While Bones and Utsumi Hiroko managed to shoehorn a sliver of content into it, this was deffo the fluffiest episode of SK∞ so far. And it was a pretty fluffy show to begin with. Old-school hot springs episodes (there wasn’t that much actual onsen in this one, but it served the function) tend to be comic relief-fanservice diversions anyway, and this one was no exception. It’s what SK∞ is most of the time – likeable goofuses being likeable (and goofuses) – without the usual pretense of a plot (or realism).
There may be a finite half-life on that concept when taken to this extreme, but so far for me at least we haven’t reached it. This show is charming enough and unpretentious enough to pull an ep like this off, and somehow Bones just seems to have an instinct for this sort of material. The premise, such as it is, is the gang headed off to Miyakojima for an onsen visit to give Reki some R & R time. The hapless Shadow – fast becoming SK∞’s official butt monkey – is drafted as adult chaperone. And chauffeur. Miya tags along because of reasons, and Joe and Angel are on the ferry purely by coincidence.
The rest is just boys’ (and overgrown boys’) hijinks. Shadow gets every chore dumped on him and repeatedly called an old man. Joe (who’s fast becoming my favorite in the Scooby Gang) relentlessly engages in nanpa, as the kids try and trip him up (Miya’s “Papa” routine being the most effective means). Langa tries to keep Reki from doing anything dangerous and stresses over using a Japanese toilet, and Angel tries to keep from being exposed to the sun. Shadow has picked the hotel, and it’s a total dump – though the adults (apart from Shadow) are staying at the nice place next door, where everyone leeches off of Angel’s fancy ryokan dinner.
What little focus on the main plate we get mostly comes down to Reki agonizing over being left behind by Langa. This of course is the central theme of their relationship at this point, and Reki is smart enough to see what’s happening as he gets pigeonholed as a mechanic. Heck, at one point Snow literally says “sorry about leaving you behind”. Adam isn’t on this trip (which was almost certainly for the best) but he does find out who called the rozzers on his beef with Langa. It’s a police superintendent named Kamata Kiriko, with whom Adam has some obvious familiarity.
As for that whole final sequence, it’s based on an actual festival in Miyakojima – the Paantu Matsuri. And yes, men dressed as mud monsters do rove about smearing smelly mud on people (it’s supposed to bring good luck). It was no “Hot Springs Planet Tenrei” – still the gold standard of onsen episodes – but this was very much in synch with SK∞’s usual vibe.
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