Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 04

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When the first episode aired, and it was pretty much the characters showing off their powers, I thought “This is probably a show whose looks will be its meal ticket this season.” There wasn’t a whole lot to it besides looking fantastic, and even that’s a first-episode standby to lure people in, only to disappoint when the budget runs dry.

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We start off with the gang utilizing Chifuyu’s powers…for cosplay

Well, a quarter of the way in, I’m proud to report that I’d watch (and highly rate) InoBato even if it didn’t look as great as it did; purely on its comedic and dramatic chops its exhibited these past three weeks. Though yeah, I’m glad it looks as great as it does; that certainly doesn’t hurt. :) And mind, you that’s despite the fact the show has not gone down the road of giving the Lit Club a world-saving mission, or even explaining how they got their powers.

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Instead, it’s focused on smaller, more personal stories that flesh the characters out, If there is bigger, more epic stuff in store down the road, it’s a good move to develop everyone now. But even if the world-saving aspect never pans out, I’m still invested in Jurai, Mirei, Tomoyo, and now, thanks to this week, Chifuyu too.

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That’s not an easy feat, as unlike Jurai, I’m not a lolicon (I prefer older ladies, actually). Chifuyu has always been the odd person out; a grade schooler hanging out in a high school club…why? Well, we eventually find out; but not until after we get a story about Chifuyu clashing with her friend because, bingo, she hangs out with high schoolers too much.

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Actually, I really didn’t need any convincing coming into this episode that Chifuyu was a worthwhile character and not just a cute face and voice — precisely because she hangs with high schoolers. Both in the past and this week she’s balanced her uniquely (among the club members) childish way of looking at the world with a calm stoicism beyond her years. But when she refuses to reveal the club’s secret to her best same-age friend Kuki Madoka, it opens a rift between them, one that even Chifuyu’s powers over matter and energy can’t repair.

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Enter Guiltia sin Jurai, Chuuni Knight. At the end of the day, these are grade schoolers who like each other and want to remain friends, so all he has to do is give Kuki a little nudge. But his plan for creating that nudge is, well, uniquely Jurai, something I can say having seen him in action. He knows confessing to Kuki as a rabid lolicon will further degrade her opinion of him (even though she’s already seen him in Chifuyu’s bedroom in nothing but his boxers, which…long story), but it also serves to provide Kuki with a valid explanation for why Chifuyu kept a secret from her.

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Chifuyu and her aunt, faculty member Satomi-sensei, arrive right on cue for the very simple but still cute process of grade-schoolers making-up. Jurai sighs a sigh of relief and he and Satomi look on at the youngins, probably envious of how simple friendships are at that age. Even so, they’re no less powerful at contributing to happiness.

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But wait…didn’t Chifuyu say she was dropping out of school last week? Well, turns out she meant to say she was devoting herself studying extra hard so she could skip grades, with the goal of “catching up” to Jurai, which could be construed as a remark on how Jurai’s stuck in the eighth grade (Chuunibyou), and a desire to court him…once she’s old enough.The other girls confer and giggle with glee at Jurai’s expense.

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And then, only after the episode comprehensively justified Chifuyu’s character and her presence in the club, to the point where it really didn’t matter how she ended up there, we learn that too, as Satomi-sensei left her in the Lit Club’s care while both she and her sister, Chifuyu’s mother, were busy. It’s a very brief but effective montage, they gradually coax her out of her shell. Between that day and the present, all of them got superpowers, which makes them more than just a club, but a family.

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Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 03

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InoBato isn’t just an above-average chuunibyou-infused random school club harem comedy, it’s an above-average chuunibyou-infused random school club harem that has found a way to weaponize its dialogue into a fearsome weapon of mass engrossment, education, and entertainment. It made me laugh, but it also made me think, and let me tell you, that’s a hard thing to get me to do on a Monday night!

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This was an episode split into several diverse scenarios, but the theme running through them all was the exploration and analysis of the language being used. Words that can mean one thing can mean something else entirely depending on who said or read them and who’s reading or listening. I know full well the interpretation of words isn’t infinite, but sometimes it can seem that way.

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Jurai starts by having to defend to his teacher the translating of English sentences on his test to Japanese using florid kanji just because “it’s cooler that way.” And the teacher can’t mark them incorrect, because they aren’t! Or take what happens when he and his anime-loving rival Sagami have a heated debate, and the teacher gets the total opposite idea of what they’re talking about!

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Wordplay aside, I really liked the brief exchange Jurai and Sagami had after the teacher kicked them out of the lounge. Here are, truth be told, two ladies’ men, but of very different kinds. Sagami gets love letters, meets girls after school, and receives confessions; he’s a bit of a romantic nomad. Jurai, meanwhile, is a nester, with a clubroom full of girls he shares a very close bond with, now that they all have powers.

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“Sounding cool” also applies to conversation as much as writing, as demonstrated as Jurai, in a serious tennis stance and a cool smirk, declares to Kohata “I’ll show you a terrifying nightmare! Just no overhand serves, okay? They’re too fast for me to return.” Back to writing: Sayumi tricked him into writing “Bloody Vivre” instead of “Bible” on his dark journal, which just happens to have been purchased at a Vivre store.

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When Jurai forgets his “Vivre” and tells the girls to go ahead without him, they have a little conversation of their own that wouldn’t have been possible if he’d been there: they each earnestly describe what Jurai has done for each of them to help them now that they have powers. Whether it’s telling Sayumi never to even consider bringing back the dead, or warning Chifuyu not to try to create life, Jurai has helped set boundaries that will protect their lives and sanity – serious business when they themselves don’t know those boundaries.

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On a smaller scale, years ago he changed Hatoko’s nickname from “Yakitori-chan” (since Kushikawa can translate to “skewer skin”) to something dorkier so other kids would be too embarrassed to tease her. The bottom line is, he’s done a lot for them, even if most of the time it looks like he’s just messing around.

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When Jurai, AKA Guiltia Sin Jurai, returns to school for his vivre, he bumps into someone I initially thought was him from the future, or from another dimension. Turns out it’s an alumnus by he name of Kiryuu Hajime, AKA Kiryuu Heldkaiser Luci First, and its immediately clear after a few minutes with this more verbose version of Date from SKET Dance that Jurai is in the presence of a Chuuni Pro, were such a profession possible. Even Jurai himself starts to look at himself as a dabbler by comparison, while Kiryuu seems to be Living the Dream! and on a quest to attain some kind of nirvana where your speech becomes nigh indecipherable.

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Oh, and he’s also Tomoyo’s runaway older half-brother, surprise! That aspect of who he is is revealed so masterfully; as he goes off on a very good rant about the essence of Chuunibyou as he sees it: the “unresolved paradox of self-denial and self-affirmation”, or Endless Paradox which as it turns out is a nickname he gave his sister Tomoyo. Before he splits, Kiryuu tells Tomoyo in as cool and forceful a manner as he can muster: “When you go home, tell our father this…’send living expenses for this month too.” Denial and affirmation indeed!

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That Tomoyo’s brother is a Chuuni, and an even more advanced one than Jurai, speaks volumes about Tomoyo herself and her relationship to Jurai. Before he’s “more than a friend”, he’s her friend, period, and something of a surrogate brother. She’s comfortable talking about her family life and what happened with Kiryuu, even though he gives her an out. And as close a bond of kinship as Jurai felt, and as many words as he said to him, not one was about his sister and the others having real powers.

But still, as Jurai says, Kiryuu really is incredible…

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…for casually leaving him with the entire bill.

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