In short, this episode is basically part one of Maki’s character arc. Shiori gets some of the spotlight, too.
(Spoilers in this review)
The Board of Tourism has managed to secure a production company to shoot a slice-of-life film in Manoyama. It turns out that the director is a stubborn man who always wants his way and is fixated on using a particular run-down house for a climatic scene where the building gets burned down to the ground. However, Shiori has some sort of attachment to said place (it’s basically a ruined shed by now) and is against the torching. In fact, she even lies and says she can’t get in contact with the owners even though they easily gave her permission when she went and asked.
When the actors finally arrive at Manoyama, we discover that the lead heroine, Moe, was Maki’s kouhai but she ended up becoming a bigger film star than Maki ever was. One of the actresses who was intended to be cast in the film end up hurting her leg and Yoshino decides to ask Maki to stand-in for her. However, she just snaps at Yoshino and storms off.
Later on, Maki makes some small talk with Moe, who wasn’t aware that Manoyama is Maki’s hometown. After Moe leaves due to her schedule constraints, Sanae and Maki have a heart-to-heart about Maki’s past, dreams, and current situation…which ends with Sanae chewing out Maki and leaving Maki to feel frustrated. And thus the episode ends.
The series continues with individual character arcs for each member of the fabuluous five. Except this particular episode focuses on both Maki and Shiori. However, Shiori’s conflict is merely due to her attachment to a run-down, desolate building and plays more of a secondary role to Maki’s disappointment and embarassment at failing to “make it” (and the whole film shoot at Manoyama). This might shed a little light on Shiori and her problems, but, again, the episode is primarily centered on Maki.
I’m of the opinion that the show is essentially talking about millennials due to its constant portrayal of disillusioned women who belong to the work force (and who run away). First was Yoshino, who wanted to be more than just a normal girl yet couldn’t even land a single job. Before even securing a source of income, Yoshino believed that she deserved better. She was also insistent that she needed a job in Tokyo in order to escape her countryside origins. Over the first three episodes, however, Yoshino comes to realize that there are things and lessons to be learned in Manoyama that might be so easily found in the big city. So she thus accepts her role as Queen.
Episodes 4 and 5 were about Sanae’s attempt to run away from stressful situations. She had hit a wall in her previous job after realizing that she was essentially replaceable and expendable, which unnerved her. However, Yoshino ends up convincing Sanae that individuals can achieve different results even if they’re doing the same job which probably helps Sanae realize that she should stop running away and just try her best.
Now we’re seeing Maki escape from her home situation (her father is upset that she abandoned college to pursue acting) and from her own passion. She came to realize that she flat out lost to people like Moe in terms of passion for her field. And now she’s older, experienced, broke, and embarrassed that she still hasn’t a big role yet (which explains why her cheeks flushed when Yoshino offered her a role as a stand-in).
There was some advice I heard from some talkative guy in a video on Facebook. Something like, “Don’t play it safe in your twenties. Chase after your dreams and aim big. You’re only young for so long.” And I guess it kind of applies here. Maki tried chasing her dreams when she was younger. But it didn’t pay out and now she’s left bitter (and thinking, “I cudda been a contender”). That’s the part the motivational videos and textbooks don’t mention, you know? I think the Maki arc is off to the right foot (the sense of humor in this episode in particular was spot on) but I guess we will have to see how it progresses.
Side note: Ririko seems to have her hands tied due to her grandmother. She was with the group a whole lot less this episode (and was only allowed to venture out when said guardian headed out to see the film shoot).