Ensemble Stars! Episode 21
So we get a Halloween themed episode this week and it’s unsurprising that UNDEAD gets a highlight. However, the spotlight felt like it was kind of divided between them, 2wink and Ritsu. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a bad thing, however, the anime really doesn’t know how to pace itself well, especially when they’re trying to cram in as many things as possible. It felt like they at least TRIED to make on coherent plot this episode, however, I couldn’t help but feel like it went all over the place. There wasn’t enough proper build up between the problem between Ritsu and Rei within the episode. Especially when they decided to shine a spotlight on so many different characters like 2wink, Switch (they especially felt so random), Oogami, Mikejima, a little bit of knights and UNDEAD. It felt a bit convoluted and just didn’t have very smooth pacing.
I do appreciate them at least ATTEMPTING to try and show Ritsu’s relationship with knights through Leo (which I admit was very cute). I had wished he interacted more with knights to see his interactions with them better. But beggars can’t be choosers and at least we got a little. Which is way more than what this series usually gives. Speaking of Leo, while he still feels like a stranger, it’s still entertaining to see him interact with others. He’s so loud and weird, it’s amusing lol.
After the last arc, it was honestly really nice to see the units who helped in the revolution again even if it was just a glimpse at how they participated in the Halloween event. Though I guess the only one I didn’t really care to see was Mikejima. For one, I hardly know him as he only started appearing in the second cour and is shady as HECK. I don’t know what he’s up to, but there’s just something about him that just screams “I’m up to no good.” Though probably not on the same level as Eichi, but it’s definitely there. Especially since even the Student Council seems to be pretty wary of him. Speaking of which, I just realized that we actually didn’t see Eichi this episode… WHICH IS A FIRST AND I’M GLAD. We can finally get a small break from him. Anyways, Mikejima is obviously being built up as some sort of big deal, considering he knew Anzu in kindergarten and he seems to constantly avoid fully addressing his connection to her.
It also honestly felt a little weird having 2wink (feat UNDEAD) be the ones to perform for this episode. I can only assume they did it because they were running out of episodes and they have yet to give us an official 2wink performance so decided to give it to us here. It honestly would have made the episode so much more heartfelt if we actually got to see Rei and Ritsu perform together. I was also a little disappointed we didn’t even get to see a little of knights’ performance, especially since they kept alluding to Ritsu’s part in it. Poor 2wink getting the short end of the stick both in canon and in production. Though I will admit that their performance was very cute. Out of place, but cute.
In any case, for most of the episode has characters expressing concern and talking about Ritsu. I feel like this could be handled a little better, especially since it felt like most of the time we were just listening to characters talk about how Ritsu’s true feelings rather than him saying them himself. This series really likes just having other characters talk about each other, doesn’t it? I already kind of liked Ritsu, but because of this episode being so clunky, I don’t feel like him any more or less after this episode despite learning more about him.
However, nothing hits me in the feels more than family feels. While the build up within the episode was a bit weak, we always knew that Ritsu resented Rei so the conclusion to this family drama was actually pretty heartfelt. I did really like that both knights and Anzu worked together (namely Leo and Arashi) to bring the two together. It was also very sweet for Anzu to actually make a matching costume for Ritsu. I think that was the first time we actually got to SEE her sew and outfit together. Though it is really strange that they decided to have their heartfelt conversation on stage… in front of a large audience. You think this would be saved for a private conversation. And as per usual, the anime always resorts to telling things about characters right on the spot instead of letting us see the extent of their relationships. I wish we were able to see what exactly Rei did that made Ritsu call him a traitor. Like possibly slipping it into that Eichi and Tsumugi flashback so at least it would have some sort of reference. But no, everything just gets unloaded here and now. We don’t even know what exactly Rei did, so Ritsu’s accusations are left very obscure and something new watchers like me can’t understand.
It was actually really sad to see Rei renounce his place as a family member since it was obvious that he had done something to make Ritsu refuse to see him as his brother (though we still have no idea WHAT he did). Rei shows just how much Ritsu means to him by just wanting to perform with him, even if he can’t be his brother. And it just hit me in the heart when Rei tells Ritsu to take care of himself, as if he’s relinquishing his place by Ritsu’s side, and that there are so many people who care about him. And to the anime’s credit, it actually did a good job showing a lot of different characters caring about Ritsu with Isara, Oogami and Leo. And Rei just hits the nail on the head to my heart by telling Ritsu if he has no where else to go, he’s always open to take care of him. Ritsu had a pretty fast turnaround, though I guess he was just being stubborn about it. However, it was still a sweet and tender moment between the brothers. Especially when Ritsu finally thanks Rei for what he did for him and even calls him “oniichan” one last time. UGH SIBLING BONDS IN IDOL ANIME MAKE ME WEAK.
This episode definitely felt pretty clunky in its pacing, but I can still appreciate a good emotional sibling plot. Especially when it shows such a tender moment between them. The build up wasn’t very strong, but at least the resolution was touching. These tender moments the series tries so hard for always falls flatter than it should since they spend too much talking about things rather than showing. And it was nice seeing units like Ra*bits, Ryuuseitai and 2wink being their usual adorable selves while also sidelining Trickstar and Eichi for an episode.