Arakawa 5, Giant Killing 6, Neko Overrun 5

Shows constructed of vignettes have a habit of dragging. One sketch doesn’t work, which slows down the momentum for the next one. Soon I’m checking the time and wondering if it’ll be over soon. Working! is like this, the same with Hidamari Sketch and Arakawa Under the Bridge. But sometimes everything seems to work, and the episode is over before you’re ready for it. Arakawa 5 is an example, and I can’t figure out why. It’s just more of the same …

We meet another weird character, P-Ko, who supplies the vegetables for the group. Her assets are sensitivity toward her crop and an amazing clumsiness. She takes a dislike to Recruit. Although it’s just another “introduce Recruit to another weirdo and watch his reaction” scene, it works better. I think it’s because Recruit’s tolerance to strangeness is growing. He even mentions that he’s used to not being accepted by these people. Also, P-Ko’s clumsy antics are amusing.

Nino's job under the bridge is to catch fish.

But the bulk of the episode deals with the fact that Recruit doesn’t do anything. He’s a freeloader, something he naturally hates to be called. Nino tells him it’s okay, but he still can’t get around the fact that just about everyone under the bridge does something, even if it’s making white lines. As for me, I think being Nino’s lover is a job in itself, but I don’t think he’d accept that. Now, they do play with this “freeloader” theme for too long, but the episode kept hustling from scene to scene before I could get bored with it.

In short, it’s more of the same, but it works better, and I don’t really know why.

Giant Killing 6 is split into two. In part one Tatsumi is dragged to a managers’ press conference. Intrigue abounds, as managers shake hands and say prophetic things. It’s a little off-putting. In Japanese soccer, aren’t anyone friends? As expected, Tatsumi shakes things up a little with his speech. Some of the managers grumble inwardly, but he impresses a German coach by shaking his hand. Some French guy invites him to lunch.

They get lost, and you get the impression that this new guy’s a bit of an oddball. The talk switches from French to Japanese (Part of the unexpected humor in this bit comes from all the mangled foreign accents). They stop to watch kids play soccer and … they act friendly. After all the threats and mockery in undertones between everyone in this business, it comes as an enormous relief. Turns out the weird guy is Blanc, the manager for the French team. Such is Tatsumi’s mindset that he doesn’t know this and doesn’t care. He likes this eccentric man who loves soccer.

That done, they get ready for their first game, and we get back to the grumbled threats. The opposing coach gloats that he’s too sly for ETU. It’s time for the game face, I guess. We meet Fujii, a freelance reporter assigned to the club who desperately hopes for something to write about. The fans are pumped-up. Everyone’s into it … and the opponent scores a quick goal. Whoops. Tune in next week!

Mayoi Neko Overrun jumps and stumbles its way through another bonding episode, alternating sometimes sweet but often saccharine moments with bits of silliness. We learn some more about what goes on in Chise’s mind. The rest of the gang are so busy at the store that they have no time to spend with her. This episode we learn just how she feels about that.

The first time, when they leave her meeting early to attend to the store, it’s actually quite affecting. We see how lonely she is and how much she wants to be part of the gang, not realizing, of course, that they already consider her a friend. Then they switch to silly, as Chise decides, working with Kaho’s advice, decides to open a huge, fancy patissiere of her own and drive them out of business. THEN they’ll have plenty of time to hang out with her. If this sounds cruel, consider that she wants to hire them to work at her place. If that still sounds cruel … well, it is.

I don't know WHAT goes on in Chise's head.

Then the show does another of its weird lurches. The gang figure that the only way to save the store is for one of them to win the festival’s bathing suit event. Time for some girls’ petty jealousy and boob jokes. Then it lurches back to maudlin and the right people overhear just the right bits of conversation; the gang realize Chise is simply lonely, Chise learns that she’s a friend to them already. All is forgiven and everyone is happy. Never mind the weird end piece about the conspiracy to get Otome in a swimsuit … I swear, this show doesn’t know what it is, sometimes. Either that, or its more innovative than I’m giving it credit for. … Nah.

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