Without question, the writing staff over at AIC know exactly what they have with Haruka, opening the episode with “Hey, look at her Man. She’s really hot!” – which just about says it all – and titling it “Sexy”.
I try to be as open-minded as I can, but I must admit I’m genuinely baffled that there are viewers who prefer any of the other girls in the cast to Haruka, the God-Queen of all that is sexy, sweet and lovable. The show is utterly transformed by her presence – the writing is sharper and funnier, it’s much, much sexier, and the chemistry with the leads is an order of magnitude greater. I even like Junichi when he’s with Haruka – his oversexed puppy mode is by far his most likable personality. I can honestly say I’d like to watch an entire romcom built around these two as a couple.
What is it about Haruka? Well, there’s the obvious – she’s absolutely gorgeous and absolutely sexy, and she breaks free of the nonsense tropes we see anime heroines bound to. She’s not dumb, she’s neither tsun or dere, she’s got a healthy interest in sex to match her boyfriends without being a nympho, and she goes through life looking like she’s in on a joke she can’t wait to tell you. Plain and simply, I adore her – I have very few anime crushes, but she’s one of them. Of course none of that would matter if Kimura Noboru hadn’t written a good premise around her, but fortunately he’s cooked up a clever and entertaining story that’s just serious enough without being heavy.
One thing I do wonder sometimes about this season is if the final episodes of the S1 arcs really happened, because these couples definitely don’t act like ones that have already had sex (as most of the S1 pairings did, even not counting the timeskip epilogues). Nonetheless I do like the awkwardness mixed with intimacy that forms the heart of the Junichi-Haruka relationship, and they even return to the scene of the “crime” here – the scene being the shed and the crime being the knee-kissing scene from S1, one of the most erotic moments in mainstream anime last year (and proof that sensuality beats porn every time). No fun with ramen yet, but there’s still next week’s finale.
The overall premise here involves Haruka’s desire to get proposed to on her graduation, as her one-year-older English cousin “Sexy Jessica Morishima” did. It starts out with an innocuous offer to Junichi to meet her parents, but when Haruka gets together with best friend Tsukahara (Asakawa Yuu) the wheels really start turning and Haruka ropes Tsukahara into a series of increasingly ornate fantasy role-plays – a mock wedding (Yuno? Is that you?), a pregnancy, a family dinner with Tsukahara as the daughter… It should be slightly disturbing but this fantasy aspect of the romance is so intrinsic that it feels natural and organic – though I do have mixed feelings for Junichi’s sake. He certainly is the luckiest guy in the world to have this girl want to stampede him into proposing, but that isn’t really something a guy who’s not even a senior in high-school should have to think about…
The fun goes on overload when Sexy Jessie shows up in Japan for Haruka’s graduation, and indeed she does look like Haruka with blond hair and blue eyes (Junichi’s Doublemint Gum fantasies are written all over his face). There’s some Engrish (better than unusual) and Jessica generally acts like a tease and plays up the blonde foreigner stereotype to its sexy hilt. She also acts to try and nudge Junichi into popping the question, trying to frighten him with stories of English boys just waiting to steal Haruka’s heart. But Haruka’s reaction is refreshing as always, laughing it off and telling him he has nothing to worry about – she isn’t thinking of anyone else but him.
The series wrap looks like it’s going to be staged around Haruka’s first visit to Junichi’s house, with Miya conveniently staying over at a friend’s (again – did that hotel scene in S1 actually happen?). I can’t help but wonder if Jessica might return from her sightseeing trip to Kyoto a little early and walk in on them, not that Junichi would mind too much. With these two, there just isn’t a need for a lot of padding and big roles for the rest of the cast, so a simple episode staged at Junichi’s house should work splendidly. I’m just hoping we get another end card anywhere close to this one.