Content: (please note that the content portion of a review may contain spoilers)
Hachiken continues through his practicums and classes — which involves, among other things, tilling the land for crops — and finds himself utterly exhausted. At the same time, he’s impressed, and even humbled by, the energy with which is classmates attack their other interests, be it Tamako and her brother talking about food production, or Ichiro and the baseball club. Already he can barely manage to make it through the day, but on top of that he’s still required to pick a club. Pretty much every club at Ezonoo involves sports (the only non-active one he encounters, the Holstein club, has other things working against it in Hachiken’s eyes) and he doesn’t see how he can muster up the energy to do anything else. This leads him back to cute girl Aki’s suggestion, the equestrian club, where, despite his anxiety around horses, Hachiken thinks he can at least relax riding on a horse. In what’s becoming the show’s usual manner, he immediately learns his main duties involve mucking out mountains of manure, and that, despite the completion of his 5:00 a.m. practicum, he now needs to get up at 4:00 a.m. to are for the animals as part of club duties. Fed up, he tries to skirt around some of his responsibilities, but when he does finally get up on a horse, he begins to understand how special these animals, and maybe this place, is.
Once again with this episode, much of the humor relies on Hachiken’s culture clash, as he balks at his classmates’ enthusiasm and drops his jaw at the work involved with horses. There’s also another case of laugh-out-loud shock humor, as Hachiken, holding a carrot to a horse, imagines the horse chomping off his hand; though, since this isn’t real, it’s a little less eye-popping than the chicken-beheading. There are also some goofy moments with the Holstein club (Hachiken, thinking they’re looking at porn, is suddenly disturbed at just how much they love cows), and with Hachiken and the other boys realizing, after looking at her brother, that Tamako would be super hot if she slimmed down. Really a lot of the jokes are abrupt, and sometimes obvious, but it’s still funny, and entertaining.
Amongst all the laughs, there are some serious moments. The episode opens with Hachiken recalling a moment at middle school, where he passes on joining clubs and making friends so he can study, go to cram school, and get into a good high school and then college. Obviously none of that worked out for him, so the flashback is tinged with a bit of sadness, and gives a sense that Hachiken wasn’t too skilled at friendships or even getting involved in life, despite his academic prowess. There’s also a note of hardship for some of the other characters, such as when Hachiken is talking to Aizawa about how he’s the only one at the school with no goal. Aizawa mentions that having a dream isn’t always enough, and we get the hint that he, and probably the others, had or will have complications reaching what seem to be rather clear-cut goals.
A similar pattern is followed in this episode, of Hachiken rejecting something (in this case clubs) and then going through with it at the end, only to discover how good it really is. Horses at sunset is definitely feels less forced, and more meaningful, than an egg, and there is perhaps enough growth for Hachiken that he can see how being at this school can be an important thing for himself, rather than just a means of escape. Side characters still haven’t revealed all the depth I’m waiting for, but things are slowly floating to the surface at a pace I can accept, as we’re still getting to know Hachiken and all of his hang ups. And right now, it’s just fun watching Hachiken struggle his way through the school, and I hope that, on top of witnessing more of the characters’ growth, we get to see more animals and watch Hachiken sink or swim through more unusual classes.
Streamed by: Crunchyroll
Review Equipment: 13″ Apple Macbook set to 720p