Rating: 5(of 5)
To give you a feel for how the anime community is reacting to the series, it is the most-watch and highest-rated series of the season on MAL (even over the return of Kaguya-sama) and in just a bit over three weeks has nearly as many ratings on Crunchyroll as last season’s big hit, My Dress-Up Darling, had for the entire season – and a with a virtually perfect average rating, too. Episode 4 shows that such a high opinion and popularity is not misplaced. Whether on humor, action, or dramatic fronts, it nails all of its components so completely that it almost seems to exist in some magical zone where it can do no wrong.
The humor side shows first, with the Forgers having to go through a veritable gauntlet of challenges just to get into the interview at the prestigious school. Some of those challenges are planned, but others are not. Here the episode shows its fun side, whether it’s Loid impressing an elderly teacher with his elegance in the face of all challenges or Yor taking a charging cow down with pressure-point attacks that she has to immediately feebly explain come from yoga. (The reaction of the other animals to her in the background of the following shot is easily one of the episode’s two funniest moments, the other being Anya’s thought on saluting the statue of the school’s founder in an earlier scene.) The reactions of the elegance-obsessed teacher, as over-the-top as they are, are also pretty funny.
The meat of the episode comes when the Forgers finally get in for the interview and all three have to dodge assorted pitfalls in order to look good there as well. This part is also fun, even if it is more serious. One interesting point is how they actually aren’t lying that much about their family status, with the amusing point here being how the three gentlemen conducting the interview cannot possibly imagine the full truth behind the words of all three of the Forgers or the depth of meaning behind the absolute sincerity of Anya’s words about her “parents.” But then the hard pivot comes when Anya is forced into a distressing emotional reaction, and that is when the episode really shines. Despite their real reasons for being here, and despite their own personal motivations, both Loid and Yor jump to Anya’s defense as if they were real parents, even to the point of walking out (and thus effectively abandoning Loid’s mission) to avoid putting her in any more distress. They of course cannot know that that was ultimately the correct move under the circumstances, as it was the final element in winning over the elegance-obsessed gentleman, but it also serves as the episode’s great irony: for all of the other meticulous preparations Loid made, he did not prepare for that.
The episode also wins points for the emotional resonance of the scene at the end. Both Loid and Yor still keep trying to convince themselves that their ulterior motives are all that matter here when clearly that’s not the case. Both care for Anya more than they would like to admit, and I love how that scene shows that they are all at their best when they are together. It is a wonderfully heartwarming finish to an episode more exhilarating than I expected it to be.