Because that’s what Sunohara has always been, and will be always. Especially in this episode, which kicks off a mini-arc that may yet end in actual heartbreak and drama!
In the past I’ve remarked on how genuinely funny Clannad was compared to many of its competitors. Some of this is due to the playful, prankster Tomoya, a trait that sets him apart from almost every other harem lead in other series. But, after watching this episode, I realize that a large chunk of the humor really boiled down to one element: the incredible pleasure of watching Sunohara get whupped, Keitaro-style.
Think about it: the way he’s characterized, he’s asking for it most of the time. He has that comedic combination of swagger and cluelessness, and when combined with lechery he becomes an easy target for all the assertive girls in the cast (Kyou, Tomoyo). While we no longer see the fighting game motifs with his fights with Tomoyo as in the first season–one of the funnier touches in the earlier show–the timing and the circumstances still haven’t changed. No wonder the pair at Koibito Anime do a great job writing advice columns in his name. You can readily imagine his “answers” to any love problems and their violent aftereffects.
So it’s fitting that the only way he can possibly even come close to getting a girlfriend is if it’s fake, a performance for the sake of his younger sister. (How funny is it that he’s deathly afraid of her disapproval?) And the only one he can get is not someone his own age, but Sanae–Nagisa’s mother, who is doing it out of what appears to be pity? Of course, the folks at KyoAni know who they are appealing to: all the fanboys with onee-sama complexes and MILFs. They sure know what they are doing in shots like these:
Otaku pandering? Hell yeah. That it’s still funny is a plus. Especially when she reveals her schoolgirl outfit. Even Tomoya can’t resist. And I’m sure, a million fanboys.
What’s interesting is, actually, the preview–it presents a considerably more serious scene and bears a more serious title. The plot is pretty easy to predict based on that: Sunohara will end up falling in love with Sanae for real, and she will necessarily break his heart once reality sets in. This is the usual fate of boys in stories where they fall in love with a much older woman. It’s usually couched as a loss-of-innocence tale, and come to think of it, Sunohara is a pretty innocent fellow: his swagger was a thin veneer for what we’ve already seen is his extreme inexperience in dating or talking to girls, period. I’m not expecting some huge character revelation or tear-jerking finale. But it’s decent material for a two-episode mini story.
Anyways, I’m looking forward for the “real” After Story to begin, but episodes like these are still reasonably entertaining, if a bit frothy. I’ve got bigger fish to fry with ef this season anyway.