I want to talk about one of the more restrained and ultimately sweetest episodes of this relaxing, warm-hearted romance. Mao fans like me sure are happy!
Oh, sure, I had my doubts about that; I see that at least one person didn’t appreciate the wishy-washy way she handled the whole bit with Kai-kun in the past few episodes. Maybe it’s because I like her so much, but I found that emotional confusion and indecision forgivable, if a bit frustrating. Let’s remember that not only are we speaking from the perspective of the observer audience, but that the vast majority of anime characters are teenagers–kids–and going through that kind of confusion is not only believable but to be expected. Some of it grows out of, in this particular case, the standard anime romance scenario of childhood friends-cum-fake sibling relationship Mao and Kouichi have, something that should have long been resolved or broken were it real life. You can only live in denial for so long, and it’s only here that we are starting to see it break apart for her, though Kouichi seems oblivious so far and genuinely has none of those kind of feelings for her. But it’s pretty clear that Mao is going to have to make her choice pretty soon, and all signs are really pointing to Kouichi, not Kai, as the winner.
My hunch is based on the pattern that all the main characters seem to be having–a “true” love and a “distraction” person. For Kazuki, it’s Sakino the soccer player vs the anti-social genius. For Mao, it’s Kai vs Kouichi. For Kouichi, it’s Yuumi and…Mao? Usually the person finds the “distraction” fascinating in some way: very different, dangerous, or a combination of the two. The one who is the “true” love often ends up being the one he or she is most comfortable with already, and you can tell that by the number of arguments, time spent, and casualness of the relationship. This is, for anime romance at any rate, refreshingly realistic. Those are the people most tend to marry and have successful marriages with, or at least long-lasting relationships; not the mysterious dark stranger or the remote, pretty princess but the ones who are beside us already. It hopefully also goes against the standard anime trope of the childhood friend getting screwed.
I really liked how quiet this episode was; a fine solo piano soundtrack which accentuated the rainy mood and almost, just almost, reminded me of Honey and Clover. The way Kouichi and Mao talked when she took care of him was also well-paced and well-written; the near-kiss felt earned; no accident it is coming so late in the game too–but wait, I just realized this show is slated for another season. Are we in for a revolving relationship roller coaster ride?
Note: It’s actually been a while since I saw the episode, so I can’t seem to remember much more about it. The writing of this review, which was originally supposed to my debut post-hiatus entry, was actually interrupted by my father’s sudden illness–literally; I was typing it when he fell ill. I hope to get to regular episode reviewage soon! (Starting with ef 9-10, which I need to talk about…and probably rewatch to see if I understood it correctly.)