(Spoilers in this review)
Part One: Himeno is confronted by an admirer, but she runs away before accepting his confession letter. Nozomi relentlessly asks her why she ran away, but Hime is loath to respond until she is alone with her two friends at home. It turns out Hime is insecure over the appearance of her genitals due to some mean-spirited teasing during her childhood. Nozomi decides that they’ll all show each other their genitals in order to alleviate Himeno’s lack of confidence. Himeno does end up accepting the guy’s letter later on, but it turns out he’s incredibly superficial and writes about her breasts being big and beautiful.
Part Two: Nozomi is receiving some study help from Kyoko and Himeno because her exam scores are terrible and she might be forced to repeat a grade. The typical “I won’t use this subject in real life” complaints are tossed around. After Nozomi seems to spot a UFO, the girls talk about how there are these Antarcticans (aka snake people who live in Antarctica).
A very careless session of browsing through comments left at a
more popular different blog allowed me to learn about the bodily exploration scenario depicted in the first half of this episode. I had been dreading seeing it animated for a few weeks now, but I deem it to have been handled decently. Perhaps it wasn’t poignant, but it also wasn’t offensive.
I (dare I say it) r e s o n a t e d with this scene to a degree. Due to my cultural heritage as an Asian male, I have personally experienced discriminatory remarks regarding the size and girth of my genitals as well as my supposed inability to please bedside lovers. So much like Himeno, I have felt shame over that particular region. I know better now these days, but the pang of being labeled as inadequate by peers and strangers alike is still very raw and vivid. As such, I feel like others who been hurt by such comments in their personal lives could relate to this scene, which was actually an earnest attempt to address real life issues without jamming notions of enforced equality down our throats.
Be that as it may, the build-up to said scene felt forced (really? A confession letter instantly made you think of your genitals, Himeno? You aren’t even dating this person) as well as implication that males are inherently superficial (nearly every single male character in this series has been depicted as such thus far) weakens the segment. But it would have been strange if Himeno, Nozomi, and Kyoko started showing each other theirs with no sort of prompting, so I guess a forced reason is better than nothing.
While I would like to dismiss the second part of the episode as being cliché due to how the girls just happen to talk about Antarctians only for one to transfer into their class the following day, I think there are some good things to be gleamed from this segment if I squint. For all this talk about equality, the characters within this series simply can’t resist judging others based on their appearance. Although Himeno has been consistently characterized as a nice and gentle girl, she can’t help but recoil as she stares at the Antarctian. If such a kind girl is prone to acting like this, what are the chances that less-than-polite characters will treat others on the basis of the content of their disposition and not their outward physical appearance? Perhaps some competent social commentary is actually in store for once.