Mako once again proving her superiority this week.
Excuse me while I fall head over heels for how Looney Tunes this episode is. I really enjoy the concept of the ridiculous comedy episode after a dramatic turning point in a series. Perhaps my favorite example is Revolutionary Girl Utena when a couple of episodes after the beginning of the Black Rose Arc, just when the drama’s really getting moving, the audience gets the Cow Episode. (I dare not spoil the simple beauty of the Cow Episode for those who have not borne witness to its awesome splendor.) Here, but one episode after the crazy battle with the crazy power-ups we get a gauntlet of deathtraps.
Sure it pushes the story forward in a perfunctory way — it’s an annual event that the student council is using to crush Ryuuko, yada yada yada — but, really, this episode is here because the creators wanted to draw many silly traps and have the heroes fight through them. So they did. And why not? They’re hilarious. Why let a silly little thing like plot get in the way of something so pure and wonderful?
This episode is also a nice example of doing great things even when the animation quality isn’t totally there. It’s not all that surprising that the next episode after all the fighting in ep3 looks a bit stiff, but it’s worked around in some fun ways. There are plenty of opportunities to mess with the character models in silly ways such as in the above shot when Mako is about to take a bite into her wondrous cheesy prize. I especially enjoy how the limited, stiff nature of this episode’s animation is actually employed for jokes. The best one is definitely when Maiko puts on Senketsu and makes to destroy Ryuuko but can’t because Mako’s mom starched Senketsu when cleaning the uniform. Wonderful. That is the best joke based on crap animation since, well, INFERNO COP, but you get the point. If you didn’t laugh at Maiko’s wobbly inability to attack Ryuuko in any way, then we just can’t be friends.
Speaking of Maiko, I assume everyone who saw her immediately pegged her as evil due to those fierce red eyes. You can’t fool me! I may be crap at pointing out plot twists, but I know a comedically evil character when I see one! I enjoyed her semi-subtly sabotaging the trek to the school and becoming less subtle about it as they get closer to their destination. Plus points for use of Marina Inoue (she shows up in barely anything I watch these days; it is so wonderful to hear her go full-on Cartoon Evil) and that fantastic use of the classic Looney Tunes fake backdrop gag. It somehow took me by surprise, and my laughter was all the louder for it. I sort of wish the episode had gone extra ridiculous and had Mako run through it but Ryuuko still crash into it (because, of course, Mako runs on cartoon logic), but it’s no biggie.
And this ending! Perfect conclusion after all the noisiness of the journey to get to school. Ryuuko just slinks to her desk, sighs heavily and settles in for another day of school. Such beautiful comedic timing.