And now it’s Ririko’s turn to shine.
(Spoilers in this review)
The Tourism Board gets involved with this matchmaking tour. The (desperate) men of Manoyama try their best to woo the three city ladies who joined said tour. As Sanae, Maki, Shiori, and Yoshino showcase the traditional Manoyama Dance, the old guy tells the city girls (and the audience) about how the dance is supposed to keep this mythical dragon that lives in Manoyama away. Shortly after the dance concludes, it begins raining and everyone ends up scrambling for cover. Yoshino’s group ends up causing the small sculpture representing the dragon in question, which is actually a water god, to fall to the ground and break. The episode ends with a burly man emerging from the water as if he was Jason sans hockey mask.
This summary doesn’t really include what Ririko does during this episode. To be honest, she doesn’t behave too much differently compared to how she usually acts (in other words, an outsider compared to the more active members of the Tourism Board). However, the audience learns enough about the girl to convince me that she’s possibly the most interesting person in the group (and it was about time, too. She’s been such a mysterious girl for 2 months by now).
For instance, we find out that Ririko actually dislikes blindly following tradition to the point that she refuses to learn how to do the Manoyama Dance. This mindset completely clashes against that of her grandmother, who heads the Board of Merchants and who champions tradition above all else.
As a result, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that’s a possible reason for Ririko to jump at the opportunity to work with the Tourism Board. After all, the Board attempts to bring new people to Manoyama without relying or being tied down by tradition. To the girl who resents holding tradition as sacred or infallible, the Tourism Board might have seemed a worthwhile cause.
However, it should be noted that the Tourism Board has had limited success. And what little success they do manage to achieve can be attributed to the group incorporating tradition instead of outright ignoring tradition. The station is set to be decorated with a considerable amount of ranma, a traditional Manoyama artform; the climatic shooting for a film makes use of an old building that is burned down and causes Manoyama to become at least somewhat known; and the Tourim Board develops a dish that makes use of kombu and soba, food that has been traditionally eaten in Manoyama for centuries.
And that is why the current Tourism Board is actually producing some results unlike the previous Tourism Board headed by the old man. Under his guidance, the Tourism Board did the same exact things. The Tourism Board demanded wooden statues of the Chupakabura to be produced (and they weren’t popular); the filming brought in the Chupakabura, which isn’t reflective of what’s unique or traditional to Manoyama; and the Board came up with this burger, which is not traditional Japanese food unlike soba, that was not well-received.
This leaves me wondering how Ririko will progress from here. Unlike the other girls, who all had high hopes or dreams when they were younger only to become disillusioned when they grew older, Ririko disliked being a slave to tradition as a young girl. It won’t be so easy to change a mindset that’s been engrained — or so I would like to say, but this is anime. Nevertheless, I find myself curious about how Ririko will end up regarding tradition while being considered “unique” for not being subservient to tradition by default.