The opening episode begins surprisingly with a story of political intrigue, attempted murder and scandal in the background as the food research club at the center of the story tries to ensure it’s own survival. The episode begins with one of the students capturing photos she was never meant to take, and is run down by a car because of what she knows. The story then resumes with the food research club getting together to sample some new candy before their advisor runs in to tell them the club might be disbanded. A meeting of the student council ensues and an attempted coup by the head of general affairs is stopped by the head of the financial affairs Shinonome Satsuki who both points out how it would make preparations for the upcoming presidential election harder, but shows suspicious data that implicates general affairs chief in a scandal of his own. Meanwhile, the food research club tries to find a candidate who is viable and will help keep their club alive before ultimately deciding that the protagonist Oojima Yuuki should run himself.
I went into this first episode with very low expectations, mainly in the fact that I expected it to be more like the first scene after the opening than it actually was. There was actually quite a bit that happened to set up the series here and there is going to be a lot to cover here.
The first thing I actually liked was the level of detail that went into the conversations between club members. While Chisato’s scene where she woke up Yuuki went in about the most cliche fashion a scene involving a tsundere/childhood friend waking up the object of her affections could go, the rest was much better. The acted out rejection of Yuuki’s mock confession by Kiba Mifuyu was something that had been done in public before, and I did see it as a good opening on what kind of inside jokes this group has with each other.
Then, at the food research club there were another couple of moments that I did like. The first was a sequence that began with one of the club members, Sarue Ai, shipping Yuuki with the only other male club member Yumeshima Oboru. Rather than just issue a stern rejection and moving on, Yume as he is nicknamed actually keeps the joke running.This worked perfectly with the food item that was being tested called a yaoi stick. It continued even further as Yuuki chose to break off a piece of the stick and eat it which generated a mock scream of pain from Yume.
The second part of that scene was Chisato attempting to steal a bit from Yuuki only to have him grab it out of midair. She has a still unexplained problem with chocolate, which the entire club knows about. What impressed me was Yuuki’s seriousness as Chisato went to argue with him. She got the message quickly as though this was something that had happened before.
The other thing I liked about the food research club in this episode was the complete lack of exposition about the club. There’s no need to delve into how it was founded or what the intended purpose is. For all we know, it is just a group of friends meeting regularly to enjoy some food and talk about mundane topics while spending a lot of the school’s money. Well maybe that last point is debatable as a good thing, but it’s also the reason why the club is under threat.
That leads into the other part of the episode I liked, the beginning of the campaign. The club is troubled by the fact that they would be among the club’s chopped should the front runner Satsuki win the presidency of the student council. The club in deciding what to do looks at the existing paradigm of how the student council functions and first looks at supporting a candidate from one of the major departments within the student council. This is very much like trying to decide what political party to support in an election, so they look for someone who will support the single issue they care about and whether they are a viable candidate.
Of the major departments, they only look at Tatsumi Moheiji of general affairs. He is all sorts of fishy in passing around free gift cards to the school store, which Yuuki points out is a loophole as the campaign had not officially started. However, he also wears a mask that seemingly only Yuuki bothers to notice. The club easily comes away with the impression that they should not support him. With no other candidates they could support, they take a flyer on running their own candidate, which would happen to be none other than Yuuki himself.
As for other points of interest in this episode, there is the student council president who has to prepare the elections for his successor, all the while having two separate issues that are causing him problems. The first is that his sister Kana is in a coma because she was the one who took pictures in the beginning of the episode. The other is the continued bullying of special students, those who are attending on scholarships like Aomi Isara who literally runs into Yuuki in this episode.
Also, I am also pleased that this election isn’t going to be a straight contest between bad candidate and good candidate. You have that in the conflict between Satsuki and Moheiji, but Yuuki’s entrance into the contest as a long shot candidate changes the race entirely. Satsuki seems to want to run a much more efficient school in how it spends its money, so she has every right to question how necessary a club is. Yuuki is just running on a single issue arguing against this. That does not mean that they are necessarily enemies, it may only be an argument on what constitutes necessity. However, the cynic in me would see the two of them splitting the vote and Moheiji winning easily. In this show’s reality, I don’t know what to expect.
In next week’s episode, I expect the friendly rivalry between Satsuki and Yuuki to begin in earnest. I also expect Isara’s situation to become a much bigger part of the story than the brief entrance she had in this episode, which consisted mainly of gawking at her, noticing she dropped a key and then mentioning that she has a part-time job unlike the normal students. I’d also expect more banter from the food research club and for Satsuki’s older sister, and club advisor Hazuki, to drink more beer that she inexplicably has on tap in the clubroom.