Can budget animation enhance a show’s storytelling, even unintentionally? Because that might actually be the case with this episode.
This episode is technically one long mecha battle. Yet despite this, there’s not really much actual fighting in it. Most of what we see is dialogue interrupted by only the briefest action scenes, and even then, said action scenes consist of little more than a few simple animations with pans across a still frame at the moment of impact. There’s no doubt that it looks cheap (the detail and the proportions of the mech even change from shot to shot) but in an odd way it works—though perhaps unintentionally. After all, the actual fighting is the least important aspect of this episode, so it’s almost as if the director is saying through the animation, “these fights aren’t worth spending time or effort on”—which is exactly how Leon feels about the whole thing.
When it comes down to it, Leon is a man who has given up. The game’s plot has been derailed and his attempts to find a happy life in the background have proven fruitless. As it stands, even if he stays at the academy, the best he can hope for is a marriage of convenience to a woman like his stepmother, a person only interested in using him as an ATM to bleed dry. Better to be out there on his own than suffer through that misery.
And that’s what the prince and his allies fail to recognize: there is nothing more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose. Leon has no reason to hold anything back. All the power and prestige of their families mean nothing to him. They have been treated with kiddie gloves their whole lives and now they have run afoul of the one man eager to not only take the gloves off but also aim for a low blow while he’s at it.
Defeating them effortlessly in battle is just the cherry on top. The actual chocolate sundae is the tongue lashing he gives each before he delivers the final blow. Being the embodiment of stereotypes made to appeal to the differing tastes of female players, they were already annoying as characters in a game. But as fleshed-out people, their personalities have become so much worse. Now, on this stage, Leon can finally expose their egotistical natures and innate hypocrisy for all to see. He is trying to force the prince’s retinue to confront their own weaknesses and see that they are not better than anyone else. But more than that, he wants them to understand that their love for Marie is not some magical force that makes their actions right and just. In fact, it just makes them bullies.
Angelica has been right in her objects. While the school may be its own self-contained microcosm, once they graduate and enter the real world, how will noble society react to the most powerful heirs in the kingdom all being under the thumb of a poor count’s daughter? And if that weren’t enough, the prince has basicallytd the relationship between the royal family and Angelica’s parents. He may have even destabilized the country through breaking off his engagement with her.
How will these five young men deal with what Leon is attempting to make them confront? Will they be able to truly understand their privileged places in society and what that means in terms of the consequences of their actions? Or will they simply double down on their overly simplistic love for Marie, framing Leon as the bad guy and themselves as the heroes who will one day overcome him? We’ll just have to find out next week—though it certainly was fun watching Leon unleash his inner asshole upon them if nothing else.
• I do like Leon’s mecha design way more than any of the others.
• Leon is going to make so much money (and so many enemies) from this.
• Angelica and Olivia each understand different parts of Leon as a person yet are capable of seeing the other’s point of view.
• Funnily enough, Leon faces the same problem with his potential love interests that the prince’s group does with Marie: he’s too highly ranked to date a commoner but not highly ranked enough to date a duchess.
• Leon asking the prince how he felt about Olivia was his final test to make sure the original plot was completely broken before going all in on self-satisfaction.
• I think Marie’s biggest mistake is that she thinks once she reaches the “ending” of the game, it’s happily ever after for her. But realistically, once she reaches that point, she’ll no longer be able to steal Olivia’s lines and act like her. Perhaps it’s only then that the mask will come off and her harem will be able to break free of her manipulations.
Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.