Puppies… And kittens.
I see a problem developing with this show for me. I’m liking this first relationship so much that it may close my mind to the other girls’ arcs. It’s a nice worry to have, but still a worry.
Junichi, proving himself the clever lad, has clearly learned two lessons I noted after the second ep. First, his path to Haruka’s heart is by being a puppy. Second, that forehead kisses are extremely underrated. He’s taken the first one a bit more literally than I expected, but hey – it’s certainly working!
This week finds Junichi in a romantic euphoria, riding high off his eyebrow kiss from Haruka. Proving himself once again refreshingly bold and direct, he asks her for another. Not surprisingly she says no – as Junichi’s eyebrows look more like a wolf’s than a puppy’s when he considers the possibility. However, she offers him an enticing alternative – he can kiss her, this time. Provided he can find a good spot and guide them there without meeting any of their friends. Enterprising, Junichi leads her to a small shed, private and spacious and altogether a naughty place if ever one existed. Haruka offers one stipulation – anywhere but the lips – and Junichi surprises her by choosing the back of the knee. Cleverly playing the puppy card, he says it’s because that’s where dogs kiss girls. And then, in one of the most romantic (and surprisingly erotic) scenes of the year, he proceeds to kiss her most enthusiastically, which Haruka appears to thoroughly enjoy – stopping Junichi only when he sets his sights (and lips) a little too high.
Haruka is now quite thoroughly smitten with her new puppy – with his cuteness but also his straightforward interest in her. On the advice of her friend, she decided to play the kitten to his puppy – to let her man spoil her, despite her reservations about his youth. And then, in yet another spectacularly romantic moment, they role-play kidnapper and prisoner with a bowl of shio ramen as a prop, to an audience of slack-jawed kids in the cafeteria.
That was really a wonderful episode all around. Again, I’m so pleased at how refreshingly straightforward the relationship between Junichi and Haruka is – he simply tells her exactly what he wants and what he thinks. Junichi is an excellent lead so far – unusually forceful and bold, while still being considerate of the girl. And Haruka – in addition to being rather sexy – is a joy to watch evolve. Junichi has slowly grown from an afterthought to a formidable figure to her – winning her over when she never would have thought he had a chance. She has her doubts – getting serious with anyone, never mind her junior, is the last thing she’d planned on. But Junichi is proving to be much more than she planned for.
I also want to call out that the knee-kissing scene and the ramen episode were probably the two most erotic scenes of the summer season – despite a minimal amount of fanservice. No jiggly boobs, sharing of spit, breast milk – just the half-innocent art of seduction. This is what romance should be – and no amount of skin and moaning and bodily fluids can make a scene romantic if the characters can’t pull it off.