The Haruka arc concludes with can only be described as a blisteringly fast-paced episode. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it nearly as much as the sweet and absurdly romantic episode 2, but it can’t be accused of not tying up loose ends.
There was a lot revealed here – Haruka and Junichi actually met two years earler when both were depressed, he over being stood up at Christmas and she over the anniversary of the passing of her beloved dog. It just so happens that Junichi was sitting on said dog’s favorite park bench and, although Haruka never knew Junichi’s name, the meeting left a significant impression on both of them. We also learned that her grandfather is English, and that she’s a pretty sneaky girl. She convinced Junichi that he was meeting her family for Christmas Eve, got him worked up with a swimming session at a hotel pool, and maneuvered him into a hotel room with no family – just the two of them, beds and a giant bathtub.
I must confess that things felt a bit rushed to me, which I suppose is to be expected when you have to cram an entire relationship into one four-episode arc. Haruka’s insecurity over Junichi’s failure to confess again seemed an overreaction to me – smart as she is, Haruka couldn’t possibly have thought he wasn’t crazy about her. The advance from knee-kissing to declarations of love happened a little too fast, and then we’re treated to a ten-year time jump that finds the two of them married and apparently still engaging in kinky love games (well OK, that part was pretty cute).
I think this points up one of the major flaws of a premise like this, and why it often works better as a game than an anime – just when one arc is starting to get really interesting (this one clearly peaked in episode 3) we have to rush to a conclusion and get on with the next one. That said, I did enjoy this first arc a lot, and there were charming elements to the finale. The fated encounter at the park two years earlier was a nice touch, and added a layer of mystique to their relationship. I wish we could have seen it develop over a few more eps, but it’s time to move on – and I am looking forward to the rest of the girls, starting with the osananajimi path, the Karou arc.