Wow, I completely misread what Karen had in mind. “Mess Me Up”…she needs to word her requests better!
This episode felt like one entire visual novel route crammed into a single episode. You got Karen’s “wedding”, her plan to sabotage it, the adventure in the mainland, the truth about Karen’s mother, and then the return to the Island. Because of how much ground that needs to be covered, this episode moves at a brisk pace and that ends up messing with the impact and tone of scenes. Like, finding out that Karen’s mother is dead should be a shock but it’s immediately followed up by Karen getting harassed by her mother’s protegee for laughs. It would’ve been better if the gravestone was the end of one episode and then the humorous follow-up was the start of the next one.
It’s a shame that Karen’s arc isn’t stretched out to two or three episodes because of a lot of the scenes presented here do highlight her character development. I am a bit stunned at how many people got in cahoots with sabotaging the arranged wedding. For crying out loud, Karen’s fiancee was completely on board with this. But the whole event was kind of fun to watch and it did show Karen maturing from her impulsiveness. Another sign of growth is Karen accepting her mother’s death for what it is and feeling that she has at least reached closure with a big part of her life. On paper, all these moments seem fine but it would’ve been nice if Island just took its time. If Air can get through three routes in a single cour, why can’t this one?
Then again, is this the end of Karen’s arc? There’s a couple of loose threads left here. Karen’s brother, Subaru (who’s introduction is weirdly timed if you ask me), tells Karen that the two of them need to help lead the island in a new direction. You also have all the research Karen’s mother did which has to be relevant in some way given all the sci-fi stuff that Island has hinted at. It’d be so strange if none of this didn’t come into effect later in the story.
I guess I’ll have to wait and find out since Island is already moving onto Sara. I admittedly do want to learn more about that character. It’s becoming clear that she’s shouldering an awful lot of responsibilities onto herself. This episode, she neglects celebrating her own birthday just so that she can help Karen sabotage the wedding. Still, it feels way too soon to jump to the next story arc.
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