by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 8 of
It's usually a big deal when two main characters start dating, but there's not much about the relationship between Higashida and Miyakoshi that you could call “usual.” They both have their own ulterior motives for going out: Miyakoshi is pumped up about the prospect of getting free stuff, and Higashida figures it'll be easier to say yes and have Miyakoshi get tired of him than it would be to turn her down. So it's no surprise that their relationship quickly starts going downhill. Nagata yells at Higashida for dating someone for the wrong reasons, and Miyakoshi seeks out Muranushi's advice, who is hardly in a position to help out, since she's busy getting angry with Adachi for his latest poorly timed outburst.
Considering how slowly the romances in the original Wagnaria moved, there's something inherently funny about the lead couple in WWW.Wagnaria casually agreeing to go out with one another. The setup gets even more amusing once it becomes clear that neither of them is going along with this because of any real affection for the other. It's such a blunt slap in the face to romantic comedy conventions that I can't help but enjoy it. The comedic chemistry between Higashida and Miyakoshi is also crucial when it comes to selling this premise to the audience; because it's easy to believe that neither character cares what the other thinks, we can enjoy the train wreck without feeling bad for the protagonists.
In a departure from the show's usual pattern, the supporting cast doesn't really add much to this episode. Characters like Kouno and Yanagiba are usually good for a few laughs per episode, but most of this week's background banter and comedic asides come up short of their usual standard. Even Nagata's rant about Higashida's motives feels a bit uninspired, which is a shame since her flustered commentary has often been the icing on the cake when it comes to Higashida and Miyakoshi's interactions. There doesn't seem to be any particular reason behind the lackluster performance from the supporting characters; they just aren't quite as fun to watch as they usually are.
The latest speed bump in Adachi and Muranushi's relationship falls somewhere between the other parts of the episode in terms of comedic strength. It certainly has its moments, like Adachi's immediate realization that he's put his foot in his mouth or Muranushi's demand for an exact, percentage-based assessment of how much Adachi likes her. Between Muranushi's advice and Adachi's forlorn warnings, they also play fairly well off of Higashida and Miyakoshi. That's part of the problem though; the minimal screen time they're afforded makes Adachi and Muranushi into something of a sideshow in this episode, so they don't get a chance to go beyond what we already expect from them. There's just not enough time to set up a big twist or humorous surprise.
This is a step down from last week in terms of outright comedy, but at least WWW.Wagnaria is moving its plot in a good direction. I'm eager to see more of Higashida and Miyakoshi's awkward attempts to act like a couple, and their dates have the positive side effect of taking the show to some new locations with fresh backgrounds. It also feels like we're approaching tipping points for the show's other quasi-romantic couples, and seeing all of those complicated feelings spill over should provide plenty of new comedic material.
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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