Holy shit this episode had so many things go down my brain is having trouble processing all of them.
First of all, Hina. Fucking Hina. She may have been quiet for the last few episodes, but the walking disaster zone is back and better than ever in this one. The fact that Shuu was originally her high school teacher is such a weird detail to add and I don’t know how to feel about it yet. There’s so much to unpack there. Is this meant to be a Freudian explanation for her fixation on Natsuo? Regardless, it certainly casts their relationship in a bit of a different light, not that it wasn’t deeply questionable to begin with. Also, now I’m even more confused about her relationship with Shuu. Could you consider him to have groomed her? Maybe not, but it’s still pretty unethical. It don’t sit right, that’s for sure. And the biggest question of all: why was Shuu, a high school teacher, carrying around a hand puppet to cheer up teenagers? And why did it work? Nobody’s reactions to anything make sense in this series.
Which brings me to that beach scene! What the hell was that? First of all, wow, that’s a little dramatic on Hina’s part, rejecting him with a double suicide threat. Second of all, how is it that she gets to play the voice of reason when she’s the one who asked Natsuo on a date in the first place? God damn Hina, get it together.
Despite Hina’s antics, though, Natsuo once again wins the cringe crown of the episode (that makes 7 episodes running now, give him a round of applause folks) for writing an actual, entire novel about how he’s in love with his stepsister/teacher. Masterfully done as usual, Natsuo. Bravo. Kill me. This was a pretty amazing initial reaction, too:
Like no, I’m sure he writes angsty novels about all his good friends.
I’m not sure whether how straight they’re playing the “forbidden age gap romance” thing here, but I’m really don’t buy that Hina’s feelings for Natsuo (and vice-versa) can be genuine, though I’m sure she thinks they are. Honestly, what did they know about each other before she first kissed him? Not a ton. To me it seems like she’s responding to the attention he gives her more than anything else. She’s a lonely, sad woman who’s just out of an emotionally unfulfilling and probably abusive relationship, and she’s latched onto this boy who worships her despite her huge, glaring flaws. It’s understandable, but it’s not real and it’s certainly not healthy. I hope Hina doesn’t win but I’m becoming increasingly convinced that she’s secured her position.
I actually feel kind of bad for Rui, who keeps pulling crazy stunts in a bid to stay relevant in the Natsuobowl but is just barely clinging on all the same. She simply can’t compete against natural drama magnets like Hina and Natsuo. It’s not her fault. I still love you, Rui. But pls, have some dignity.
Runner-up cringe prize also goes to Natsuo for the entire second half of the episode. He was really channelling his inner Mankoto there, getting Rui and Hina in the same day. I can tell this situation with Rui has already sown the seeds for what will perhaps be the cringiest moments in all history. I’m not sure my soul can take much more as it is.
As a final thought, what was with Natsuo’s bizarre reaction to walking in on Hina wanking? I get that it’s pretty embarrassing and it was hard to watch for many reasons, but does it warrant such horror and anguish (okay the “Shuu” moan I understand being perturbed by, but he looked like he’d seen a murder even before that)? He looks like he’s going to throw up. The dramatic music was surely a little unwarranted, too. She did look pretty strange though. Such awkward masturbation hasn’t been seen since Nina Einstein. It took me a while to even figure out that that’s what she was doing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if next episode ended up being a little quieter, because this one had enough action for an entire season of most romance anime. Damn though, I’m having a great time with this.