With the lion's share of the Otogi Bank's members falling into one trap or another during the last instalment of Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi, things are looking pretty tough as this penultimate episode begins even before you factor in Ryouko's kidnapping, which of course is the most important piece of Hitsujikai's master plan.
Well, I say master plan, but it all turns out to be a little bit flawed really - rather than doing anything sensible with the other kidnapped members, they instead tease them with their supposed weaknesses, only to leave themselves wide open to counter attack. Thus, before we know it pretty much the entire Bank staff have regrouped, and thanks to all of the debts accumulated by their recent 30% off sale they also have a handful of important extras to help them out along the way, while our cat-eared friend of the last episode also comes along to a lend a hand.
Ultimately though, we're left with a face-off between a furious Morino and Onigashima student council president, which is exactly what the latter was hoping for in the supposed knowledge that he could beat the current apple of Ryouko's eye to a pulp right in front of her. In a blitz of nicely animated action (I'm guessing the work of animator Seiya Numata from the style), this does indeed look to be the case until Morino remembers his recent training to land a nicely-timed punch... just in time for the Otogi Bank's president to crop up and call a halt to things. This appears to be simply the end of a battle rather than the finale of a war, but with happiness restored and only one episode left surely they won't be running with this particular rivalry any further this series?
Somehow, I'm left feeling a little torn about this episode. For all of its satisfying (but of course far from final) resolution, the feeling of danger which was built up in the last episode was frittered away far too trivially here - yes, I know this isn't exactly a deadly serious show at the best of times, but surely they could have put the Otogi Bank's members through a bit more of a challenging and perilous escape than those they ultimately had to face? Still, there was a fair amount of satisfaction in seeing Morino stand up for his girl and ultimately end up looking rather cool, for a little while at least, and my soft spot for his pairing with Ryouko does at least ease my broader feelings of unhappiness with aspects of the episode. To be fair there was more good than there was bad when you look over the instalment in balance, but I still can't shake the feeling that there has always been more potential to this series than it's ever ultimately delivered upon.