Check-in Station: Love Lab ep5 (proficiency is the key!)
This was an ambitious episode. With the looming problem of how the student council was going to discretely get the results of their love research to their client addressed, it was now just a matter of putting Riko’s ambitious plan into action. A classic case of things being easier said than done. But after all, all they have to do is hijack the school broadcast without permission, and without any of the teachers interfering with their weird broadcast. And since a “genius’ like Riko was planning it, then I’m sure it will go off without a hitch, right?
Well, the answer is a resounding yes… and no. With a three-part plan revolving around deception, distraction and interference, it was up to Natsuo and Yuiko to get to the mics and deliver the message. They did this by relying completely on Natsuo’s trustworthy status, much to Yuiko’s chagrin. As they began the broadcast, cleverly (somewhat) delivering their message via a faux English conversation lesson, the distraction part of the plan was underway. Suzu and Sayori were sent to the teacher’s lounge. Suzu was used as a sort of irresistible honey to the teachers who found her innocent clumsiness too adorable to ignore. Sayori was there for insurance, as someone who would be able to quickly pull them out of the situation. And finally the interference portion of the exercise, Riko was to stop anyone from getting into the broadcast to interrupt. Unfortunately for her, it was her homeroom teacher, and also her arch-nemesis Ms. Sakagami who were there to take her on. Riko was able to perform her task, but not without first being reprimanded by Sakagami, and being forced to promise to score twenty points higher on her next English exam.
Riko’s effort to take a bullet for the whole council was something she hadn’t told the others, but it was something that Sayori was able to notice through a window. Though she was able to mostly keep her mouth shut while everyone celebrated. Still, even that celebration didn’t last very long when everyone found out how badly Riko needed to improve her English score. This leads Natsuo of course, to dive head long into helping her linguistically invalid friend. And while at the library picking up study material, she runs into Ms. Sakagami. And through their conversation, she learns what Riko’s done. This encounter leads Ms. Sakagami to consider apologizing to Riko, and to Natsuo reprimanding Riko for trying to take on all the blame by herself.
After a lot of goofiness, and studying, and awkwardly erotic cross-dressing from Natsuo, Riko is actually able to bring her score up to a “respectable” level.
The next major event for the student council (there was a lot of goofiness to skip over) is when they receive a response from the girl they helped with the broadcast. It looks like she was initially unsuccessful, but hasn’t given up hope, yet. The guy has a crush on someone else, but he doesn’t have a girlfriend, yet.
Meanwhile, it looks like the student council’s audacious broadcast has caught the attention of two new inquisitive girls….
End of episode.
Wow! This episode got deeper and more emotional than I was expecting. We’re still in kiddie pool territory mind you, but we got some real, earnest emotion here. I believe that emotion came from three areas.
One, we see that Riko has had quite the struggle academically in school. We find out that not only is she horrible at her English studies, but that there may be one or two areas where she’s even worse! She may be out of her depth at this all-girls academy. And it makes me want to know exactly what her reasons were for cramming so hard to get into this academy. At the very least, it begs backstory that may or may not involve her horrible history with boys.
Two, there’s Natsuo’s emotional outburst at Riko for not letting her friends help her. It’s a good lesson to learn, not taking on too much responsibility when you have friends who can and will help. Maybe I have a soft spot for the smart idiot Natsuo, or maybe it really is a good message.
And three, it’s the story of the girl who asked for their help. It’s nice to see something being followed through. I enjoyed how the show let you wallow in her initial defeat, as everyone sort of mourned the loss of the girl’s love as she says she met an “honorable defeat”. And then on the next page of the letter, she lifts everyone’s spirits as she talks about not losing hope or giving up. Coupled with this episode still being funny, it was a nice surprise. Through these first five episodes, I’ve happily found a silly, fun and easy to watch show that I look forward to experiencing every week. What a pleasant surprise.