It might not feel like it if you’re no longer in middle school, but being called “weird” can be really painful. Middle school’s an awful time in general (at least in my experience), and part of that comes from the way that failing to conform to whatever is considered “normal” instantly labels you as a target for the insecurities of others. That’s something Ran’s all too aware of, having learned in elementary school that not everyone’s going to be as enthusiastic about your favorite things as you are, and that sometimes it can backfire on you. In her case, her enthusiasm for food got her labeled as weird, so while she in no way toned down other aspects of her personality – at least, not as far as we know; Her retreat into super-polite language this week may indicate otherwise – she decided to keep her love of cuisine to herself. That feeds nicely into why Kokone and Yui didn’t know that the Curesta account they were following and that Gentlu was using was Ran’s: because of her bad experience, she didn’t want anyone to know that she maintained a foodie feed.
Even if we don’t consider how much more rounded this discovery makes Ran as a character (let’s face it, she’s the last girl we might expect to harbor such insecurities), it’s interesting to put in the context of last week’s episode, when a nervous Kokone held forth on the perfect method for making a sandwich. Kokone’s rich-girl charm and social status ensured that this didn’t blow up in her face, but Ran has no such social armor. Kokone talking to a sandwich might have been “quirky;” Ran doing the same thing is unquestionably “weird” in her classmates’ eyes.
It doesn’t even matter to Ran that the classmate who starts all of this, Takagi, has a bit of a reputation for telling tall tales. (Kokone, however, thinks this deserves consideration, another good distinction between them.) Takagi’s stories about his brother working for NASA, being kidnapped by aliens, and other exaggerated fare don’t seem to hurt his social credibility in their class at all, and maybe that’s why he doesn’t think twice when he begins spinning Ran talking to the sandwich into something much bigger and sillier than it actually was. He has no idea that it could hurt Ran, and Yui confronting him about it like the good friend she is did nothing to change his mind. It’s just Takagi doing what he always does, and he can’t quite understand why that wouldn’t be a good thing. And he may have a bit of a crush on Ran, but I’m not sure that was true before the very end of this episode; either way, he doesn’t get why she’s bothered.
In part that could be because he’s got his own issues that he’s dealing with, ones Kokone understands all too well. Takagi’s parents are apparently too busy to bother taking care of their younger son, so they left that to his older brother, who has just left for college. That means that Takagi is mostly alone at home, and to his parents’ credit, it does sound like they’re aware that this is hard for him, although Yui’s mother’s decision to send him a lunch at school could be her recognizing something that Takagi’s own mother does not. Takagi’s stories are his way of coping with his sudden solitude, spinning tales about his awesome brother and his own adventures to make himself feel better; when he tells a story about Ran, it’s less that he’s trying to hurt her and more force of habit. He does think she’s weird, but he also doesn’t seem to think that’s a bad thing.
And as we all learn as we get older, it’s really not. Being a little weird is great, whether that means just embracing what you love or being able to think outside the box, both of which we see Ran do towards the end of the episode. When she enthuses at Takagi in the stew restaurant, she’s letting him see her real self without worrying what he’ll say to his friends, and when she wraps the Crunchy Cutter Blades around her own arms to get out of Narcistoru’s trap, she’s using her wonderfully weird mind to do what the bad guy never expected. Being weird is Ran’s strength, and seeing her embrace that is wonderful – and it just may help Takagi as well.
How it will work when the fourth Cure joins in the coming weeks (maybe even next week!) should be interesting to see, but in the meantime, maybe Cure Yum-Yum can give Narcistoru some feedback on his quest for a less dumb Bundoru gesture and pose.
Delicious Party♡Precure is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.