"All of the punks in Camden could never shout about it, and
All of the hipsters in Shoreditch could never style it, and
All of the bankers in Moorgate could never buy it for you
This is simple, and it's true
So let's go swimming this afternoon"

-Allo Darlin', "Let's Go Swimming"

Aww, what an adorable episode.

It's thin as can be, plot-wise. Everyone's got a day off, and they pretty much spend it swimming at pools. Hibiki gets a call to go bail Sabaki out of a jam, and there's a monster fight, but it doesn't last too long. There's a weird moral at the end, about not worrying if you look cool, but it feels completely tacked on. (I mean, it works for Hibiki's reveal, but it's hardly something that's been threaded through the episode. Well?€? maybe the Asumu story has a beat of it, but it's incredibly minor. I don't know, I guess your mileage may vary.) It's a total fill-in episode. What little series-long monster storytelling exists for this show is mostly set to the side.

But, of course, WHO CARES. This episode killed me stone dead, a triumph of character-driven storytelling that packs an unbelievable amount of fan service into one episode, while still delivering a thrilling monster-exploding climax.

First, let's talk about the music, which makes some incredibly bold choices. To start, the theme song has (to my mind) its first use of a glockenspiel accompaniment, signifying that This Is Going To Be A Weird One. From there, we get screaming hair-metal guitars over Oni swimming in pools, losing the specificity of the characters' signature instruments to make things crazy and upbeat. Nothing about this is like a regular Hibiki episode, tonally, so why not go nuts with the music?

Second, holy shit, Hibiki's bike. (Hibike?) I'm not a gearhead. I don't really care about real-world cars and bikes and vehicles. But maybe I am now, because that thing is gorgeous. Its introduction leads into what's basically a minute-long ad for a motorcycle, but, y'know, it earned it. That deep Hibiki purple! The weight of that design! This is not some dirt bike, or some crotch rocket. This is a beast, and the man who rides it is the king of beasts. It's glorious. It's almost stupid how much this episode deifies Hibiki's bike, but we're halfway through the series and we finally have the title character riding his bike in-costume, so HELL YES you make a big deal out of it. If not this, then what?

The rest of the episode is a non-stop buffet of tiny delights, a group of diverse and appealing characters hanging out and goofing off.

The Hibiki thread is a lot of fun, with Ibuki serving as a way-too-optimistic trainer (You're Doing Great is not helpful advice for someone who's trying to push himself, Ibuki!) and Kasumi bored out of her goddamn mind. She really does feel wasted in this plot, but pointedly so. She's mostly just sitting around, looking gorgeous. (Everyone looks great in this episode, incidentally. Just a handsome, handsome cast.) It's a little unclear why she was brought along, other than to set up the idea that Hibiki is eventually keeping something from her.

And it's cute, that he always fights the Kappa alone because it makes his voice high-pitched and ridiculous, and he doesn't want Kasumi to see him being uncool. Which... does he think she thinks he's cool? I don't think that she's given him that impression! She's seen him be goofy, and weird, and make bad jokes. (Ibuki and Kasumi take about an hour to finally laugh politely at Hibiki's Olympics joke.) But just because we all know that Kasumi doesn't exactly hold Hibiki's personality in the highest esteem, there's no saying that Hibiki knows that. His scenes with Midori paint him as a dude who thinks people look up to him more than they do, when most of his non-Oni antics are tolerated at best, so it's probably dead-on right for him to have some vanity when it comes to Kasumi. I believe it!

(While we're on the topic of headcanons, I would like to reiterate my belief that Sabaki isn't terrible at his job, he's just the most put-upon and overworked Oni in Japan. Sure, Hibiki can take out three Kappa with only a comically-pitched voice to show for it, but Sabaki had just eliminated 40 giants and an entire subdivision of Spider Houses. Dude's winded! He didn't get a day off at the pool, like some Oni.)

The stuff with the rest of the cast at the public pool, it's fantastic. It's just Todoroki being his normal incredibly weird self, swimming three kilometers the wrong way up a lazy river, then hoovering up food that's meant to feed five people; Hinaka trying desperately to make Todoroki at least 15% less weird in front of company; Asumu being oblivious; AsuMum being acutely aware of how oblivious Asumu can be while still finding it a little cute; and Hitomi, who is maybe getting a little worn out with how oblivious Asumu is, and how stressed out she is by constantly saying Oh No We're Just Friends.

I'm a fan of the teen romance subplot on this show. I think it's fun. This episode gives it a lot of attention, in the form of What If Some Cute Boy Noticed How Single Hitomi Is. The kid, Tsutomu, is almost designed to cause friction in the Asumu/Hitomi relationship through his mere presence. He's a cute boy who immediately hits on Hitomi. He's got a connection to the inner workings of Takeshi. He's even got an Oni Salute! He is bad news.

So of course he doesn't really do anything here. (I assume he'll be back. The show made a suspiciously big deal about him.) He says hi, and leaves. I mean, it's not really an episode about resolving or escalating the romantic hijinks, so much as it's trying to remind the viewer that this shit with Asumu has been maybe going on too long. Hitomi's been crushing on New And Improved Asumu for months, and that's after crushing on Sweet But Ineffective Asumu for who knows how long. This status quo is not sustainable. Keeping Hitomi in this kind of limbo, it's going to have consequences for both of them. If Asumu doesn't wise up soon, he's going to lose a friend.

So, yeah, outstanding episode for letting the characters just spread out, be weird, and let stories develop out of that. Really had a great time watching this. Every episode should be a trip to the pool.