I'm waxing poetic about over-the-top mom titillation, because the actual direction Do You Love Your Mom has taken is much more wholesome on the surface, but so much more problematic in practice. A trashy anime about a hot and powerful mom is one thing; a slightly less trashy anime trying to communicate broad ideas about motherhood is entirely different, and that's what we've been wrestling with these past two arcs. I'm not going to say that you can't have a story where a son can accidentally catch a glimpse of his mom's thong in one episode and ruminate on how much his mom takes care of him in the next episode. It could (probably) be done. However, Do You Love Your Mom's perspective on motherhood is disappointingly juvenile—it's much more concerned with a feel-good message than with exploring anything nuanced or interesting.
The resolution of Medhi's relationship with her mom is every bit as treacly as I was expecting, stretched thin over the episode's runtime. Masato and his party try to calm down dragon Medhi while Mamako tries to talk some sense into Medhimama. In a scene that echoes her confrontation with Wise's mom, Mamako sympathizes with Medhimama's base motivations: the desire to see your children succeed. She even reminisces on her own doubts about whether she was pushing Masato to succeed or merely pushing him to do what she wanted him to do, and how those desires can get tangled together. I think that's an interesting and complicated part of parenting, and it's nice to have Mamako bring it up, even if the idea isn't explored any further. Medhimama suddenly comes to her senses about how selfish she's been, and it turns out the real culprit was her magic staff amplifying her concerns about her daughter into words and actions that hurt her.
I understand what Do You Love Your Mom is trying to do. It's unequivocally condemning Medhimama's actions while also giving her an out so she can repair her relationship with Medhi, so they can both get a happy ending. The problem is, that's not how real life works. Parents who abuse their children do serious physical and psychological harm, and those things can't be smoothed over with a simple explanation and an apology. Medhimama is portrayed as a kind and loving mother who just got carried away under the influence of an evil magical artifact, which then puts the onus on the monstrous dragon Medhi to forgive her and mend their relationship. These are manipulative tricks that real abusers use to keep their victims around by dangling promises of regret and reconciliation before eventually returning to their toxic behavior. These are tactics meant to make children feel guilty, like they deserve to be abused. Do You Love Your Mom doesn't go this far, and I honestly don't even think it considers Medhimama's behavior in the context of abuse patterns, but this happy ending is a fantasy that relies on a fantastical explanation to work. No child should be forced to forgive and make up with their abusive parents. That's their decision to make.
I acknowledge I'm tackling this subject with more seriousness than Do You Love Your Mom's ever intended, but this is a serious subject that deserves more careful handling, especially from a show that espouses to be about motherhood. What especially hurts this episode is that there are other anime currently airing that handle these topics with more sensitivity and empathy for the children. Astra Lost in Space, for instance, has explored several different kinds of bad parenting, but through a story that focuses on the kids finding strength and salvation through each other, not through reconciliation with their parents. Part of the reason I love found family stories so much is that they emphasize that the concept of “family” is rooted not in how we are related to each other, but in how we relate to each other. Do You Love Your Mom, on the other hand, continues to emphasize that mothers are inherently good because they are mothers. There are plenty of good mothers out there too, but we should expect more than reaffirming platitudes out of stories that attempt to wrestle with the pricklier parts of motherhood.
In short, I'm extremely frustrated with this episode. On the bright side, there are a few good gags that lifted my mood. Wise having to physically drink hundreds of MP potions to do her magic, to the point of pain and consternation, was a decent sendup of RPG tropes. And no modern trapped-in-a-video-game story is complete without poking fun at gacha mechanics. Resident boomer Mamako marvels at the bonus rolls and the piles of potions that Masato and Wise end up winning, while the kids know the true despair of rolling nothing but the lowest-rarity result. Meanwhile, Medhi uses her points to buff her stats instead of rolling the gacha, which obviously ends up being the correct decision. By no stretch does this episode reach the satirical heights of Last Period, but it's an amusing way to fill this arc's denouement.
In the end, Medhi joins Masato's party while Medhimama logs off to delete her parenting blog, which is just about the best conclusion we could have gotten. It sucks that we end up glossing over all the awful things that were done to Medhi, but at least she finally gets to spend some time doing her own thing. I can't believe I'm hoping that we go full throttle into some tasteless mom fanservice with the next arc, but considering the alternative, I'd rather Do You Love Your Mom focus on something it can handle.
Steve is lost in space, but he can still stream anime so it's okay. A communications relay has been established on his Twitter.