It’s been twelve episodes since Minami Kamakura began, and I still hold out hope every installment that I will get some character development- no matter how small. I am again given no such happiness, but instead reminded that the girls love each other and that the club creation bureaucracy at the high school needs to be updated.
I watched this episode believing it was the final bit in the season, but as it turns out the creators had thirteen episodes planned. I’m not sure I would have done the same, but (since they have their voice actor idols at the end each episode) I’m sure there’s more reason than just ratings for the show’s continuance past what I believe to be a solid ending scene.
In true Japanese fashion, the Cycling Club turns in a paper about their day trip to the peninsula in the hopes that this success will convince the principal to finally accept their club application. However, she still refuses to accept the club and insists that the girls are forgetting something. If you were watching the episode you would have to wait until the very end to find out what the girls were missing because the principal won’t divulge such information. I won’t do that to you. According to their lovely principal, the Cycling Club was forgetting to have fun.
This is patently false, and I take serious issue with this first instance falsified conflict in the episode. The Cycling Club has been enjoying themselves and putting their enjoyment first in every situation they’ve encountered. So much so, that the girls have never had a fight because they are under the mutual understand that “bikes are fun and that everything to do with bikes is fun no matter what.” While this is childish premises of which the show is built on, it’s still solid and made known with expert force throughout the season to everyone around the girls. The fact that the principal failed to see the love these girls have to riding bikes says more about her as a teaching professional than it does about these kids.
The second, and far less frustrating, bit of false conflict happens when Shiki overhears a conversation Sandy has on the phone about returning to the US. We later find out that Sandy’s grandmother misses her very much and wants a visit from her dear granddaughter, so Sandy is returning to the US for a week. That’s all. Just a week. After which, Sandy will return for the rest of her homestay (which I assume lasts until the end of the school year).
This issue created does lend itself to a great bonding experience as the girls ride to the second station on Mt. Fuji that allows the principal to spy on them to which gives the Cycling Club credence to become official. However, Sandy’s seemingly apparent exit and the principal’s ignorance couple to create an episode with contrived conflict that doesn’t add to any growth story or character-wise. It was conflict for conflict’s sake, and though I’ve wanted problems this whole series… this isn’t what I meant. Conflict is supposed to help a character grow, or at least help the story advance along a interesting path- not just create an event to be extinguished without a climax.
This episode certainly doesn’t feel any different than the rest of the series, so there isn’t a loss of momentum at any point. Also, the end of the episode is actually quite good. It leaves you on a sweet note understanding that the Cycling Club will continue happily. At the end of the day that’s all we really need from this show.
I’m very interested in seeing what the show will manage to do for Episode 13 considering this episode ended on such a final note.