Well, this one was a bit of a misstep. It wasn’t bad, it was amusing enough, but the style of humor was very different from the norm, resulting in something decidedly more run of the mill and boring than usual.
The first half turned out to be more about wacky vending machine food than anything else. Which was certainly quirky, but not all that funny. It was just cute girls doing cute things, without any hook, and that has already been done to death in the anime world. It’s not fun anymore. The faraway and silhouette shots, which Shaft usually uses to good effect, were actually kind of ugly and only served to remind us of how much money they must be saving. And I don’t know what to make of Harue’s surprise appearance at the end of the segment, other than that maybe they wanted to get their money’s worth from Ryoko Shiraishi, as she had to be in the 2nd half of the episode.
And no sooner than I start drawing comparisons to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya does Yet the Town Keeps Going bring out a concert-at-the-culture-festival episode. I appreciate that it didn’t go the Haruhi/K-On/Angel Beats route of having (what’s supposed to be) a normal, poppy rock song, but rather stuck with the old timey whimsical tune similar to the ED. The peculiar collection of instruments certainly fit well with the whole off-mainstream feel of the song.
But they could have milked this culture festival concert story a lot more. I don’t even mean stretching it out over more episodes or even to a full episode, though either would certainly work given that over a month passes through the course of the half episode. I mean using the story to show us more interesting interactions between the protagonists. They are what have made this show entertaining, after all. Instead, the sequence of events was surprisingly straightforward. Futaba wants to perform at the culture festival. She gets a time slot at the stage. She recruits Harue on drums (with some manipulation using table tennis), learns that Toshiko and Hotori play instruments, recruits them, then they perform. Not much else.
There were many chances for humor that were simply missed or glossed over. How about that whole month when the 4 had to learn the song and practice? When did they choose to go with the maids theme, and why? Who made Futaba’s stunning outfit? Then what about the days of the actual festival? How did they spend their time? What sorts of fun misadventures did our unique heroines run into? They’re not for us to find out.
I did like how the ED sequence ended up being genuine; just as Futaba had been revealed to play the bass a couple episodes back, Hotori does play the accordion – an instrument that fits her eccentric nature, taught to her by the head maid – Toshiko does play the violin, Harue does play the drums, and they all do perform together in maid outfits. But then again, this sort of gag had been done before, in Lucky Star, with the OP sequence. Except that Kyoto Animation is much better at animation than Shaft is. As cute as the concert was, the fact that the instruments didn’t exactly match up to the music was a huge distraction. That’s just one of those things that I’ve come to expect in this post-Haruhi anime world.
So this week’s episode was lackluster, especially after the both hilarious and powerful episode it was following. In fact, it was the worst since the bland first episode. The show bounced back strong after that initial misstep and kept going to this point, so I’m hopeful that it will start hitting its marks again next week and continue on to the end.