Jun 22, 2021
Manabi Straight feels like the distilled essence of what I like about "cute girls doing cute things" anime, and this special feels like an extension of the spirit which made the anime so solid.
Thematically, the special fleshes out the series' answer to its central question of "What is the point of high school in a future where it's becoming practically unnecessary?" One of the first scenes with the characters gathering to clean up a pool, but ending up with each of the characters gradually getting distracted and just playing around with water guns. Mutsuki arrives last, having overheard a couple of adults she walked
by casually discussing how high school kids have so much more free time to be unproductive compared to them. Mutsuki gets kind of bitter upon finding the other girls just goofing off at the pool, seemingly proving those adults right. Though, she gradually gets convinced to join them. After watching the show, it's pretty obvious that it further proves the point of high school about having the space to goof off and form bonds with these friends that you'll be stuck in that school with. The kicker comes in during the latter half of the special, when Mika talks with a few workers at the inn that the girls visit. One of them didn't go to high school at all and spent those years working at this inn. The younger inn worker and Mika talk about their differing experiences, and while there are certain experiences that the inn worker did not have due to not going to high school, she also explains the satisfaction she's found in being able to have the unique experience of working at an inn in its place. It's a moment which I enjoy for how it shows a new perspective on the different paths a person can take in life, while further fleshing out the show's perspective on what meaning can taken from high school.
Character-wise, due to the leg work done by the TV series, I already love these girls' dynamic, and their interactions are just as fun as they've always been, since the episode is essentially composed of them getting together and goofing off. Something that specifically stood out was how Momo was implemented. I'll leave how the episode ends as a nice surprise, but I love the mischievous way she's always operating in the shadows while still clearly understanding the value of the girls' friendship probably even earlier than anyone else did. This is episode 6.5 chronologically. There's a nice moment where the older inn keeper who did attend high school explains what she got out of it and how she gets nostalgic looking at the main girls hanging out. Mika says she doesn't quite understand al that, and the inn worker tells her that she will someday, which is a nice little nod to the chronology. Mei poses the central question running through specifically this episode in "What's the point of summer vacation?" and reaches a gradual answer of that. While I wouldn't say the characters change that much and the special is not essential to the central storyline of the series, I appreciate spending more time with these characters while expanding and reiterating on its central ideas a bit.
Yeah, it's a nice time if you liked the show. It adds enough to the themes of the show to be a worthwhile entry, and the character interactions are as enjoyable as ever. Good stuff.
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