One evening during dinner, Kobato expresses her frustration with Kodaka spending so much time with his club activities. The next morning, she awakens to find Kodaka already hard at work in the kitchen preparing dish after dish of sumptuous side dishes. She is thrilled at first to see so much quality food but becomes sullen and leaves the room when Kodaka again mentions some of it is reserved for Maria.
At school, Kodaka finds Maria eating yet another bag of chips, courtesy of Yozora, which she has been stockpiling in a cabinet in the room.
Insisting she eat proper food, he hands her the bento he brought for her and comments how Maria reminds him of Kobato when she was younger. Curious, Maria confirms that Kodaka in fact has a younger sister and gushes how he seems like an older brother type. As Kodaka leaves to return to his classroom, Maria addresses him as “onii-chan,” taking him by surprise.
Yozora notices Kodaka’s lunchtime routine has changed recently; and when Maria arrives she thanks Kodaka “onii-chan” effusively for the delicious lunch he prepared, criticizing Yozora’s chips in the process. Her complaint earns her a withering stare, ending Maria’s rant. When Rika inquires about Maria’s sudden familial familiarity, Kodaka can only sheepishly explain Maria has unofficially adopted him as an older brother figure.
In the midst of yet another one of her gaming sessions, Sena casually gives voice to her wish to live in a game world; and seeing Yozora’s reaction, she is mortified to find she has carelessly revealed a secret desire.
Rika tells Sena she has perhaps the next best thing: a Beta version of an upcoming release being developed by one of the software companies she programs for – Romancing Saga XIV (Beta version) from Largehard, a multiplayer 3D RPG boasting virtual gameplay via means of a panoramic headset and controller. When the game loads and everyone has finished selecting their characters, the club members realize the appeal and effectiveness of their chosen job classes vary considerably, with Kodaka coming out on bottom as the weakest link:
Poor Kodaka. His “wizard” character is so lame and, according to Rika (in a blatant parody of FF X-2’s Gunner Yuna), is actually nothing more than a 30-year-old virgin. Too make matters worse, he has no magic ability, rendering him completely useless. I wonder how much research is actually necessary to find THE composite, stereotypical depiction of the average otaku.
Sena’s blacksmith. It seems the team at Largehard failed to properly account for players of Sena’s endowment and ran out of sarashi for the character model. Not that I’m complaining.
Isn’t the fact that Yozora chose a job class like “Rose Girl” coupled with the gleeful bouncing she did over her costume sort of telling about certain hidden aspects of her personality? Still, Yozora is Yozora, feeling no compunction over tricking Sena into meeting her untimely demise at the hands of the final boss.
And then we have Samurai Yukimura, redeeming a measure of manhood in compensation for wearing a maid’s uniform all day; and Maria, ostensibly a cleric, cosplaying as some character from a series whose side story proved more popular than the main anime. Thus outfitted, the party enters the last dungeon of the game after only a single enemy encounter’s worth of experience to their credit. No grinding allowed. It’s only a beta after all. Because the boss is in essence invincible, the entire party is wiped out one by one, netting the dreaded Bad Ending.
CLUB ACTIVITY: Romancing Saga XIV (Beta)
RESULT: FAILED (失敗)
Turns out when “Maria” snapped out of her stupor to save the day it was actually Kobato. Tired of only getting Kodaka’s leftover time, she has come to the clubroom to find out why he spends so much time there and see what the Neighbors Club is all about. Maria awakens and rushes over to Kodaka “onii-chan.” Seeing someone she doesn’t know taking her brother as their own doesn’t particularly sit well with Kobato, and she takes the opportunity to express her displeasure in the most mature, civilized way possible: by calling Maria an idiot. Kiddy meltdowns are never pretty, and this one is no exception. Although Maria staunchly opposes it, Kobato officially joins the club with Yozora’s approval. That night, Kobato sneaks into Kodaka’s room as he sleeps, lying next to him, comforting herself with the knowledge Kodaka is her brother.
I love the priceless Index and OreImo references.
While the fantasy sequences are entertaining and provide a suitable vehicle for the good majority of the jokes, this episode’s club activity felt longer than in previous episodes. At any rate, I’m glad to see Kobato move up from being relegated to a mere couple minutes’ worth of brief at-home scenes to a more prominent supporting role within the main cast. Anything that nets Hanazawa Kana more screentime is fine by me.
Kodaka doesn’t seem like a thoughtless older sibling, although he does appear somewhat more distant and distracted than at the beginning of the series. It’s clear Kobato definitely has some insecurity on her part and she needs some validation and comfort from her only sibling, especially since she has already created an alternate personality as a coping mechanism.
Heads up, Kodaka.