It’s late January so you know what season it is… yaoi season! (No that didn’t make any sense. I got nothing. That’s what happens when you get Leno’s writers writing for you.)
Issei’s CGI car was the ugliest damn thing I’ve ever seen since that CGI waterski scene from the first episode of Armed Librarians. Issei picks up chicks with that thing? It looks more like the child molester mobile: sedan version. Getting beyond that there were a few details during this episode which annoyed me, although overall I thought the episode was ok.
So basically, the episode picks off where the last one ended, with Hiro and his cute imouto, Mana, accepting Issei’s invitation to go on a drive with Isuzu and Kaname in tow as well. It’s all fun and games in the beginning. You can tell by the blaringly cheesy background music. In fact, the only thing more forward than Isuzu’s advances (and later Issei’s advances) was the background music. Really, cheery, cheesy music for the lighthearted scenes, and lots of dissonant chords anytime something unusual occurs. Normally, I’d be fine with that, except it was way over the top. I get it. I get it. Don’t trust bad men. Or your girlfriend’s gay brother.
I wonder if Kaname’s giving off some hints here and there. Although she plays off her comment to Hiro about feeling like they’re trapped by nature as sort of a joke, I don’t think I believe her 100%. Especially since Issei set a strong precedent for not accepting anyone’s "jokes" in this show.
Hooray for random fanservice! Hey! I’m talking about the suzumikus, not the half naked trap! For someone who plays the prude, Hiro’s eyes were pretty much glued to Isuzu’s first measurement area. Eyes up, Hiro. Eyes up. Unfortunately, too bad Issei missed this scene, otherwise he might not have gotten a mixed message later.
Issei’s first come-on to Hiro happens when Hiro borrows Issei’s sweater to cover up, after having been pulled into the drink by Isuzu. Hiro thanks Issei for the sweater and tells him that he’ll return it after washing it, at which point Issei tells him to not bother washing it, because he wouldn’t want to get rid of Hiro’s scent. Isuzu chides her brother for his sick sense of humor, and explains that he tells the weirdest joke. Judging by Isuzu’s quick low-key response, I got the impression that she believes what she’s saying and that she’s not covering up for him. On the other hand, judging by that flashback of Issei sniffing that sweater, either he’s got some sort of breathing problem, or that sweater is laced with some wack shit. Things only get weirder during the drive home, when Issei thanks Hiro for a good time and tenderly places his hand on top of Hiro’s. I can’t help but think that a better lead like Keiichi or Battler wouldn’t have stood for that sort of perverseness.
The next day Hiro heads to "the Center" (short for the Jouga Medical Treatment Center) to get a check-up, having caught a cold from Isuzu’s water mischief… or possibly cooties from Issei’s sweater. Gee… "the Center" that doesn’t sound evil, ya think? And well, whattya know. Here, Hiro meets Nemuru’s uncle, who’s a doctor at the hospital and not exactly Mr. Credibility. Drawing blood from Hiro seemed like overkill for a minor cold, but he later engages in some big-Pharma shenanigans that seems to solidify his shadiness.
I always wondered why people on TV (and this applies outside of anime) were such pansies when it comes to things like colds. I have never, once, gone to a hospital or even a doctor to get a checkup due to some sniffles and sneezes. Anyway, there were a couple details about this scene that really bugged me. One was again, the background music. Specifically, the strange country-western guitar lick that plays when we see that Issei is also at the hospital and noticed Hiro, from behind a corner. As if the setting and his previous actions didn’t make his creepiness clear enough, we apparently needed a ridiculously over-the-top BGM loop. The other is, why is Nemuru’s uncle meeting with the head of the pharmaceutical company in a dark room, without turning the lights on? Is that what evil people do? Read experimental product lists via the light of dusk? This sort of stuff smacks of poor direction. Apparently these people are really evil, or it’s just an obvious misdirection ploy.
As Hiro leaves the Center, he finds Issei outside waiting for him. During the drive, Issei questions why Hiro refuses his sister’s advances, and decides that Hiro’s just actually gay for him. At which point we get the near-raep scene with Issei feeling up Hiro and getting in close for a sloppy kiss. That is until Hiro kicks the dashboard, and knocks over the magical Hassaku air freshener, which smashes when it hits the ground. This seems to snap Issei out of his yaoi-RAGE funk. And Issei "recovers" by claiming that it was all a joke.
Definitely a compelling scene, but the one thing that bothered me was that the whole time Hiro was screaming, I kept thinking… "this is Yuu Kobayashi… this is Yuu Kobayashi." I typically like her. But I’m learning that I don’t like her as a boy (Satoshi notwithstanding), and it’s really tough for me to separate Hiro the character, from Yuu the seiyuu. I’m either going to have de-program my brain to stop thinking that, or it’s going to be a tough run.
After dropping Hiro off at home, Issei pops some pills. Perhaps it’s for his psychotic behavior, but it’s probably actually causing it. Apparently, it does nothing for his sweater huffing habit. Based on the short conversation between Nemuru and her uncle, it seems safe to conclude that the people in the new village need Hassaku oranges to keep them from going crazy.
I had a lot of complaints, but like I mentioned at the beginning, I didn’t think the episode was bad. The story is interesting, but the direction needs improving. I have some thoughts as to what’s going on, but I’m going to withhold that speculation for now.