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!