There’s a question that kept popping in my mind while I was watching this episode, regardless of how many times I attempted beat it down: Is a nondescript, demure personality completely devoid of recognizable traits something that’s in itself distinct? If you have ten people in a room, nine with vibrant personalities and one without, does the one stand out more than the nine for being the exception to the norm? Or do they fade into the scenery so much that recalling any detail regarding appearance or demeanor becomes a Herculean task?
When I kept asking myself this in lieu of paying close attention to the episode, I realized that it wasn’t a vain search for a way to describe the Assistant; I was trying to pin down my own tenuous thoughts on Watashi. I mean yes, the Assistant isn’t exactly brimming with what would ordinarily be described as distinctive charm, but his repertoire of Hawaiian shirts more than makes up for it.
For all the time that we’ve spent following author-surrogate Watashi on her adventures through the fantastical world of Jinrui, not much time has been spent actually trying to characterize her beyond being an unflappable dispenser of dry wit and wry observations, part and parcel for her narrative role. While the episode does just this, rattling off her observations as she’s sent back through time again and again, ala Bill Murray, to amusing effect, it also goes the extra step and attempts to flesh her out beyond just being a sardonic mediator between humans and fairies.
There’s a rather telling part toward the end where she’s asked by Watashi clones what traits she’d desire to see in the Assistant, somebody otherwise ironically described as “nondescript”. She lists several traits before coming to the conclusion that a strong sense of self is all he’d need to endear himself to her. It hardly rattles the audience’s perspective of her, but in saying that she wants Assistant to have a sense of self, it in turn gives her a greater presence in the world at large than she had at the beginning of the episode. Once again, it’s the small things that really bring this surprisingly cynical world to life.
But what was it all leading up to? What did exploring the components of identity, nature vs. nurture, and a sense of self achieve? I’d like to think that it was all meant to be disregarded in favor of one of the greatest puns to ever be awkwardly shoehorned into an anime.
Also, she was groped by a younger version of her grandfather before having her sundial stolen, then given back to her later by re-age-ified Grandpa. That’s fucked.