After the last episode of Hyakko surprised a little by turning on the humour where it had previously been lacking, the latest instalment of this slice of life series turned things entirely on their head, eschewing comedy almost entirely in favour of a far more dramatic storyline.
For starters, we're finally introduced properly to Torako's older sister, Oniyuri, in an episode that fills in all of the blanks regarding her familial situation and why she looks nothing like her siblings - In short, they all share a father but Torako has a different mother from her brother and sister.
As you can imagine, this arrangement creates its fair share of tension, with much of the burden coming down on Torako, which is why on occasion she fails to come home at night, instead staying with a friend wherever she can find one. It's this state we find her in at the start of this episode, and as Oniyuri confronts her and later tries to force her to go home properly the next day, so a big old scene in the middle of the school hallway erupts in front of all of Torako's class mates.
From here we get it all really - A slap, arguments, tears, friends unsure of what to do or how to help, but in the end all's well that ends well, Torako's friends rally round her and her sister apologies, all rolled up into a surprisingly powerful little package. Having watched this, it makes me wonder why they chose to go down the comedy route with Hyakko at all, as this was by far the best episode of the series, bringing a slice of reality to this slice of life series in a way that was engaging, touching, and finally made good use of some of the myriad characters that have been introduced throughout this series. What a shame then that it's taken twelve episodes for Hyakko to begin to find its strengths, although perhaps they're simply counting on the commissioning of a second season to do the job properly?