After a stressful ending to last week’s episode, it seems like everything is mostly okay. Something unfortunate did happen to Haru, but at least Rikuo was there to give her comfort after the events she had experienced and naturally gave her a reason to learn some rather upsetting information. I was originally going to say that this episode really ramped up the drama as Rikuo and Shinako started dating, but when I think about it, we really just got the same amount of drama as normal as both Haru and Rou find out the person they want to be in a relationship is now dating their rival.

I’m glad that both Rikuo and Shinako have decided mutually that they want to give this dating thing a try. Yeah, it’s really awkward and things are moving pretty slow, but both of them do care about each other and want the other to be happy. Everyone takes relationships at their own pace, Rikuo is ready to move a little bit faster, beyond just going on occasional dates and Shinako is much more comfortable spending time with him alone – she’s just not ready to make the jump to the next step. The two seem relatively happy to be together, but it’s clear that some part of them is still doubting the decision. Personally, I don’t know if Rikuo and Shinako’s relationship will last – I think they will both come to realize that the version of each other that they want just isn’t there anymore. Both of them have changed since college and I think both of them would probably be able to have that conversation and end on good terms and still remain friends… at least that’s what I hope if they do break off their relationship.

Currently, I think the biggest struggle that they are facing is not the fact that the relationship is moving slowly, but that both of them don’t want to make it public. It seems like Rikuo has told his co-worker from the studio about the relationship, but otherwise no one else is aware of this until someone in the couple is confronted. And quite frankly, they can opt not to tell others if they choose, in both of their cases they feel guilty not telling Haru and Rou respectively, but it isn’t as if they were trying to date them both at the same time. If anything, both Haru and Rou have been turned down previously. They’re just incredibly hopeful that they still have a chance. So, it’s just an unfortunate situation for everyone involved.

The biggest part of the drama from this episode comes from the discovery of Shinako and Rikuo’s relationship. Haru believes she still has a chance with Rikuo and will continuously come up with reasons to see him. And I don’t blame her for being upset when she finds out! In fact, the blurred animation was pretty powerful, and I felt bad for her! It’s also the moment where both Shinako and Rikuo realize that they really should have told her earlier to avoid her finding out like this. Yeah! It would have still hurt Haru, but it was going to happen eventually. I did like the dialogue that Haru had about Shinako always keeping a hold on Rikuo though. I think part of it came out of the emotion of the moment, but the words did have some weight to them. It’s hard because on the one hand, I feel bad for Haru for finding out in this way, but on the other hand… I don’t think the couple had an obligation to tell her unless there has been more between her and Rikuo than what we’ve seen. Rou’s finding out is pretty similar, but I don’t want to predict what will happen and would rather see how the couple plays it off in the next episode. Being upset over finding out is valid, but the complicated relationship of being childhood friends with your older crush does muddy the waters quite a bit. And… at this point it’s hard to tell what Shinako wants – she has complicated emotions over all her relationships (like all the characters) and sometimes she makes bad decisions and that’s what I enjoy about her – but does she want to not tell Rou to protect him? Or to protect her relationship with his family?

Before I end off this entry, I just wanted to point out that I did like the conversation between Shinako and Rikuo before Rou appeared. It’s interesting because Rikuo is actively trying to change and improve himself as a person so he’s willing to ask her what she thinks he can do to improve. Shinako on the other hand mentions that he’s the same as in college or at the very least that’s who she wants to see – she doesn’t want to expect or ask anything from him. Which is pretty reminiscent about what Haru said in the early episodes of the anime. I’m interested to see if that something that will ultimately lead him back to her if this current relationship doesn’t work out. Either way, it looks like we’re in for a pretty intense episode next week, so I better start getting prepared now!


I live up to my username, but I hope we can be friends!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. TinyRedLeaf

    So much yes to most of the above! I really liked the goofy moments that Rikuo and Shinako shared in this episode, which hinted at the chemistry they potentially share. And, like you, I also found that conversation between Rikuo and Shinako near the end of the episode touching and affirmative. If nothing else, it shows that Rikuo and Shinako do have a chance of becoming a genuine couple, albeit a very slim one.

    Slim, because, like you observed, I think the both of them will indeed come to realise that they’re probably better off as friends rather than a couple. I take the same view as Shinako’s colleague, Morita-sensei, who chided Shinako, saying that if the lack of physical intimacy is enough to make her feel guilty, then she shouldn’t have started dating Rikuo in the first place. But I also like that Morita also said there’s nothing wrong with taking it slow (“You don’t have to force yourself to do anything you don’t want to.”) Sometimes, love takes time to grow. Shinako’s abiding feelings for Yuu, for example, didn’t just happen all of a sudden. It’s the result of the many months she spent being at his side, time enough for her to develop strong feelings for Yuu, despite the boy’s stubborn attempt at the time to keep an emotional distance from everyone around him.

    Basically, if this were just a story about Rikuo and Shinako, then I think there is a chance for their love to grow over the natural course of time. Unfortunately, fate is not kind, and their budding relationship is complicated by the presence of Haru and Rou.

    And because Haru remains on option for Rikuo, there are many people on the interwebs who are furious about how Shinako is basically holding Rikuo hostage in an apparently dead-end relationship. So, that’s something to keep in mind. I’m still firmly on Shinako’s side. She remains a character I deeply sympathise with. But I’m very much in the minority. Most people just outright hate her now for preventing everyone in the story from moving on because of her indecisiveness.

    And speaking of Shinako’s indecisiveness, I have the same questions as you. What is she really trying to protect? Rou from disappointment? Or her link to the Hayakawa family? Whatever her concerns about Rou, for my part, I really hate him for being the selfish and self-entitled brat that he is. It’s even more infuriating how he tries to guilt-trip her into continuing a relationship with him, blaming her for taking care of him out of a sense of duty. Rou is, to me, an absolutely toxic character and his actions never fail to infuriate me. ^^;

    1. Quietcupcake

      I’m really glad that we got wholesome and entertaining moments between Rikuo and Shinako in the episode! And as much as I’d like them to stay together and cultivate their relationship it seems unlikely with Rou and Haru still pining after the two of them respectively. I appreciate Morita-sensei and her wisdom. It’s usually the words that Shinako doesn’t want to hear, but something that she does need to hear. For Shinako in particular, I think it’s important that someone calls her out primarily because it causes her to think about the situation she’s found herself in. Shinako still has a lot to work through from her past and it’s tough to let go, so I’m glad that we had someone say that it’s okay to take things slow. It’s nice to hear every once in a while.

      I’m with you, I’m also on Shinako’s side because I relate to her quite a bit. I appreciate that she’s a complex character with complicated emotions! She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but I’m still very interested in her thoughts and actions! I must admit, it’s kind of a bummer to see that a lot of people don’t like her because she gets in the way of a ship or another characters happiness. To me, her indecisiveness is realistic and I trust that she’ll come to the “right” decision in the end.

      Since the start of the series, Rou is the character that I haven’t really seen anyone be too fond of and I really tried to give to give him the benefit of the doubt… but… as you said he’s selfish, self-entitled,and just downright frustrating! I was hoping that he might have had a chance for self-reflection and change, but he’s pretty much the same as he was in the beginning. At this point, I can only hope that he’ll mature and grow once he enters college.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I really appreciate it! And it makes me happy to see that others are enjoying Shinako too!

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