Episode 17 brings a new arc, a new girl (Sakurai Rihoko) and a new ED featuring her. In addition, we get a slight change in format as Rihoko becomes the primary POV character, not Junichi.
I’ve already expressed my reservations about the omnibus narrative style, on display in a more conventional fashion here than in Yosuga no Sora. While the resets are starting to feel a little old, there’s a certain curiosity in seeing which Junichi will show up each time. So far he seems closest to the last arc – a basically normal horndog teenager, but there are elements of the snarky Junichi from the Kaoru arc as well. And why not – this is the “childhood friend” arc, so there are some obvious similarities in the circumstances.
As for Rihoko, she neatly checks off some of the boxes for the series. Childhood friend, clumsy girl, airhead, slightly tubby chowhound. Junichi has clearly known her since elementary school days (seen via a flashback where he tried to turn her into a meat bun – no comment necessary) so there’s a comfort level there. The twist this time is that the girl has known all along that she was in love with him, though it appears to have been completely unreciprocated. The plot contrivance this week was Junichi helping Rihoko out of a “Winnie-the-Pooh”-like dilemma, stuck under a fence sneaking into school. We got the obligatory pantsu jokes and razzing by Junichi, but he was fairly gallant in helping her escape. This incident compels Rihoko to go on a diet – mainly to look good for Junichi of course – but that’s apparently been a running gag in her life. So far this diet isn’t looking much more promising than the prior diets were.
On the whole it was fine – Rihoko was likeably unpretentious enough, though the fat jokes grew old pretty fast. As always, we’ll just have to see where they take things over the next three episodes. And if you don’t like this girl, why, it’s like we used to say about the weather in Chicago – just wait a little bit and it will change!