The last couple episodes or Red Data Girl were heavy on talk, and worse, exposition, and even worse, confusing exposition. It was only at the end of last week, when Manatsu jumped onto that spirit horse, that things looked more promising, and indeed, this week we get an episode that shows what the series is capable of.
Mostly the show is subdued and introspective, with a lot of normalcy belying its supernatural elements, so when something supernatural comes out the effect is increased. It’s been careful not to overdo that aspect maybe too much, to the point where I just want Izumiko to start glowing. It doesn’t help when you’re not sure what’s going on. But this episode they make it sort of clear. Manatsu and Masumi have a sort of connection that makes them closer to each other than to their sister Mayura. Now Manatsu says he wants to stop holding off the inevitable and stay with Masumi in his world. Is this all because that horse died? Geez …
To bring him back, Izumiko tries to become the himegami on purpose for the first time; naturally it doesn’t work, but she does get sent to some other, supersaturated plane, and the episode instantly improves. She discusses/argues with Masumi (or IS he? … Er, I don’t actually know anymore) and starts dancing and glowing to get past a boulder to where Manatsu is, only to learn that it’s not Manatsu but Masumi, and that Masumi isn’t really what we think he is. But before we can get confused we get a big flying snake thing, Miyuki sprouting black wings (which makes even Izumiko say “WTF?”), the real himegami (with that splendid dissonant chord they play), who’s actually kind of rude to her, and finally, Izumiko’s elusive mom. Trust me; it makes more sense when you see it. A pity, then, that they fall back into talk after the crisis is over, but at least this time the talk is understandable. Good episode.
Like many shows about nothing, Yuyushiki‘s first episode didn’t impress me very much, but now that I understand the characters a little better and have seen the show’s strengths it’s been growing on me. At first it seemed obvious: two annoying characters make fun of the straight man, who reacts, like a million comedy situations before. But you can get some funny bits out of it if the idiots have something going for them. In this show that means Yukari. She has a gift for non-sequitors worthy of Osaka; even her idiotic comrade, Yuzuko, doesn’t know what to make of her sometimes. But chances are one of the other two can take whatever strange utterance that comes out of Yukari’s mouth and play with it, batting the concept back to Yukari, or letting it fall, plop, as Yui tends to do when it’s time for the joke to finish.
So, even when I’m not sure how they got to a certain point, they usually manage to make it funny enough for me not to care. The dynamic’s biggest flaw is that they’re completely dependent on Yui. Nothing wrong with that, Yui’s a solid straight man with occasional flashes of lunacy of her own, but through seven episodes I can’t think of a scene that had just the other Yukari and Yuzuko; in fact, I can’t imagine one. And they’re really not complete without all three, either. The New Years episode had Yui/Yuzuko and Yui/Yukari scenes, but they weren’t very interesting apart from the “gorilla” bit, and that actually involved all three characters stretched between the two scenes to be funny. This dynamic will go stale eventually, but they’ve tried to introduce side characters, such as “mom” and Aikawa; they’re not really part of the flow yet, but they have potential to widen the show’s comic antics somewhat.