Episode 11 – Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department

The past couple of weeks have been strong for Miss Kuroitsu, so I suppose I was too optimism to hope it could keep that energy up. So here we are that, one week from the finale, the show turns in what’s probably its most mediocre effort to date. I think the series will still be fine overall; There’s nothing here that overtly damns the series enough to nullify the fun I have had with it (among the other ups and downs) over its run. It’s simply an incredibly flat entry which, like some of the series’ other lesser episodes, feels like it could have been a winner they simply tried a little harder.

Because as usual for Miss Kuroitsu, the potential with the concept is here. This is another one where the focus is more on the business-culture side of things than the tokusatsu-riffing, which is fine, since mixing things up beyond genre fanservice is good (though this episode does also throw in some cameos from Astro Fighter Sunred, in a crossover reference I can’t believe it took them eleven weeks to make). And as usual with this show’s askance commentary on work practices, I can empathize with the goofy setup: Kuroitsu coming along on a retreat that otherwise exclusively includes the high-ranking executives of Agastia, and bringing poor Wolf along as well. There’s nothing quite so potentially stressful as trying to take a vacation only to have all Your bosses intimidatingly hanging around the entire time, even moreso when they’re all literal monsters with superpowers spec’d for squaring off with spandex-clad soldiers.

So it comes off like something of a wasted opportunity that Miss Kuroitsu can’t seem to mine much particular comedy from such a situation. This should’ve been a perfect chance to see more outsized personality antics from several of these executives, many of whom we’re meeting for the first time in this episode. But we hardly see them cutting loose, and what we get instead are stretches of the characters in relatively low-key hangout situations. Maybe that itself is supposed to be the ‘joke’: seeing these elemental embodiments and hulking animal-people just kind of chilling out in hotel robes. But the series has already worked the sight of tokusatsu monsters just vibing into its overall framework, so there isn’t any fresh humor or entertainment value derived from seeing these weirdos sit around and play video games.

It doesn’t help that when the episode is going for more specific comedy setups, it’s from more uncomfortable angles. Yes, the real reason poor Wolf has been brought along on this trip is so he can get harassed again. This time around the perpetrator is Skylla, seemingly the predatory lesbian of the Agastia corporate ladder (who, if we’re to believe a passing comment, apparently hooked up with Arachne at some earlier point?). She, ha ha, Wolf’s gender mistakes and targets him for her affections, and also, ha ha, he can’t turn her down due to a combination of her power within the organization and his own subservient pack instincts. So it goes that we go through several scenes of agonizingly watching Wolf be uncomfortable while Skylla harasses him in the bath and the like.

Another problem with all this is simply how rough this episode looks. Miss Kuroitsu has never exactly been a looker, but getting later in the production has done this particular entry no favors. You definitely don’t want your hot springs fanservice segments to look this bottom-barrel, but with that we’re left with only the poorly-articulated gag of Wolf’s discomfort to carry those segments. It extends to so many of the other scenes as well, affecting even those stretches of characters just sitting around talking. They’re slideshows of hardly any animation; The animalistic characters don’t even move their mouths when they talk, while the faces of the more humanoid organization members slowly disintegrate with each switch of the camera. An episode that wasn’t entertaining to watch might survive if it was at least decent to look at, but failing on both counts pretty well dooms the prospects of this one.

It’s not a complete failure. Amongst all the low-key Executive hangouts, there are a few decent gags, mostly courtesy of Freezing Combat Executive Fleurety, who gets in fun bits like the revelation that he mostly just uses his powers for food storage. And there’s a bit of a boost in entertainment about halfway through, courtesy of the appearance of the Assassin Rangers Jyuyushi. These guys appear to be a fully-fiction Sentai send-up, apart from any of the real-world Local Heroes that Miss Kuroitsu has featured, seemingly so they can be dunked on as much as the narrative wants. It results in some great digs at what pieces of work these guys are, like how impractical ‘assassination’ is as an aesthetic for colorful kid-friendly superheroes, or how ineffectual they are at that anyway. They even deliver one of the best gags of the episode, with the revelation of their piloting a second-hand purchased mecha that doesn’t even match their aesthetic as a result. That’s a great bit for a show like this! But it’s also unfortunately as clever as this episode gets, with the rest of it mostly coming off as an unattractive drag too close to the finish line.

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Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.

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