What a fantastic episode! With this, Fumiya is officially best boy, and I am so freaking proud of him! He is finally finding his jam that’s empowering him to be himself in a way he hasn’t been able to do before. Even though he had initially resigned himself to believe the world of “life” is a shitty game, he already had a core set of principles, one of them being what we discussed last week: Sincerity.
We saw that play out today when he responded to Yuzu’s earnest determination to learn how to play TackFam so Shuji could have a practice partner. Because of her sincerity, Fumiya was more than willing to help her out. He coached her, praising what she was already good at (the fundamentals), and critiqued her on what she needed to improve on (her neutral game), while giving her the resources to do so (techniques notes and the stopwatch). The best part about this is that Yuzu wasn’t discouraged by getting her ass kicked, and instead readily accepted all of the help she received, and rigorously followed the practice routine Fumiya suggested her to do, even at school! Just for that alone, I have so much respect for her character.
But my favourite part about their hang out was not the way Fumiya had coached her at TackFam, but how they were willing to converse about what it’s like to be an insider and outsider, opening up to each other by sharing a bit about themselves. When Fumiya talked about how there’s more to life than laughing with friends, Yuzu shared how she can’t see herself feeling that way, because that wouldn’t be like “her”, and she lacks the confidence to change because she had been like this for so long. So Fumiya took his own progress of changing, and threw her a lifeline of hope, both showing and encouraging her that if he can change, so as long as she desires to, she can change too. And that was just the nudge she needed to take her first step, and in a big way.
We saw that play out when when an ugly fight broke out between Shuji and Erika (the most popular girl who she hangs around with). Both of them respectively caused problems relating to intimidation. For Shuji’s case, he intimidated those who wanted to leave to stick around to keep watching until he won. As for Erika, she did the opposite, she blamed Shuji for making them stick around (they could have left whenever) and proceeded to insult both him and the game. And it wasn’t because she was ‘defending’ the other two- oh no, it was fueled out of her own spite towards him because he had rejected her. If that wasn’t enough she proceeded to pressure her peers to “agree” with her.
Sick of hearing TackFam being trashed by someone who had never played it, and her lack of respect for those who strive to improve themselves, Fumiya snapped and just went OFF on her! Oh was it such a beautiful thing to watch. He acknowledged Shuji working his ass off and pointed to the progress he had made, and praised him for continuing to fight with the same character instead of screaming excuses as he did last time. He gave her an earful for laughing at people’s hard work and straight-up told her how he hates people like her who mocks other’s efforts without making their own. And that’s when Yuzu found her courage to follow up and defend TackFam!
SERIOUSLY GIVE THESE TWO A ROUND OF APPLAUSE!!!!
The courage to stand up to Erika probably means she will be banished from their circle, but screw it! Yuzu can do so much better without Erika anyways! Even Shuji was proud of her for standing up to her. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was worried about her in his own way. (Now I’m waiting to find what the heck he thinks of her. He seems to care for her to some degree, but still his hot/cold attitude is making Yuzu is confused, so she isn’t sure what to do.)
But this whole incident wasn’t the only time we got to see Sincerity triumph all. Even though Aoi had given him movie tickets to go on a date with Fuka, you know what he did instead? He stuck to his principles! He came clean to Fuka about their misunderstanding, expressed how he felt he isn’t qualified to read her novel yet, but he is willing to try out Michel Andi’s books. ATTA BOY.
I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to see a protagonist in this kind of story actually think for themselves. Sometimes they rely too much on the one helping them, too afraid to make mistakes and so on and so forth. But not Fumiya. He already has a core set of principles, and he has no intention of changing them. Sincerity is the quality he values most, and he we saw that play out today with Izumi’s earnest determination to improve at TackFam so she could be Shuji’s practice partner, and Shuji’s stubbornness to keeping fighting with the same character over and over again until he finally beats Fumiya.
That’s why I was really happy to see Aoi benched today. It allowed us to see what Fumiya was capable of when he is on his own. We also were able to see more sides of him, such as his ability to listen to others, and his kindness and good in his hear that had been hidden away for far too long. Fumiya is such a likable character, and it is such a pleasure to watch him grow.
It was great to see him try using the tickets Aoi had given him to use with Fuka to go with her instead. It was a great way to make sure those tickets didn’t go to waste– although they kind of did in some respects since Aoi was already scheduled
The last thing I wanted to touch on before I wrap things up was the Aoi’s audio file Fumiya had accidentally switched to. He got to hear how she had been practicing her lines, and was able to recall how she had used them in class during conversations. Again, as I had mentioned last week: When it comes down to memorizing lines like a script to participate in conversations, that’s when it gets iffy for me, but I won’t judge her or anyone for it.
Bearing that in mind, I wonder if this might be setting things up to show us how differently things will turn out for each of them. Fumiya seems to be set on pursuing the path of authenticity, while Aoi seems to be pursuing the path of molding herself to fit in just about any situation, so I’m excited to see how everything will unfold!