While I always enjoy This Art Club Has a Problem!, it doesn’t always make me laugh out loud. That’s the highest praise I can give this week’s episode: the whole first part kept me giggling. It’s a classic “misunderstandings escalate” premise: Maria informs the impressionable (and apparently very innocent) Colette that she’s heard the fabled Necronomicon is hidden somewhere on campus, so the two of them are going to look for it. Colette, not being versed in the ways of Lovecraft, basically gets “forbidden book with foreign name” out of it and shares that with Yumeko-sensei, who doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not a real book. In any case, this coincides with the resurfacing of the porn magazine “treasure” from the club’s hunt last week, leading to a terrible misunderstanding of what people are looking for, especially since no one can get the word “Necronomicon” right. Who knew it could sound like “Neko Milk” to someone? Or worse, that would be the name of a story in a porn mag?
This isn’t the most original story the show’s ever done or even the episode with the best character interactions, but it captures the increasing hysteria of Usami and Uchimaki as they try to hide the magazine so well that it’s almost funny in a nostalgic way. We can all remember some dumb thing we turned into a major Event in middle school. Add to that Maria and Colette’s investment in their game (although to be fair, Colette may not realize that it is one), and this is a segment that really captures being thirteen or fourteen rather than the pop culture view of it – sure, you have crushes and think you’re all grown up, but something like a mystical tome or a dirty magazine can still evoke a more childlike importance. Middle schoolers still play like the kids they are, and this segment gets that across.
Interestingly enough, this week’s three-section episode gets weaker with each mini-story, although I admit that the ending, “A Moe Walk,” is simply not my cup of tea as it chronicles the adorable interactions of Moeka and the Club President, when she shows up on campus to see her grandpa and bumps into a class-skipping Pres. It’s cute but nothing special, particularly in the context of this episode.
The middle segment brings back Uchimaki’s would-be rival, Nameless Guy (he still doesn’t get to introduce himself), for a rematch in the clubroom. Mildly undaunted by the fact that Uchimaki doesn’t really remember him, Nameless Guy agrees to a contest where they both take ten minutes to draw Usami, only to be thwarted by an attack of hormones. Annoyed at Uchimaki laughing at her “cute pose,” Usami encourages his rival, so flustering the poor guy that he can’t get it together. If this was a longer show, this could be the beginning of some more love geometry – and it may be in the source manga. With only a few episodes left, it still makes for a pretty funny one-off joke, especially when our lovestruck fellow sits in his empty classroom after school, replaying everything Usami said and suddenly realizing that one thing was definitely worrisome. In terms of the series as a whole, this segment did a nice job showing how comfortable Usami and Uchimaki’s relationship has gotten – and for those of us rooting for them as a couple, it also lets us know that Uchimaki may be more aware of her as a girl than he thinks, even if she is a 3D one.
It’s worth bringing up the eyecatches this week; they’re usually little continuations of the story we just saw, and although this week’s are no exception, they are especially good, particularly for the first and last segments. In fact, the final eyecatch is a little better than the actual story it follows; Moeka apparently snuck out of the house to find her grandfather, so the end card shows that her mom has put her on a leash. Meanwhile, the card for the first segment reminds me of the sort of naïve little middle schooler (and high schooler, if we’re being honest) that I was – Colette may have wanted the magazine, but she apparently had no idea what it was actually about.
Sometimes it’s all about the little moments. Given the preview for episode ten, which appears to be trying it’s best to make us think that something major is going to happen, there should be quite a few of those little moments ahead for our little club.