The Nanasaki Ai arc ended pleasantly enough this week, though it was a bit of an anti-climax (pun intended). The first half of the episode was taken entirely with Ai and Junichi manning the swim team’s oden booth at the Culture Festival, complete with visits from discerning senpai and drunken sensei. After a hard evening’s work Ai and Junichi dine on the last of their delicious oden – this series definitely has a George Costanza-like fetish for food as a sensual experience – before she led him off on merry journey by bus and trail to a secluded onsen atop a hill. There she finally confessed – he’s dense, Kiddo, but not that dense – dropped her towel and our young lovers made sexy time in the hot springs. It was surprisingly passionless for an actual (implied) love scene, though rather sweet in its way I suppose. Much like the whole arc – Ai was rather sweet but I never got much of a spark from the relationship. Junichi was a bit too “normal” in this arc for my tastes – his lack of quirks made him less interesting than in earlier arcs.
I’m still not quite sold on the “omnibus” format of this series (that Yosuga no Sora – a better show, so far – also seems to be following). It’s inevitable that every viewer is going to like some girls/arcs better than others, so entire blocks of the series are going to be less than gripping. For me I would really rather see something play out “Kanon” style over 26 episodes and watch the main character develop as a result of events and his relationships with the female cast, not arbitrary resets. I haven’t really liked any of the girls as much as the first, Haruka – and that’s been a problem for me as I’ve tried to keep my level of interest steady. Ai was a nice comeback from two sub-par arcs but it still didn’t connect with me as a romance.
We have two more arcs to go, and although there are hints in the preview that the new girl, Rihoko, will be the POV character in the next cycle I assume the basic format will remain in place. For me the most interesting element at this point is to see how the series as a whole is wrapped up. Will there be a “winner”, or will be simply see the final arc end as the prior five did?