It’s not all that uncommon for an anime to come along that appeals to all three of us here at RABUJOI, be it the military action and combat I love, magical milieus that are Preston’s purview, or Zane’s favored school, romance, and comedy themes. TG35 is one of those shows.
This week was definitely a Zane Week, focusing on the relationships and motivations of the characters while bringing the unlikely Saionji Usagi into the dramatic spotlight. This episode excelled at all of those things, enough so that I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the lack of action. That action will surely come when the Witch-Hunting Festival begins in earnest.
Usagi is in a bind: unlike Ootori and Mari, she doesn’t have a dark past, but a dark future: in order to capitalize on her heiress status and due to her bad grades, Usagi’s “family” wants to marry her off as soon as possible, so they’re pulling her out of Taimadou in a month. Worse, her fiancee is Executive Committee Chairman Tenmyoji Reima.
Watching how he treats a clearly overwhelmed and hyperventilating Usagi, it’s clear this is not a nice guy. He calls her a “belonging” and says “he can’t wait” for her to be his forever. Gross. Now, Takeru is a dense mofo, but he knows something’s not right, and when she faints, he watches over her dutifully, and makes it clear he’ll do everything in his power to help her.
I wouldn’t have guessed the show was going to suddenly shine a light and give dimension to Usagi, who had been mostly comic relief up to this point, but the episode succeeds in efficiently getting her dilemma out and showing both how it weighs on her and how unwilling she is to drag her platoon mates into it.
When Takeru doesn’t want Usagi to be alone that night, he invites her to his place, which in her current state of mind she takes entirely the wrong way. Takeru’s intentions are as pure as ever, but as she bathes, she considers having a child with him so that she can be freed of her contract with Reima. Something tells me he wouldn’t care either way, but she’s a desperate young woman, and would rather her first be Takeru than that creep.
Unfortunately, she makes her surprisingly touching advance (asking him to spare her further embarrassment and get on with it) just as the other platoon-mates Takeru invited over help themselves in, and while the haremy reaction and gang-beating is pretty pat, I still loved the very true-to-character lines delivered by Mari (You already have me!), Ootori (I can’t believe you stooped this low!), and Suginami (Why didn’t you invite me?!).
Also, the enmity doesn’t last but for a moment. Once the others hear Usagi out, they understand the situation and want to help as much as Takeru. Not because Usagi is a delicate little flower they like keeping around, but because she’s goddamn family; a girl who’s saved all their lives many times, who is essential to the platoon’s success and happiness. She needs to get it in her head that she’s worth all the effort they pledge to put into rescuing her.
How will they do that? Not by having Takeru marry her, but by winning enough points in the festival and getting her grades up high enough that the Saionji’s will reconsider pulling her. It’s a long shot, but like I said, she’s worth it. They’ll have the four members of the 23rd Platoon assisting them.
On the other side, we learn both through the president who lost most of her team and from the last shot of the episode, that Reima is more than just the organizer of the festival and a creep who aims to “own” Usagi—he could also be a form of the demon Mephistopheles, classically a soul-collecting servant of Satan. Bring him down, 35th. Do it for Usagi…and for money Takeru can use to pay off his parents’ debts.