“Did my sister do this to you?”
Having survived the primary election, by the skin of their teeth, the Oojima campaign is immediately getting started on preparations for the main election by having a sleepaway camp. But as we’ve come to expect, it handles it with a far defter touch than just about any other show I’ve seen. First of all, the “camp” setting doesn’t seem much different from school (actually, it’s just their normal club room), but there’s just enough feeling of ‘different’ to change the atmosphere. Everyone is in their non-school clothes, and there are other school groups that are apparently using this camp at the same time. So it doesn’t take the chance to throw all the normal relationships out the window and just go nuts. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some significant developments.
I said last week that I’d hope we’d get to some of the romance part of this show, and I also mentioned that Chisato is seemingly way behind the other girls, especially Satsuki and Mifuyu. Well, this episode really takes the opportunity to catch her up, and even though it wasn’t strictly ‘focused’ on Chisato, there was as much development of her character in less than half an episode than we usually see in the full ‘focus’ episodes in other shows. As the episode opens with the club members going home after the primary election, Chisato – who lives next door to Yuuki and thus walks all the way home with him – invokes the “Chocolate routine”. We saw this once before, where she buys a chocolate bar, gives half to Yuuki, and then puts half on the plate at the home shrine while they sit quietly. But this time, Yuuki mentions that Daiki is happy for them. Later in the show, Chisato is called back to the memory of her little brother, and with a quick flashback, we learn that he died in a traffic accident. But the show doesn’t dwell on it, just gives us that quick bit of information and back to the present. I really like this method of doling out small pieces of information and not beating them into our heads.
The other excellent development for Chisato was figuratively facing right up to Yuuki. As the night winds down at camp, Chisato purposefully walks into the outdoor bath where Yuuki is and gets right in next to him. But in the same way Mifuyu’s closeness to Yuuki in episode 5 was smoothly handled without silly reactions, this situation is handled equally skillfully. Yuuki is somewhat embarrassed, but Chisato is not, nor is she throwing herself at him. After a reminder that Yuuki stopped their bathing together as children, she softly, wistfully, gets to the point: “Don’t you get it? Why don’t you do anything? Don’t you want to touch me? Don’t you want to look at my naked body? Tell me.” Forthright, mature, even respectful, it conveyed a yearning in Chisato that we hadn’t seen to this point. It communicated the feeling that she feels they already have the emotional relationship, but wants more. Unfortunately they get interrupted by Yume, but now it’s out there. Just a very refreshing scene, having that conversation with no tsun, no stammering, no tropes at all.
The other major development revolves around the Shinonone sisters, who Yuuki finds having an argument outside regarding their mother’s death anniversary. After he’s discovered eavesdropping Hazuki-sensei, already in her cups, drops the bomb that he’s already kissed her, to Satsuki’s obvious dismay. Later, after escaping from being a stand-in for Yume’s dakimakura, Yuuki finds Hazuki falling down drunk, and helps her back to the women’s dorm, where he tries to make a stand for the rules (no boys) at the door, but Hazuki isn’t having any of that, and hectors him into taking her up to her room. He manages to escape her clutches without anything happening, but since KoiChoco apparently can’t avoid *all* of the obvious anime cliches, he’s then discovered by the other girls, and has to beat a hasty retreat. Trapped at the locked stairwell door, he’s saved by Satsuki, whose “VIP Room” just happens to be right there.
After she covers for him to the pursuing girls, she starts to question him about his relationship with her sister, and learns more details about their atypical closeness, and in particular the kiss that Hazuki drama-bombed into the earlier conversation. Yuuki, to his credit, is honest that it wasn’t entirely Hazuki who did the kissing, but that he’s not in love with her. We also see Satsuki pushing physical closeness onto Yuuki, both while interrogating him about her sister and when she later asks him for a favor in exchange for letting him stay in her room longer. Both obviously have an effect on Yuuki, but again no hijinks ensue, no crazy overreactions or accidental falls or anything that would have us rolling our eyes. But Satsuki’s actions do show us that there’s more physical attraction there than she has let on previously. As always, she plays it very straight: not coy, not coquettish, yet not even a hint of overtly using sex unfairly. So on one hand it feels very ‘anime’, yet watching it doesn’t give that ‘here we go again’ feeling that you so often get in harem romance shows.
There was plenty of other good stuff to see in this episode: Yume’s normal interactions with Yuuki (which to me seemed very appropriately dialed back just a couple notches), Isara cooking with Yuuki, and even good information on the Senkyo part of the title, since it was an election camp for them, as they discussed the potential locked up votes and swing votes, as well as what kind of candidate to position Oojima as. The show is juggling multiple storylines, seriousness, humor, and romance, and looking like it’s not even trying hard.
I guess it’s sort of bad that in a show that consistently provides aversions of tropes, there’s one every episode that you see coming a mile away, and it just makes you cringe. I can’t figure out if they’re doing it on purpose or if they just can’t help themselves. And writing about it here, I don’t know if it’s something they should get rid of. Maybe those moments of obvious silliness – Yuuki grabbing Chisato’s breast, Michiru getting wrapped up in ribbons, Mifuyu switching the speeches, and Yuuki being chased by girls for being in the wrong dorm – help to ground the show, and keep our expectations just that little bit lower. And consequently, the things that it does well seem that much more on target.
The only ugly in KoiChoco is that Michiru still hasn’t been included much in the show. But yet again, the episode ends with her in a high place, looking off in the distance? What does she see? What is she looking for? The show’s handled every girl almost perfectly, I’m expecting the same for Michiru.
OMG, Michiru smiled! *nosebleed*
So what’s coming up in the future? I know that Satsuki’s still my favorite, but Chisato made a big move this week, but are any of the girls the actual front runner with Yuuki?