While plotting their next move at Shirase’s house, our trio of heroines are visited by Yuzuki Shiraishi, a actress their age who is being sent to Antarctica as a publicity stunt. She’s actually trying to pawn off the trip to Shirase, against the wishes of her mother/manager, who trails her and prevents anything official from occurring. Yuzuki is still dead set against going, though, so her mother soon contacts Shirase and offers to lobby the project to include the girls if they can convince Yuzuki to go ahead with it. Drama and borderline harassment ensues.
This episode seemed to move a little faster than I was expecting, which seems odd in retrospect because I started episode 2 half-expecting Shirase to smuggle herself and Mari onto the ice-breaker before it left Japan. I mean, we’ve gotta get this party started if we’re going to spend any significant time deep down under, but Yuzuki’s full investment in a group of girls who have openly admitted that they’re attempting to manipulate her caught me by surprise, even if her “Plan A” had slipped through her fingers due to her unpredictable work schedule (if I read her Line – sorry: Rine – conversations properly).
I’m probably bad at reading into this sort of thing in real time, but, having thought about it, I’ll content myself with imagining that the diner conversation included the terms of her mother’s offer and that the trip involves enough time in close proximity that the promise of getting in on what may still be the ground floor of a fast friendship (pun intended) was suddenly a very real option.
It may have taken me more than one watch to appreciate their handling of the invitation to the outsider (made easier since I am a huge sucker for that concept), but pretty much every other aspect of the episode was immediately appealing. The girls have a good group dynamic and their banter flows well. Comic timing is on point, and I appreciate that there are back-to-back scenes that include (for lack of a better term) super-real humor (Shirase stubbing her toe while distracted) and more surreal stuff (Mari instantaneously playing the part of presenter [or whatever] to drive home a gag).
I especially like the short scene right before the break with Shirase and Hinata on the train, for several reasons. One, of course, is that it’s always fun to see Hinata in her adorable food shirts, but it’s an excellent bonding scene, and all the more touching for not involving the audience insert character or the focus of the episode’s main plot. Neither Mari nor Yuzuki will probably ever know that that conversation took place, and it really gives me hope that this sort of ensemble cast development is going to be sprinkled throughout the show.
Three episodes in and things are looking good – we’ve got a diverse and entertaining cast that’s just been rounded out, so we should be on our way to watching them bond in the featureless wasteland of the Antarctic pretty soon (though I am a little worried that mole-woman in the stinger might delay things). Definitely looking forward to it.
Aside: the photo-filter-style backgrounds may occasionally contrast with the character animation but generally continue to look sharp.