Despite some sinking technical issues, “Superiority and Inferiority” hones in on both Ikuto and Chiyuki’s respective weaknesses and strengths this week. Also, there’s bound to be some disagreements among viewers on the merits of Ikuto’s design, including my own, but that all just feeds into the episode’s message on the subjectivity on stylishness.
The preliminary contestants have their designs ready but in a surprise twist, they’ll be judged by not just the principal and presiding instructor, but by their peers as well. I thought this was a strange idea because students may be petty or simply too inexperienced to appreciate their fellow students’ choices. This turns out to be true but Ikuto quickly turns things around by gushing over Kaoru’s leather and lace design which was actually pretty good! She gave a reasonable thesis behind her choice, basing it on Sara’s own duality on and off the runway. The design included some really eye-catching lace gloves that I want immediately despite having no sensible function.
When it’s finally Ikuto’s turn it’s revealed exactly how Chiyuki inspired his submission. He turns in pajamas. Now, before I get into my thoughts on the design itself, Ikuto does manage to sell his choice to make loungewear; actually a lot of this episode is about how effectively the characters can sell their own vision. Ikuto chose to make loungewear based on a statement Sara made herself about wanting to be stylish all the time. He then noticed that her Instagram doesn’t include pictures in at-home style, so he wanted to make her something comfortable that she’d be excited to share on social media.
Then there’s uh, what he turns in which is what I’d describe as “comfy clown.” He leans HEAVILY into colorful stripes (Sara is a fan of stripes) and creates pants in reds and yellows with a long-sleeve white top with matching sleeves. Honestly, and this was a handicap he took when he decided to create pajamas, there’s not a lot of design wiggle room for “clothes you drink your morning coffee in”. I’m pretty sure my favorite pjs is giant black shirt with a cat on it. That said, there has to be a variation on this feels less like circus clothes, but what do I know, Ikuto’s ingenuity still gets him third place. He’s not satisfied with third, hinting again that Ikuto has a pretty strong drive to be the best no matter how demure he seems at first glance.
Design quibbles aside, he apparently did not learn his lesson on client vs. personal yet and it takes Itoh coming to him after all is said and done to give him a lecture. Everything he tells him is spot on; don’t compromise quality for the client for your own personal issues. He then offers Ikuto a job since he’s going to need more cash for materials if he wants to keep going int he competition. I’ll be interested to see how that works with Hajime since Itoh has essentially poached Ikuto from his studio.
The second half the episode is part edutainment about the modeling industry and part Chiyuki trying to get her hustle on. She tries to get her foot in the door for a major magazine shoot and seems to be on the right track when a phone call to fashion magazine gets her in touch with the short assistant that saw her on the runway. When she shows up to her appointment the assistant isn’t there and instead she gets the same old “you’re so tiny!” and then is quickly ushered out when Kokoro’s evil manager shows up. Before she’s shooed away, we hear Chiyuki’s inner monologue as she tries not to break under the disappointment and quickly sell her versatility and knowledge to a magazine editor that already seems biased against her. It works as once again Chiyuki is called in as a filler for a shoot when someone else drops out. She confronted with the sight of a beautiful, tall, seemingly perfect model: our own Kokoro.
It’s interesting to see the dynamic between Chiyuki and Kokoro. Chiyuki immediately hails her as amazing but as the audience knows, Kokoro has her own self-doubts and aspirations, too. I liked seeing that juxtaposition between how Kokoro is perceived and how we know her. It’s true about real people to! Maybe the person who seems perfectly composed to you has their own confidence struggles. We’re all just trying to do our best here, after all.
Like how the story was distinctly two halves, the animation was also split in this episode. There are some real wonky looking stuff in Ikuto’s half; to the point I found it distracting. Something tells me the episode is going to need some TLC before it makes it out on home video.