Let’s talk about the pros and cons of a double-length story.
“Drifting Without Side Dishes” is the first time that Space Battleship Tiramisu has dedicated its entire runtime to a single plot. It’s a slightly confusing decision given how much this feels like any other episode, not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that.
The Star Wars-esque opening crawl and flashback sequences initially had me wondering if there would be an epic space battle or further glimpses at Subaru’s (probably tragic) backstory. Although the former technically does occur, our insight is limited almost exclusively to its aftermath: Subaru adrift in space with no way to contact the Tiramisu. His descent into cabin fever might be expected, but the show deserves credit for completely subverting my expectations from there. I’m also impressed by how much odd sequences like Subaru eating rice off the ship’s control stick actually feel true to the character, in light of how his love for his cockpit and food has been portrayed previously.
However, the episode’s premise seems destined to divide opinions due to its reliance on gross-out humor. If you enjoyed the “Mmm… Homer” segment of last year’s Treehouse of Horror, then watching Subaru cover himself in rice to absorb salt from his body will likely be hilarious; I, for one, felt the scene’s absurd tone didn’t feel out of place by Space Battleship Tiramisu’s standards. Nevertheless, as with all comedy, there’s a clear point of diminishing returns here. The viewer is thankfully never shown Subaru trying rice from his “saltiest part”, but even the narrator’s description couldn’t redeem it. In my opinion, this scene surely would’ve been cut if “Drifting Without Side Dishes” were a typical, two-story episode.
Basically, even though Space Battleship Tiramisu can feature only one plot per episode, it shouldn’t simply lengthen ones that don’t need it. Either segment of the premiere, or “Stand in the Universe/I’m Not Alone” are clear examples where additional time could’ve given strong writing even more opportunities to shine; conversely, “Drifting Without Side Dishes” feels anticlimactic knowing that there’s no contrast to its unremarkable story. As mentioned above, perhaps its greatest flaw is that the double-length never feels justified and leaves the impression of having simply watched half of any other installment.
A divisive premise aside, this week’s Space Battleship Tiramisu is an enjoyable episode, but a flawed format experiment.