The main heroines of Episode 9 are Harukaze Chiharu and Tsurugino Kayura, the two most prominent otakus other than Nagi herself. Not surprisingly, they are arguably Nagi’s closest friends.
Yet, as we learnt from CTMEOY Episode 4, Chiharu and Kayura could share more rivalry than friendship as they have different tastes on manga, anime and games. Of course, it is not “real” rivalry, but more like they simply enjoy bickering with each other over their common topics. It seems that Kayura would take the initiative to provoke Chiharu, who would dutifully fight back.
To be honest, for a “Chiharu and Kayura” anime episode, I think that CTMEOY Episode 4 is better than Cuties Episode 9. The reason is that the materials picked for this episode are not really about Chiharu and Kayura, and there is too little interaction between them. In this episode, Chiharu and Kayura act more like observers as we see the world through their eyes, and although this still makes them the main heroines of this episode, we are not really introduced to them.
It is interesting that Chiharu and Kayura actually have similar social circles, so if we say that we are seeing the world through their eyes, we are actually observing the same groups of people: teachers and students of Hakuou Academy, and the residents at the Violet Mansion. We can almost say that we have two different versions of “observation reports” by Chiharu and Kayura respectively, although the “facts” shown in these two “reports” are sometimes the same.
Aika makes her first appearance since Season 2. Clearly she is not forgotten by the production team, but one must then ask why a role that was supposedly hers in Episode 5 has been taken up by Chiharu. She is still keeping her Weakness Book, although sometimes I suspect that she has only put down things related to Chiharu…
Mysteriously, we do not see the panties of Nagi
and Izumi (fine, I see Izumi’s all right), as we did in Ch. 192. We might want to explain this as an attempt to avoid censorship, but later we see Hinagiku’s underwear – twice. It is not up to one girl to provide fanservices, unless you are suggesting that nobody wants to see other girls’ fanservices…
I would say that this episode does not have the best of scripts. The change between the video game centre scene and the Violet Mansion scene could do with more polishing. Meanwhile, the Ayumu-Ruka scene has been too long for an episode in which neither of them is the main heroine – just go and fight in your own episodes, you two. It is simply too much effort for the Chiharu punchline that follows.
It seems that Ruka is set to have not yet started actively fighting for Hayate’s love yet, let alone kissing him. Yet it seems that she is on the way to do just that (again). A few days ago we have been informed that Hayate would share a kiss with a girl in Episode 11 and/or 12, and the Ayumu-Ruka scene could have paved way for the kissing scene. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hayate ends up kissing Ruka, to say the very least.
Just like Ruka, Kayura is a new character who was introduced after the Athena saga – in fact, she made her debut in the Heaven is a Place on Earth movie. Unlike Ruka, Kayura has been given so little screentime that her character has never been explored in depth. Somehow, she doesn’t even qualify as a functional character – just what kind of “function” has she been performing?
Sadly, even in Ch. 350 – assumed to be a Kayura chapter – Kayura is more a pedestrian than “the star of the week”. It is sinking too low even by the standard of this episode, and I guess this is why the production team have decided to make something original for Kayura, in order to highlight her character. We know that Kayura is a keen cosplayer, and in this episode she takes it to another level: she begins role-playing without the costumes. It successfully highlights Kayura’s love and deep knowledge of manga, anime and games, although I kinda think that… well, if she could role-play without the costumes, chances are that she would not be wearing those costumes any more. From a reader’s point of view, that’s just not as fun enough.
I think this episode has hinted that even Hinagiku, who is said by Chiharu to be “not unguarded”, has her weakness: she is clueless as to where she should (or shouldn’t) change her clothes. Let’s get this straight: one does not simply change her clothes in the Student Council Room. Even if Hayate “obeys” her rules and knocks the door, what could Hinagiku do if she is in the middle of changing? Yes, she could say “Please wait for a while”, but when things are too urgent, we could imagine Hayate opening the door right after knocking, and Hinagiku would still be exposed. In any case, why change clothes in the school? What is she supposed to change into?
The “high probability” of Hayate seeing Hinagiku changing as he opens her door without knocking really begs the question as to why the both of them never learn from their “confrontations” – unless, of course, we are trying to argue that they actually enjoy this particular brand of hide-and-seek. Somehow, this might not be that very wrong…
The ED is “POKER FACE for All” by Chiharu. Kayura would have her ED in Episode 11.