The school cultural festival is upon us, and it’s time for the almost-but-not-quite-a-theater-club to put on their play. In some ways it feels like it’s taken us a while to get here, yet in others it seems like it should be way too soon for Hinako to be ready for the stage. Or so I thought before watching this episode. It seems our little scarecrow has some surprises for me after all.
With the cultural festival on hand it isn’t merely the theater kids who are putting on a show, of course. Basically every class and every club has an obligation to do something for a school festival, and the day beforehand the halls are filled with students rushing around putting up decorations in and around classrooms, in the halls, on the grounds, and otherwise making all sorts of last-minute preparations. Hinako, Kuina, and Yua’s class is doing a haunted house, although it seems our girls aren’t participating due to their focus on their club activities. Mayuki’s class is holding a maid cafe, although I can’t blame Hinako and Kuina for not figuring it out from her outfit. Sorry, Mayu-chan, but you wear a maid outfit all the time. There’s no reason why anyone would attach special meaning to you wearing one now.
The theater rehearsal the day before the festival is very interesting, as it shows us more of Hinako’s personal talent in regards to acting. Certainly her choice of focusing solely on her own lines and cues is unusual. However, it allows her to become one with her character to a degree that would be pretty much impossible if she let other character’s identities into her mind. She can respond to the cues instinctively, without even having to think about where she is or what she needs to say, and for her that is definitely what works best. It gives her a degree of mental separation from the audience, keeping her from even getting into the mindset where she might freeze up. Of course, the fact that she has at least one of her birds hiding in her hair whispering her lines to her doesn’t hurt either. But still, this is impressive. This may be part of the same method acting that she showed herself to be good at previously: she assumes the role completely, immersing herself into it and becoming it. And in fact deviating from this is what nearly ruins things for them, when, after Yua expresses disbelief that Hinako can get by with only memorizing her own part, Hinako spends the night looking over the rest of the script and reading everyone else’s parts. All the extra material screws up her method and she loses track of what she’s supposed to do. It takes some desperate last-minute cramming on Hinako, Kuina, and Yua’s part to set things right again.
I would be lax if I didn’t mention Kuina’s special segment on the day of the festival. As we all know by now, Kuina loves food. She really really loves food. So, not only does she try out every item at every food stall in order to find the best ones so she can buy more of those and bring them back to share with her friends, she also goes to every class and club-run restaurant in the school and tries out every item on their menus in order to find the best selections. And all of this is before she gets back to Hinako and Yua with her specially chosen samples (that she eats along with them), which she introduces to them to the “epic” sound of an orchestra of kazoos playing Also Sprach Zarathustra. It is definitely the funniest scene in the episode, although it really does raise some troubling questions. Where in the name of all that is holy does she put all that food? She eats enough for 50 people, and yet her stomach still growls seconds later when she thinks about something else she finds tasty. It’s like there’s a portal into the void inside her stomach or something.
During the play, everything seems to be going well, until poor Yua who messes up: having misplaced the prop handkerchief that is key to one scene. Of course it happens because she was so focused on helping Hinako that she didn’t pay close enough attention to her own equipment, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s the one who messes up. Fortunately, Hinako’s quick improvisation, and Mayu-chan’s willingness to step up despite her own fear, manage to smooth things over and make it all work out. And honestly they all perform really well: you wouldn’t think several of these kids are beginners. Still Yua feels really guilty when it’s all over, and she sincerely apologizes to Hinako for having acted so arrogant towards her.
This is a good episode. Seeing the girls act on the stage really feels nice, since it finally feels like they’re doing proper theater stuff. On the other hand, there has been very little technical theater content here. This isn’t really a behind the scenes view into stage performance, but rather just a view of the lives of a group of girls, who happen to be particularly interested in performing on stage. Now we’ve gotten through the major performance that the school group has been working on and the show is only half over. Given the discussion at the end I assume and hope that the Hitotose Theater Troupe will be getting more focus from here on out, as the girls haven’t managed to do anything with it yet. That’s a completely different sort of venue and likely a different type of performance than the ones done by the school’s club. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with it.
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