its own, and the show adds to it by playing around with the sight gag of flowers growing out of her head. The chemistry within this group of characters is as bizarre as ever, but it still finds a way to work.
Muranushi's deadpan delivery is worlds apart from the noise and chaos we get from Shindou and Kamakura, and it might even be funnier. Because it's so hard for the other characters (and even the audience) to read her mood, she can get away with saying and doing outrageous things without ever breaking her poker face. Adachi, on the other hand, is starting to run out of steam with his “overthink everything” routine. He makes a good comedic straight man for Muranushi to play off of, but there's room for improvement here. On the positive side, we're treated to some nice visual direction and animation when they finally kiss at Muranushi's front door. Even if the movement from shadow into light isn't exactly subtle, it's surprisingly effective as an emotional high point.
With the other two couples in full-on panic mode, Higashida and Miyakoshi end up serving as a bastion of relative calm. Ever the rational observer, Higashida repeatedly appears at just the right time to remark on how much trouble the restaurant is in. There's also a nicely understated buildup of curiosity as we repeatedly see Miyakoshi thinking hard about something, only to find out that it's nothing particularly deep or important. The downside to giving all three couples significant screen time in this episode is that it forces the show to move faster than its natural pace. The plot points themselves are frequently funny, but the script rarely gets a chance to play around with any one scene.
As a result of the increased focus on advancing the story, this episode isn't as uproariously funny as its predecessor. It does everything it needs to do, it just doesn't have the time to go all the way down the comedic rabbit hole. Still, there's enough meaningful progress that we can hold out hope for a satisfying conclusion at the end of the season. A few characters will probably end up with significant physical injuries by the end, but I'm willing to bet that it'll be a fun ride for the audience.
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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