Adventures in goddess-sitting.
This is a very easygoing episode. Even though it has the chase scenes that PriPara has come to love including when anything gets even slightly out of hand, the majority of it is spent outside of the city-state of idols in the park. A welcome change of pace from the usual idol politics the show has been spending its time on. So what brings the members of Solami Smile to the park?
Jululu has learned to walk. After getting herself to stand upright on Lala’s bed, Solami is overjoyed and bring her to the park so she can practice walking. This eventually turns into rolling which turns into the aforementioned chase scene, but it’s a sweet moment. While I question its inclusion in an idol show, it’s hard to deny that child-raising has been a major subgenre of anime for a while. Even this season’s Sweetness & Lightning has elements of it, though Tsugumi is obviously older than Jululu. All this talk of parental love eventually careens into an episode about love in general, featuring several failed confessions from various minor characters.
One of my favorite moments is where the art style is changed up, and Mirei imagines Jululu leaping into her arms like a romance manga. This may be the style of an actual tie-in manga, but since I don’t live in Japan and would only secretly pick up such a manga, I can’t exactly confirm it. Any chance to play around with the art style is welcome – it’s one of the flexible things that animation is best suited for.
The B-plot of the episode involves Akiko Akita, a girl who looks like a female version of Amamiya, and has a crush on him which she ends up confessing while he’s inside a giant kappa mascot suit. That she looks so like him is strange – it makes me think of Milhouse’s parents in The Simpsons. But it fits with the theme of the episode, and Amamiya is so dedicated to his love of Mirei that he turns her down, in a way where both parties leave happy. That she was able to say it drives in the “love” theme of the episode.
There’s also a new Making Drama from Solami, with a really nice autumn/butterfly/moon/sakura petals thing going for it. It’s a very Japanese idea of what fall is like. It leads to a cute stinger at the end of the episode where Non berates her sister for going with something butterfly-themed. It means she’s stomping on Junon’s territory… even though Non hasn’t assumed the guise of Junon since her secret was blown. Or done any idol performances at all. She’s protective of her brand, and idolship is all about the branding. To a degree. That sounds vaguely social media-y and weird, forget I said that.
It’s a pleasant little episode that was clearly meant to be a breather before the show gets back into the Hibiki and Non plotlines. Two idol units that have yet to fully form, each of which could easily pose a threat to the main groups. Once they do form, we’ll have five idol groups, all consisting of main (or at least secondary) characters in play. I don’t know if the Divine outfit has enough pieces for all of them to win one. Though I do expect all the teams to win at least one piece in the order of fairness.
The return of an old friend. A character who once served as a sounding board for exposition rises to become a major secondary character, and the winds blow in the direction of a new idol unit about to be born.