Tohru guilt-trips all of her friends into spending New Year’s with their families. Saki guilt-trips the boys into spending it with Tohru.
This episode drops another reference to the story’s original timeline, with this segment having taken place at the rollover from 1998’s year of the tiger to 1999’s year of the rabbit. Shigure implies as much when he speaks of Momiji performing the traditional dance, with Yuki having performed the duty three years prior, which would have been at the top of 1996’s year of the rodent. It raises another question, though – when do the chosen actually get chosen? Is it at birth, or near enough? What happens if New Year’s rolls around and the representative for that year is too young to take direction?
Now, complicating my question from before about when this specific show is taking place is the calendar in Hatori’s office from last episode, which is either from 1988 or 2016. This makes no sense whatsoever, except as some sort of error on the part of either the background team or whoever was telling them what to do. For instance, 1998 could easily have been misread as 1988, or mis-typed that way (doubling the wrong character is a mistake that I myself sometimes make). Conversely, 2016 would be plausible if the plan were to depict the show in near-real-time (i.e.: this episode would be depicting this past New Year’s), assuming Hatori hasn’t bothered to change his calendar since the loss of his assistant (and also assuming that the two-year time period that he mentions started at about the end of his flashback), but—as I have tried to imply before—that would be a stupid plan, because this is the year of the boar.
I’m tempted to think that we’re just re-watching the events in their original era, but that flat-screen. Such things may have existed in 1998, but, at the dawn of any kind of flat-screen technology, just the one could have cost as much as a car. The fact that it was back to normal with no fanfare before episode 5 even started (it kind of exploded) seems like it calls into question how much of Kagura’s affectionate violence is in-universe-real more than than it implies that it got replaced, but even that’s kind of a head-scratcher since the door panels were repaired on-screen. Heck, the boys are still repairing door panels even at the beginning of this episode (presumably the casualties of more recent sparring between the two of them, though the only clue we have is that Yuki blames the damage on Kyo).
…Oh yeah – I’m supposed to be talking about this episode.
I mean… not a whole lot happens, but… a whole lot doesn’t really need to happen. We got some good character moments for a lot of the cast, and some insight into their lives outside of the main trio. We got an unobtrusive introduction to another Soma, which will surely be built upon as time goes on. The emotional climax is as necessary as it is expected – this sort of thing strikes me as the genre’s bread and butter. It’s kind of a comfy episode all around – the kind that builds up the feeling of “Yeah, I enjoy watching this show”, and the kind that fosters the familiarity with the characters that will allow the punches to hit harder later on.
Couple of other notes:
Tohru’s words that initially prompt Yuki & Kyo to buck up and attend the gathering are translated as “It’ll be your first visit to your parents in a while, won’t it?”, but no hint is made at all as to what such meetings might entail. The guys are implied to each have at least one living parent, because of the way their internal monologues frame their decisions as obligations to [for lack of a better term] hang out with their folks the way that Tohru no longer can with hers, but, without even foreshadowing their introductions, the sequence suggests that these parents are pretty generic people compared to the crazies that we’ve already met. Maybe the show-runners are just trying to meter out the supporting cast, but it just came off as a little weird.
Shigure continues to be best dude, as the ostensibly self-sufficient uncle character (even if he’s technically their cousin) who has the clout to not mince words with the reclusive family figurehead and still likes meddling with the youths in ways that are amusing in addition to hopefully being beneficial to their personal growth. Saki (whose first name I don’t remember hearing before now) extends her lead as best girl, but Arisa (whose first name I also don’t remember hearing before now) isn’t out of the running yet.
That’s good Shojo.