The club decides that they should have a traditional club’s training camp…despite the fact that their club doesn’t do anything anyway, and so goes to stay at an inn by the beach. However, they accidentally end up at an all-male muscle-beach instead, although Yumoto doesn’t really seem to mind this. There’s considerably less fun spent in the sun than you’d expect in what seemed like it would be a Beach Episode, and everyone eventually adjourns to their hot springs inn. However, at the same time, albeit at much fancier accommodations, the student council were also having their own getaway.
Yumoto decides that in true camping spirit they ought to have a test of courage. However, Naruko is suspicious of everybody else because somebody used his toothbrush, and the only logical explanation apparently is that somebody amongst them has a crush on him. Everyone then starts trying to determine who is gay for Naruko – or who is gay for anyone else, really. Meanwhile, Mr Tawarayama comes back to life for a short while.
This was certainly an improvement, although that’s not to say this episode didn’t have its share of issues because it definitely did, and I have mixed feelings on it overall. The obvious trope parodied here is ‘The Beach Episode’, which generally always bleeds into the ‘Everyone Stays at a Hot Springs Inn’ episode. Given that everyone uses a hot spring in every episode anyway, I did find it a little funny how the boys acknowledged this, although it was also nice that the production team decided to not be lazy by having them discover an outdoor spring as well. I also liked the constant juxtaposition of the Earth Defense Club’s activities/accommodation with the ridiculously refined and fancy offerings that the Student Council were allowed.
Of course, this episode is also being called ‘The Really Really Gay Episode’, with good reason. In regards to the surprising amount of fujoshi-oriented fanservice in this episode (which there honestly has been surprisingly little of so far), I’ve noticed some people reacted negatively to it, like the show was desperately trying to reel viewers in again. I personally saw it as an extended parody on the whole beach episode thing. After all, most magical girl anime tend to be aimed at otaku nowadays and their beach episodes generally feature some kind of fanservice aimed at that crowd, so it makes sense for Binan Koukou to go in the opposite direction. A lot of it was actually pretty funny, despite how obviously it tried to play up the pairings it’s trying hardest to sell to fans. (For the record, it’s Atsushi and En, Naruko and Ryuu, and Ryuu and Gero.) What was a lot less funny was its inclusion on the bafflingly offensive ‘predatory gay man/okama’ that way too many anime resort to. I am of course relieved that the ‘okama’ at the beach was just a red herring and did not turn out to be some outrageously offensive villain of the week (there actually wasn‘t a villain in this episode), and that Naruko’s toothbrush hadn’t in fact been stolen by any of the obviously gay mucle-men at the beach that they were convinced were going to hit on them, but it’s still honestly a weird thing for an anime like this to include at all…especially in an episode swimming with BL overtones. It kind of creates a hopefully unintentional but nonetheless nasty dichotomy that ‘queerbaiting fujoshi stuff is super hot and all but those actual gays are kinda gross and funny’. So long as we’re talking about the problematic aspects of this week’s episode, what the fuck was with Yumoto cuddling Wombat being framed like sexual assault. I was too weirded out by that to find it truly offensive, but it also wasn’t exactly funny.
Problematic aspects aside I thought it actually was a pretty fun episode, albeit extremely silly, and actually helped in establishing the personalities of the characters more. It also created some more friction between the Earth Defense club and the Student Council, which I’m guessing is playing into whatever climax the show is building towards. I don’t exactly have high hopes for it to be a good one, but hopefully it’s at least entertaining.