I’d hate to think that this is going to be the routine for Sukitte Ii na yo: Mei encounters something unpleasant about Yamato or his world, and gets all grumpy until they make up at the end.
Okay, that’s not really fair. There were differences between Mei’s past blue funks and the righteous anger she experienced this time. And I must say that Yamato does have some interesting, if unpleasant friends. It’s clear early on that Hayakawa is a tool, even before he meets Mei; it also comes as no surprise that he has friends like this. None of the people he hangs out with so far have been people I’d like to meet on a regular basis, no, scratch that comment; it’s as superficial as Hayakawa’s mindset. It’s interesting to watch Yamato here, clearly reluctant to have Hayakawa meet Mei, as I would, but leaving it up to Mei. Maybe it’ll turn out all right, he’s thinking. Then at the lunch he talks about Mei almost like she’s a pet he’s training. And after Mei gets pissed off (Wonderful bit. No shouting, just deleting his phone number, saying a few disdainful words, slapping money down, and leaving, exactly what she should do) and leaves (not mopey, not sad, but rightfully angry) he at least shows some more anger and concern on her behalf, not faked, and he has the injured hand to prove it. I’m more convinced that he’s sincere about Mei now, but I’m worried that he’s treating her like a project rather than a girlfriend. But at least his more superficial friends are getting the message that this relationship is for real.
But maybe to prove that Yamato doesn’t surround himself with just losers, we get more screentime with Aiko. She spends time chatting with Hayakawa about Mei, and one of them says something about there only being three left. I assume they’re talking about the superficial lovers club, but that wouldn’t be fair to Aoki. Aoki and Hayakawa have a fight. She calls him superficial, so he mocks her weight issues, thus conceding to debate. Mei steps in to defend her, and now we got a scene that steps out of the shoujo romance routine. Mei speaks some simple truths that Hayakawa can’t handle, then does the same to Aoki. I loved Aoki’s response. She switches to her disdainful (defensive) stance. She tried for Yamato and failed, she can’t believe that this little thing standing before her has gotten him instead. She’s jealous and angry, but she’s also resigned to the fact that she’s already lost, and isn’t crazy about seeing Mei and Yamato together, in other words, unpleasant but understandably human. It’s a good scene that cuts through the stereotypes that Aoki could have represented and makes her a strong character in this series. I’m hoping we’ll see more her and less of Hayakawa, who’s just a little too villainous for my taste. Besides, he has poor table manners.
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! 5 is a “must pass exam or (insert terrible fate here)” episode. It goes the way you’d expect. Rikka tries every trick in the book to avoid studying until she realizes it’s hopeless and then knuckles down and studies. Normally these sort of episodes bug me. I keep wanting to give Rikka a hard shake and shout “study damn it!” Quite like I did with K-ON (“rehearse, damn it!”). But this episode is saved by things that happen along the way, including the usual antics from the other club members. They only got in the way, but the distractions are amusing enough that it made me relax. I liked the pool business especially. And we got a few looks at the humans behind the affectations, like Rikka as she grew more and more desperate, and the realization Yuuta makes about her: she has so few people she can depend on, a fact subtexted into a phone number exchange. Toori gets a couple of revealing moments talking with Yuuta, a brief moment where she can express concern for her sister and gratitude toward Yuuta without saying so, not to mention playing divorce with Yumeha. And the show works a little more on the concept that all that dark flame master stuff might be embarrassing nonsense, but was fun at the time, and maybe fun now if done sparingly. It’s a routine plot made nearly great by the characters and direction, as usual. I just wish Yuuta had more to do than play straight man.
Two more episodes of Joshiraku appear after a silence. Not much to say. Vacationing in the dressing room, school swimsuits, a trip to Musashi-Sakai, which looks pretty dull, actually. Also a giant Christmas tree and jungle battles amongst the branches. On to episode 12 where Kukuru can’t sleep so hasn’t had her New Years dream yet, leading to what the lucky items in those dreams are after Mr. Fuji, eggplants, etc. Our trip is to Roppongi Hills, which seems to have some interesting modern art, and Marii is rather violently thrown back to the bubble age in a scene more poignant than most. Finally, it’s too hot so they try to keep cool.
Then there was this: