Literally everything cooked so far in this show has been a disaster. I feel tricked.
|Nothing like dead moms to get you into the Christmas spirit|
There wasn’t much Poco or Souta this week, but it was still a decent episode. It was actually kind of nice to see things centred around the side cast for a change (aside from Hiroshi, who’s kind of annoying). I think this show has done a good job building up Rinko and Nakajima as interesting people living their own lives. By which I mean, all of the action doesn’t happen when they’re with Souta. It may seem like an obvious thing that people have lives, but I find that a lot of time in anime, side characters only have important moments happen in the presence of the main character. It’s like they don’t have anything to do other than hang out with MC, and they can only reach an epiphany in the presence of MC. Their lives outside of their meaning/relationship to the main character is usually ignored.
Rinko and Nakajima are just off doing their own thing though. It’s nice. Rinko is her own woman, and she decides to have a kid without really talking to Souta about it. After becoming fond of Poco, the cogs start churning in her head, and she changes her mind. It was probably more like a final push than the main deciding factor, as she seemed a bit on the fence about it during her past conversation with Souta. We don’t see her come to this decision – it just sort of happens offscreen as her life continues along. It’s only when she confesses this to Nakajima that the cat’s let out of the bag.
This leads to her being super insecure about becoming a mother. She can’t cook, she’s not good with kids, and she has no idea what to expect. She only just decided she wanted one, so it’s all quite daunting. This makes her blow up a little more than usual when Souta dings her for her atrocious cooking “skills.” I found this scene to be a little too dramatic, like they thought maybe we’d forgive a grown-ass woman storming out of her family’s house from bad cooking because of…hormones? The death anniversary maybe? Whatever the case, it still felt like a lame excuse to get Nakajima and Rinko alone.
Not everyone is cut out to be on Shokugeki no Soma
Despite the shaky set-up, the resulting heart-to-heart was very sweet and honest. I like that Nakajima casually admitted that he used to have a crush while Rinko casually confirmed that she probably knew about it. It wasn’t awkward or creepy at all. Nakajima reacts with just the right amount of pouting when Rinko curtly comments on his past feelings. Nakajima is also really happy when he hears the pregnancy news, so he’s obviously not holding onto that one-sided crush (thank god). It’s just really sweet all around.
One downside of this decision to make Rinko have a child is that it runs the risk of undermining the whole “you can do whatever you want with your life – kids or no – and it’s fine as long as you’re happy!” thing I really liked from the early episodes. Rinko had no kids, but that was depicted as a perfectly reasonable choice. Likewise, Nakajima showed no interest in marriage or kids, and Souta understood that. The show was very real about showing how these two felt a bit guilty because they were going against the societal norm, and how just doing what you want can be stressful if it’s not what everyone else thinks you should want.
But now Rinko suddenly wants a kid and Nakajima is attending marriage interviews. Rinko alone caving into wanting kids is okay, but now I’m scared Nakajima’s going to end up finding a wife and inevitably having kids. Then the whole show will suddenly be this sugar-coated message that “you can do what you want…but it’s better if you have a family”. It would be a huge step back to say that everyone eventually wants a normal, nuclear family if they just wait long enough. I guess having a single dad raising a tanuki is as progressive as it gets.
Oh, speaking of tanuki (almost forgot, since he wasn’t in many scenes), I liked that moment near the end where Poco activates some previously hidden tanuki powers! Wow! He should have shown those off earlier! It was totally unexpected, and added a nice magical element to the show that hasn’t been present much…which is oddly scarcefor a show that’s about an adopted mythical creature (well, tanuki are real, but they don’t transform). It was a nice touch to wrap up Rinko’s pregnancy announcement, as well as get Souta excited about making udon again. With a few episodes left, will he have time to make a dish that doesn’t taste like chewy balls of rice? Only time will tell…
What other powers does this furball have???