The first part of the episode was definitely hard to watch. For one, I’ve never been a fan of where the story revolves around Iino as one of the main characters and two, I have had it up to here with simps in anime
or maybe just in general. The story is definitely trying to have us sympathize with Iino and in a sense, I do feel bad for her. But it does get tiring when I never really liked her character to start with and then they’re just constantly having all these circumstances to get you to feel bad for her. I know they’ve been doing that kind of thing for characters such as Kaguya and Ishigami, and even with Kaguya, it’s hard to feel bad for her at times when she doesn’t change her attitude or keeps doing things that annoy me. Which was a big problem with Kaguya for me last season since she did all of these things, but her development felt extremely stagnant. Not to mention it always feels like Iino mostly wins her situations while everyone suffers both wins and losses pretty equally. So that’s always been kind of annoying to me.
Though I did really like the nod to Ishigami being able to match the energy now after being on the cheer squad last season.
If anything, this part made me like Onodera more as a side character. We first met her in the second season where she was one of Ishigami’s classmates who despised him for the false accusations in middle school. However, after watching how hard he was putting in trying to change himself, I feel like she slowly started to change her perspective on him. And I appreciate that despite being against Iino in certain situations, she offered insight and perspective to Iino’s obnoxious demands and suggestions. And when Iino was able to prove that they’d be able to do the bonfire, there wasn’t any hard feelings from Onodera. Instead she did her best to be supportive and stuck things out with Iino. She seems like a person who needs to be able to see something herself and once proved that something can work, she does her best to be a good support.
And then we go from a side character I like… to a couple I do not. I feel like this was the episode of the simps. Not only did we have Tsubame simps, but we also had Kaguya simps. I was never a big fan of characters (or at least the action) of fawning over someone because they thought they were so “cool/beautiful.” There are times where I feel like they make it work, but in this case… wow they’re annoying. The two school reporters did not do it for me.
However, there were a couple parts that intrigued me a bit. While it was a very small scene, the part where Kaguya said how she got into archery basically supported up my initial thoughts from last episode. She’s just going through the motions with a lot of the things she does but lacks the passion and drive to pursue them further. She may be good at a lot of things, but she doesn’t particularly feel too strongly for them. It’s pretty clear that she only does these things because her parents made her do them. And then there was Shirogane who had some underlining meaning to his response to how he feels about the Culture Festival. From the previous episode, we already know that he is referring to his confession to Kaguya. But how he’s planning on carrying that out, no one knows
except the manga readers. Though considering how they refer to the “major incident” during the Culture Festival should raise a few concerns lol.
And then we have yet again another situation where Shirogane sucks at something and Chika has to help him… or so we initially think. Shirogane can’t make balloon animals for squat while everyone else is somehow able to make these super intricate balloon objects. Chika notices him struggling and USUALLY she would reluctantly try and go help him. However, after all the pain Chika went through trying to help Shirogane, she is vehemently against helping him this time. To which, understandable. Though I couldn’t help but feel the urge to throw something out a window when Chika yelled at Kashiwagi about her “destroying a child’s potential” when she offered for him to do something easier. Like, GIRL, MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Honestly, I felt like Kashiwagi’s plan was reasonable since it might help Shirogane’s mental state and get him away from constant failure. But then Chika had the gall to get angry with her. It definitely feels like whenever Chika’s way of “raising a child” is challenged, she tries to force her beliefs onto others, which does get a bit frustrating to watch and I had to roll my eyes over Chika fighting with herself over whether to help him in the end. Either leave him be or help him! Don’t be wishy-washy! But DANG that BURN on Kashiwagi XD.
When Kaguya said she’d be okay with all the popping, I knew she had to be lying. And I just CACKLED at all the comparisons to Shirogane popping balloons. I feel you, Kaguya. I also hate sudden loud noises. But I appreciate how despite how unsettled she is, she sticks it out to spend some time alone with Shirogane. I respect the determination.
I feel like this was actually really good progress between Shirogane and Kaguya. For the longest time, Shirogane made it a point not to show Kaguya his weakness, but here, he actually just sat down and failed several times over right in front of her. It’s as if he’s finally putting down the wall he’s built up between them and actually allowed himself to be vulnerable and honest. And it all accumulated to a very sweet scene between them where Kaguya was actually happy to see his weakness because it felt like she had gotten to know him a little better. And I think it is a very good quality to have that despite you not being good at something, you do everything in your power to be able to get better at it. I also really like the symbolism of the broken balloon bits on the table and then has Kaguya’s hands cover them as if taking his weakness and cradling it against her chest. Though now that I think about it, that’s actually something that differs between Kaguya and Shirogane. While Shirogane struggles to do a lot of things, Kaguya is naturally able to do them well. But because those things come naturally, Kaguya just views those things as things she has to do while Shirogane puts every ounce of his effort into them. And it was very heartwarming for Kaguya to essentially tell him that all the effort he’s put into the things he’s bad at wasn’t wasted.
THIS. This is what I have been hoping to see. Them finally interacting with each other normally without any of their facades or pride in the way. Sure they’ve had moments, but this one felt more casual and normal without anything interrupting them in a comedic fashion. It felt nice for them to actually bond without schemes or weird shenanigans happening and that GOOD progress was made without any of them backtracking or doing anything to ruin the moment. I really appreciate the show understanding when to throw jokes or when to keep things serious. Both of them were being completely honest with each other and it was incredibly sweet. Especially when Kaguya essentially told Shirogane that she finds him to be a lovely person despite all his flaws. Also I think it’s also very telling how they started on the furthest and opposite sides of the table, Kaguya came over to Shirogane’s side to encourage him. Their relationship has come so far.
And then the show subverts our expectations AGAIN, believing that Shirogane will actually be able to make something from the balloons after being given new ones… only for him to be as equally bad at it with the degraded ones. And of course, Chika couldn’t let lions lie and offered her help right before he popped it again. I’d be lying if I didn’t start hysterically laughing at their expense. THE CYCLE CONTINUES.
Not gonna lie, if not for that last segment, I would not have liked this episode. The first 70% of the episode was not appealing to me and it did feel like a slog. As I stated previously, I don’t like or care for Iino or segments that are focused around her and then the simp energy came off way too strong for my liking. I wasn’t even laughing until that final part of the episode where it shifted away from those initial things. It just wasn’t my type of humor. Thankfully it ended on a good note with some actual progress between Shirogane and Kaguya and it left me with a good laugh. But I’m excited to see what becomes of this Culture Festival Arc~
Even if I know one of the major things that happens.