I may have been a little too soon in saying that this show hit its stride last week, since this episode went back to its old slow pace.
The first half of this episode had me a little concerned. Were we really going to watch Yuki do nothing for twenty minutes? The introduction of the "brothers fight and then make up" plot arc was appreciated and prevented the episode from becoming a complete waste of time, yet I can't say that it was good overall. The twins are enjoyable characters, but a lot of that comes from the way they play off the rest of the cast in this series. The two of them alone was, quite frankly, boring. They even had to bring in Kaname for a while to remind the viewers that they can be funny, given the right prompting. I don't think that it was a good idea to give an entire episode to the characters whose only function in the show are to act as comedy foils. There was a chance here to expand their characters beyond "Yuta is the responsible one and Yuki just doesn't care" but nothing in this episode happened other than to reaffirm what we already know.
Watching this episode, I felt as if Yuki's laziness had affected the entire staff; the off-model animation was back in full force, along with the use of blank or solid color backgrounds whenever possible. Even when the episode decided to have something resembling a plot, it was resolved in the laziest way possible as well. I have no idea how Yuta found the plate, which was obviously what caused him to forgive (or at least, decide to tolerate) Yuki's laziness. Yuki was shown as the one who found it... yet this was after they had their argument, and they weren't talking to each other. Unless that was supposed to be Yuta and I got the two mixed up. If that's the case, then this episode has more problems with its art direction than I thought, since it's usually pretty easy to tell the two apart.
Part of my disappointment in this episode has to do with the season it's airing in; while the reaffirmation of the bond between brothers was nice, there is a different show this season that's pulled off that sentiment in a much better way. Space Bros may a be a bit of an unfair comparison since the aims of these two shows are obviously different, but since they both try to take a realistic approach I think that the comparison is merited. If Space Bros is the bar, then this episode did not reach it. I wouldn't be so hard on this show if I didn't already know that it can do better than this, and following up those great episodes with a lackluster one was definitely not what I expected. To be fair though, this episode was like a lot of the first season, so I'm just going to put this one as a "miss" in the frequent "hit or miss" nature of this show. I'm also getting more and more interested in the source material, but probably not for the reasons intended. Is this just a result of adapting the manga? Was it this slowly paced in the original? Did the studio have very little content that they had to stretch over an episode? I'm interested if any of my readers are familiar with the manga, since I'm genuinely curious. As for the episode, there's always next week.
Current tally: Two (2) Episode(s) without Shun in drag, zero (0) consecutive, one (1) where he does not appear at all. Images from Crunchyroll.com.