How would you rate episode 9 of
Anime-Gataris, more like Top 10 Anime Betrayals, am I right? Everything went topsy-turvy in “The Anime Club: Forever Snobs,” where the status quo was so inverted that I wondered if Minoa would wake up at the end and say it was all a dream. Even a shocking heel turn isn’t enough to justify just how bizarre Minoa’s school life has become. There are a lot of great jokes and references, but with this episode, Anime-Gataris has bitten off more than it can chew.
I was almost prepared for this to be the first episode not to start with a cold open of Yui’s fanservice—when nine minutes in, they finally dropped in that gag. This tendency to subvert the audience’s expectations echoed throughout the episode as odd or unusual things continued to occur. For starters, all the other school clubs are lining up to solicit advice from the anime club, whose members are ripping their guidance directly from sports and battle anime. (A lot of the fake titles were repeats, so I guess my favorite this week would be Timbre! French Horn AKA Sound! Euphonium.) With the student council president home sick, the anime club is ostensibly without detractors. Instead, they are adored by a loving student body and even the general public—why else would they be getting a TV interview focused on them? (“The TV…that thing that sends us anime?” Kai asks excitedly in an especially funny moment.)
Only Minoa seems to think something is off about real life and anime beginning to converge. When the martial arts club builds a pyramid to duel on, a new club based on simultaneous go and volleyball is formed, and the robotics club makes Yui some jet-powered boots (just like Iida’s from My Hero Academia!) so she can beat her high jump record, only Minoa wonders if this is a bad thing. “Is it all so weird that you feel like the only sane one?” a literal talking cat asks her in one of Anime-Gataris‘ trademark meta gags. Aside from many of these anime-inspired feats being impossible, they also constitute cheating. I don’t know what the “Forever Snobs” of the title means, but perhaps it refers to the club getting too inflated in the court of public opinion for its own good?
And then: betrayal. Since an early episode where a male student was standing outside the door listening to Minoa and Neko-senpai chat, I knew somebody else understood the cat as well, but I didn’t suspect that this person might also have evil intentions. When Nakano reveals this episode that he can understand Neko-senpai, there’s almost no fanfare. For a while, I thought they were setting up a romantic connection between Nakano and Minoa, especially when Neko-senpai insists “Go have him cheer you up” at sunset. Talk about a missed signal, I guess. It was all just setup for Nakano to explain his worldview: “Anime’s making everyone happy. It’s a happy ending.” Considering Nakano’s actions to sabotage the anime club immediately after this speech, I’m not sure he has his story straight.
Nakano’s betrayal is a microcosm of Anime-Gataris‘ shtick. It tosses out a slough of anime references on the meta level and then executes a trope so recognizably anime that we remember this isn’t just commentary, but a textbook anime story itself. This back-and-forth subversion of audience expectations is fascinating, but it can also be exhausting. It keeps me guessing, but it ends at a reveal so typical that I’m not sure if we’re supposed to take it at face value or if it’s a meta-observation that didn’t quite stick the landing. I guess we’ll find out next week!
Anime-Gataris is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.