This episode started out a bit… off for me. After spending the past four episodes developing each member of the main cast, I thought their next move was to continue to focus on those four and their interactions with each other. Instead we got a mysterious 5th character who has some sort of tie of Shinako, Haru, and Rikuo (rip to Rou). It felt weird getting introduced to a character who seemed like he was going to be a rival after the episodes that we previously had, but once everything started falling into place at the end I’m glad that he didn’t turn into a new love interest, but rather someone whose moving forward without regret.
I must admit, I think the beginning of the episode had a rocky start for me. It felt like we were just thrown into something and I had no idea what to expect. Suddenly Rikuo gets a job at a photography gallery and we’re introduced to his new co-worker who happens to recognize Haru. It wasn’t really explained until later in the episode as to why Rikuo suddenly got another job – personally, I haven’t seen very much growth from the “societal failure so I’ll stay in limbo” Rikuo that we met in episode one (which is fine). Yeah, we know that he likes photography, but this addition just felt so sudden that I’m not really sure how to take it. As for his new co-worker, Minato? It took me a very long time to warm up to him… though I did like the comparisons that I could make between him and Haru. Obviously, they’re pretty much complete opposites when it comes to outward personality, but when you take into account the actions they both take to pursue their love interest? It’s pretty much the same and I think his presence allowed both Haru and Rikuo to have some realizations.
It’s very interesting seeing a character so different from Haru but so similar in actions. Minato is a shy, quiet kid who can be a jerk sometimes. But he’s suddenly reunited with the girl he had a crush on in high school who dropped out suddenly and he thought he would never see again. Haru is a boisterous, outgoing girl who is willing to put her all into what she’s trying to get. In this case, she wants Rikuo, the person she met a while ago and fell in love with at that time. And so, Minato and Haru pursue their romantic interest. Haru has been showing up at Rikuo’s work constantly and is gives a lot of her free time to being around him. She makes him very aware that she’s there for him. Minato on the other hand comes to Haru’s job, but rather than pestering her the whole time he seems to just exist until he gets the chance to walk her home. Because of this, I think it was nice for Haru to see her own romantic plan from another perspective. Is it exactly the same? No, but they were still solidly similar.
At the very least, we start diving into jealousy territory for Rikuo. In the first couple episodes he was in the state of “stop bothering me” with Haru, but it seems that her persistence is working as he’s starting to get flustered seeing her around other people. Perhaps he doesn’t have romantic feelings for her yet, but that’s the direction we’re going. As much as a pain that Haru has been for him, it’s his pain. Honestly, I think it was pretty childish of Rikuo to act the way that he did. Yeah, he usually gets Haru’s attention, but they aren’t actually dating so the fact that she’s walking home with your co-worker… why would that be a problem? Plus, you’re walking home with the girl you’re also still pining for… I dunno, romance is weird, and I won’t pretend to be an expert on it.
As much as the beginning of the episode didn’t feel quite right with me, I did enjoy the conversation with Minato and Haru out by the sea. The answer to his question could have gone either way, but I do think that Haru’s answer was the best answer she could give. Having her acknowledge that she believes she’s a second choice hurt, but her sentiment of giving it her all was honest enough that I hope she can reach Rikuo sometime. Additionally, I did like how Minato took the answer. it could have definitely turned into a “well! I won’t give up!” type situation, but having it become a moment of closure just felt really nice. I wonder if we’ll see him again…
Overall, this episode was solid, though it felt a bit like an off shoot. We’re introduced to a new character and by the end of it we have no clue if we’re going to meet again. But he did serve to solidify some feelings for Rikuo and Haru. I wonder where our focus will be in the next episode!