I just can’t find it in myself to dislike this arc, or be irritated or even annoyed by it. Rihoko is likable enough and there’s nothing offensive about any of it. Problem is, it doesn’t really feel like a story – and certainly not a romantic one.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a romance anime play out like this. I’m a big fan of slice-of-life – I like patient character building above almost all things and I don’t need lots of action or sex to be satisfied by a story. But this is stretching even me to my limit. Not only is there no romantic spark between Junichi and Rihoko altogether – it doesn’t really seem as if the show is trying in that area – but there’s no dramatic tension in the non-romantic area either. It’s just two childhood friends going about the banal day-to-day existence of high school. Honestly – am I really supposed to find Rihoko’s diet that interesting?
Again, no hard feelings – I enjoyed some of the slice-of-life stuff. New Year’s in Japan is always a fascinating exercise, with all the ritual – the Red & White TV show, the shrine visit, the fortunes. But it’s not much to build an episode on. Just like Rihoko’s gluttony, Junichi’s porn stash and the future of the tea club isn’t much to build an arc on. I can’t even imagine this arc ending credibly with a sexual encounter, with only one ep to go – it just wouldn’t feel feasible at all. But we’ll see what they do with it – mostly the 20th episode will be of interest to me a a segue into the final arc, which will hopefully breathe a little life – and some heat – into this show.