At the start of the second school term, Sakuta finds out that Mai and a young idol girl named Nodoka have switched bodies due to Puberty Syndrome. Nodoka is revealed to actually be Mai’s younger half-sister (same father, different mothers). Mai takes the body switch surprisingly well, and plainly states that she and Nodoka will have to just try living each other’s lives as normally as possible. So the girls do exactly that.
Not long after this, Mai and Nodoka engage in a bit of a sibling confrontation; after which Mai (in Nodoka’s body) moves in with Sakuta temporarily so that Nodoka (in Mai’s body) can live in Mai’s apartment alone. The two are able to pass off as the other person well enough, however… At one of Mai’s commercial shoots, Nodoka nearly passes out after panicking. Although Mai has appeared mostly apathetic about the entire situation, it’s clear that Mai still worries about her younger sister. She asks Sakuta to go check in on Nodoka to see if everything is okay–but warns him never to open the Japanese-styled cabinets in her apartment.
…So of course, guess what Sakuta does at the end of the episode.
This episode was kind of a strange one. The first episodes for a new girl’s arc are always kind of “meh” in this series, and this one was definitely one of the weaker episodes. But at the same time it gave us a lot of insight into a previously established character.
Even though this is supposed to be Nodoka’s arc, it felt more like an extension of Mai’s arc/character than anything. Yes, Nodoka is the focal character this time, but she’s so close to Mai that we learn a whole lot more about what exactly is going on with Mai’s family and past. And apparently, Mai’s and Nodoka’s moms are in some kind of weird feud, where they are both pitting their daughters in the “fight” for stardom. While it was established that Mai’s mother was pretty asshole-ish from the start, to learn that Mai’s mom was forcing her daughter into showbiz to ALSO get back at her ex-husband and his new wife is just. Wow. That’s incredibly petty and incredibly messed up.
One of the reasons why I felt this episode was a little weak is because I don’t care much about Nodoka, because doesn’t have much of a personality at the moment. Which is actually really sad considering her main dilemma: Nodoka’s puberty syndrome activated because she was frustrated at constantly being compared to and surpassed by her older sister. It is really hard NOT to compare Nodoka and Mai because Nodoka is IN Mai’s body currently. I’m sure this was intentional. Maybe the solution to Nodoka’s situation is becoming more of her own person and letting go of the inferiority complex she has?
Another reason why I felt that this episode was a little weaker than past episodes is that it felt so aimless at times. We get a lot of montages of Mai and Nodoka (in each other’s bodies of course) going through the day and following the other person’s schedule, which threw off the pacing of the episode a bit. It also feels kind of weird to me that no one seems to be actively trying to find a solution to this problem? In all the previous arcs, Sakuta seemed to always constantly be thinking about how to revert things back to normal. And yet in Nodoka’s arc, the sisters seem almost resigned to living in each other’s bodies, and Sakuta only gets a few snippets of dialogue that imply he’s trying to find out a solution. Maybe in this case it’s different because it’s affecting two people; doesn’t necessarily involve him; and Sakuta feels that it’s something the siblings will have to resolve on their own? I guess we’ll find out in the next episode.
Other than those gripes, I did like that Mai and Nodoka got a chance to air their respective grievances with each other, which is so rare to see in anime. (Sadly, doing this did not solve their main problem.) I also did like that Mai and Nodoka kept their VAs post body switch, and the VAs did an excellent job in portraying a different personality.
Although I did feel this was a rather lackluster beginning to an arc, this show has always ended up surprising me with its story resolutions; so I’m excited to see what will happen. Does the secret that Mai is hiding in those cabinets hold the key to resolving Nodoka’s issues? Will we learn more about Mai’s and Nodoka’s childhood? And more importantly, will Sakuta ever be able to progress in his relationship with Mai? Only time will tell.
Out of five for this episode: