Indeed.

As a result of her ‘trial’, Kanako had totally forgotten about school exams and thus didn’t study, thus getting incredibly poor marks. After she runs her mouth off a bit about her previously unmentioned sister and the school she goes to, she decides to get down to studying. She isn’t able to concentrate very well with her rampant imagination, however, particularly in noticing the new girl who has joined the archery club.
To punish her laziness, Dorm Mistress sends her to a ‘special place’ for a while to study and when she returns she has changed quite a bit. But the length of her hair isn’t all that has changed, in her short absence Ame no Kisaki has been gripped by a few ridiculous fads.
The card games make a reappearance, with a japanese history table top card game suddenly being a requirement for the school…

...just so you know!

...is it just me, or does Kanako look really 90s-anime here?

Mariya looks so ridiculously cute here...

er...

It pains me to say it…but the gulf between Maria+Holic and Maria+Holic Alive has never been as evident as it is here. The former was cemented as one of my favourite school-based anime comedies, but this sequel really is lacking in a lot of areas, in a way that feels uncomfortably similar to the Minami-ke fiasco. (Of course, Maria+Holic Alive is still leagues and leagues ahead of Minami-ke Okawari)
All of the episodes so far have been alright but with some evident flaws, but this one seemed to contain all those main flaws the second series has had so far (with the exception of the ‘dragging on too long’ one, but that’s because the focus kept changing so abruptly it was almost disconcerting). The comedy in this episode was quite weak overall and felt incredibly recycled, and the characters seemed like pale and lifeless imitations of themselves. (With the exception of Ryuuken, who has interestingly been given a lot more love in this series) Was there a different director to normal…? But the most glaring problem, to me at least, was that if I didn’t know better I wouldn’t even be able to tell this was SHAFT. Maria+Holic has always managed to keep itself at least looking crisp and visually arresting even when things are comparatively dull, but this episode just seemed to lack that visual punch and things all looked pretty mediocre. It seemed like there were a lot of times when the characters went off-model as well, and the overall quality seemed pretty low. I suppose SHAFT are putting more effort into Denpa Onna this season, but it’s still pretty irritating to see Maria+Holic like this, especially when I know how it can look. (there are some nice and amusing flourishes here and there, though; the many different paintings Dorm Mistress has of Yonakuni-san for example)
The part about the silly fads at the school was kind of amusing…but it really didn’t seem to go anywhere and lacked any proper punchline. It seems like things are running into the next episode lately (Kanako’s actions in episode 3 resulted in her trial in episode 4, which resulted in her bad marks in this episode, etc.)
There’s also a new opening…which is also disappointing. The song is pretty good, but the visuals are really generic and just look like ‘any anime opening’, which is really pretty shocking coming from SHAFT (and when compared to the amazing opening the first series has, too!). I far preferred the joke openings of the first four episodes, which were different each time and really funny. Perhaps the visuals on this one will change too with each episode or at least now and then. Also lacking is either Father Kanae or Matsurika at the end. In all, I’m really not sure what happened with this episode, but I really hope Alive gets out of its slump in time for the next episode. Perhaps we’ll see this mythical sister of Kanako’s.

Wow, Kanako actually looks good with long hair.

This whole segment was just wat

Exactly how did she get so much hair anyway?

You could turn 'chibi Maria and Matsurika look on' into a drinking game with this show.

Out of 5,