God, I hate Tensai’s character. People have asked me why I dislike Naoto from Persona 4. It’s pretty simple, really: I just don’t like it when a character feels the need to explain it all to the viewers. Naturally, part of any classic mystery is when the protagonist puts the pieces together one-by-one, leading to that satisfying conclusion when everything is laid bare. In most mystery-oriented anime, this usually follows three or four episodes of actual befuddlement where the characters are actually stumped and not quite so invincible. Naoto isn’t quite as extreme in this respect, but Tensai definitely is. She’s got plot-armor, but for the mind. By the end of every episode, she’ll have instantly solved the very poorly-developed mystery of the week, and thus there’s just no real satisfaction to be gleaned for the audience. Then, it’s made a hundred times worse because she’s arrogant about it. Finally, it’s made a thousand times worse because Tensai is a midget pettanko. Like yeah, she’s incredibly insufferable as a character, but hey, she’s so diminutive and cute so perhaps we should like her anyway!
This week, the Adventure Club hits up the latest set of ruins. If you’ll recall from last week’s episode, this coincides with the club’s vacation to some hot springs resort. You’ll also remember that Juugo had been having some financial troubles as of late, but somehow, he’s taken care of it since then. With the sudden appearance of Yukihime at the hot springs resort, it’s pretty damn obvious what has happened. In order to solve his money woes, our hero has agreed to work with Matsuri in order to retrieve the pieces of Nanana’s Collection. In exchange, he gets the money he needs to continue paying rent and buying copious amounts of pudding for the ungrateful ghost he’s got back home. Speaking of pudding and the ungrateful ghost, you get to see Juugo wake up early this week just so that he could get in line for some special pudding that apparently sells out before noon. Not only that, he express mails it home to Nanana because he just cares that much about her. Aw… too bad Nanana’s busy raging at home from his absence. The ending even implies that she’s going to punish him for even going on the vacation. But I digress.
So the day of the spelunking the ruins comes — I’m not sure what else to call it so I’ll just say our characters are going spelunking — and it turns out Isshin and his buddies had already gone on ahead of Juugo and Tensai. Whoops, I guess you should never forgive a backstabber. When our heroes catch up to the rest of the Adventure Club, the ruins appear to be yet another platform-jumping puzzle. If you make the wrong move, however, a water jet knocks you into the shallow pool beneath the platforms. But ah, this week’s main gimmick is the hot springs resort, so even the puzzle resembles one. The deeper you go into the ruins, the foggier and hotter it gets. Nevertheless, Juugo somehow solves the puzzle easily, which raises Tensai’s suspicions, but that’s another thing: we don’t even know how he solves it. He just instantly jumps from the right platform to the next, and Nanana’s Collection is retrieved within a matter of minutes. In previous, similar episodes, there had been a puzzle for each of the first two ruins, and the characters would at least go through motions of solving said puzzles. This time, however, the story no longer cares. Why? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?
There’s just too much for the episode to cover! After all, I’ve already mentioned the scheming shenanigans of Juugo and the members of Matsuri. Eventually, someone steals the treasure — it is a stuffed cat doll, by the way — which forces Tensai to go full-blown insufferable detective mode. She quickly realizes what Juugo is up to and comes to the conclusion that Yukihime’s presence is nothing more than a distraction. In fact, the real culprit is Shu, who has disguised himself as one of the workers at the hot springs resort. As a result, the stuffed cat doll is recovered, or so she thinks. But even then, there’s still more stuff to cover. After all, the characters are at a hot springs resort. Not only that, this is an anime. So obviously, we’re going to have to show some skin as well. That’s what I mean when I say the episode is too busy. There’s Juugo’s behind-the-scenes collaboration with Matsuri, the actual ruins itself, and finally, we still have to offer up some fanservice because, well, it’s anime and that’s what anime has always done.
The problem here, however, is a familiar one that has always reared its ugly head when an episode attempts to do too much: nothing ends up being any good. Like I’ve said, the ruins are solved in the manner of minutes. There isn’t a cool gimmick this time like with the mechanical spider that could destroy and remake corridors. Nah, you just jump from platform to platform and hope you don’t get knocked off. Whee. Juugo’s shenanigans with Matsuri could be seen from a mile away, which makes it even more insulting when Tensai feels the need to solve the mystery yet again as if no one else could’ve done so. And finally, the fanservice is pretty flaccid, because although anime is always obsessed with fanservice, anime can’t really show us anything juicy either. As a result, we never see anything, which makes me wonder how anyone can ever enjoy fanservice. Why not just find some porn to jerk off to instead of some half-hearted frames of the backside of naked cartoon chicks? The only twist here is that Yuu is attempting to spy on Isshin as he’s bathing instead of the typical scenario where the boys are trying to creep on the girls.
The only solace I can take from the episode is that when the stuffed cat doll is finally brought back to Nanana, she turns her nose up at it. It turns out the Adventure Club has been duped: the doll is a fake. By association, however, Tensai has also been duped… for the time being, anyway. I’m sure she’ll have some long, drawn-out explanation next week about how she had always known the damn thing was a fake, but whatever. Maybe Juugo is finally smart enough to pull a fast one without anyone noticing. Still, I can’t fathom why he gives a shit about Nanana, so while it would be a nice change of pace for him to beat Tensai every now and then, it’s not like his character is a compelling one anyway.