At any rate, I'm dividing this one into the spoiler and the non-spoiler comments.
Man, I've seen this episode more times in the past month than I've seen it... well, ever. This episode is not exactly in my top ten list. Or, come to think of it, my top forty. It's not a bad episode. I just don't think there's a lot of there there. It's nice of them to develop the side characters a little. And if there's any side character who deserves it, it's... well, I'd have to say Misaki, actually. But that will have to wait until episode 26. But Maru runs a close second, and his boss arguably sucks more than Misaki's. So I guess it's about time he has an episode to shine, in his own earnest, dorkly way.
I suppose this is also the episode Toriyama gets to shine in. And yet, it's the nature of Toriyama's character that he doesn't get to shine. He's a self-serving dork through and through, so it would be out of character for him to do something openly cool. It's a nice touch, though, that when a real problem arises, he gets over himself and knuckles down to work. Not that he helps -- that's really not, er, his job, really. But he is at least there, part of the team in his own useless way.
(Though I hated the way that he kept smacking Mirai around. It's just so... inconsiderate. Mirai was being honestly concerned for Toriyama's welfare, while Toriyama himself was not only oblivious to Mirai's concern, but didn't even notice that Mirai was standing there. Me? I notice when someone's standing that close to me -- particularly if they're talking to me -- and don't smack into them. Feh.)
Speaking of Mirai... Going back to alienation from episode 18, I felt that in this episode even more than that one, it underscored how much of an outsider Mirai is. So many things that are clear and obvious to everyone else are a complete mystery to Mirai just because he lacks the social background to come to the same conclusions they do. He doesn't see what was wrong with Toriyama's interview with the press, couldn't understand that Toriyama was obviously faking being sick -- and couldn't even read into the rather obvious clue given by the Adjutant showing up in the Direction Room with golf clubs after supposedly being "sick". I suppose it's a positive sign that the group doesn't really notice (or just plain accepts) his complete and total lack of clue. And yet, at the same time that almost makes it all the sadder, I think. They should be noticing that something's amiss. And yet they don't.
This episode does raise an interesting point, though, that I think may not be entirely clear from the dialog. For all his whining, Toriyama does have a valid complaint: he is supposed to be the assistant to the Inspector General. And he isn't. He isn't to such an extent that if he came face to face with his supposed boss, he wouldn't even know. So for all that he's a dork, he is in kind of an unenviable position. There's nothing like being completely unable to do the job one is nominally supposed to be doing.
But in conclusion, I'm afraid my main lingering thought on this episode is that there were a freak-load of signs in it. Fortunately yuusada is the master of Fextracker, so we have awesome signs that swing and fade and look like they're sitting still when in fact they're moving up and down. It's very impressive from a geekly point of view. My virtual hat is off to him.
(Kudos also go to kazuhiko04, who did the groundbreaking work in the opening credits for how to fade off letters being wiped out by a random, ever-changing infinity loop, which made the insanity of the elevator sign a good deal easier to figure out.)
Every time I see it, I wonder what's going through Mirai's head when he's hearing everyone else's description of the Inspector General, since I'm pretty sure he knows just who Sakomizu is. I keep imagining him hearing everyone's stories and holding them up to his mental picture of Sakocchi and scratching his head.
This episode is not at all with the subtle on who the I.G. is, if one cares to look. Pretty much all the "rumors" end up happening in the episode itself. (Except for the chasing people in a Jeep thing... That was just plain weird.) Which was kind of a nice touch, once I realized that was going on. Though the wiping out the brutal aliens with just him and a buddy, I think, is a reference to the time when he first met Zoffy. Not a planet, true. But certainly a bunch of rather nasty aliens.
And about those rumors they were discussing... What's so cool about wiping out a planet of aliens?? I mean, genocide for fun and profit? Really, people. Xenophobia can be taken too far. Or chasing people through a ring of fire? This is not describing someone I would want to hang out with. What are these people thinking?
Anyway, those are my (very disjointed) thoughts on the episode. The next episode is one that lands on the higher end of my favorite episodes list. Otanoshimi ni!