For about 23 minutes it looked as if we were more or less looking at a finale centered around the triangle, with the main pairing having been resolved for all intents and purposes. I never quite bought into it, but Ano Natsu did a very good job selling it. Ichika and Kaito seemed very comfortable and happy together, and there was plenty of unresolved conflict to go around the dysfunctional trio. In fact Ichika and Kaito made about the most at-ease and naturally affectionate anime couple I’ve seen in a while, right down to the utterly kawaii way their glasses clinked together when they were moving in for a kiss.
That’s when Remon moved in, unfortunately, and she she has a way of turning up at the most unlikely time in the most inopportune place (teleport, maybe?). I’ll give her full credit for playing the troll card, though, and slipping a condom to Kaito right in front of Ichika was pretty hilarious and brazen, even for her. She’s the most irritating anime troll since Prince Baka from Level E – and let me just point out, he was on Earth posing as a human, too. I’m just saying…
The meat of the episode was certainly dedicated to our lovelorn Girl A, Girl B and Boy B, and rightly so – compared to the MC pair they’re in a pretty bad place. The specter of “forever alone” hangs over this little group like the Sword of Damocles, and they’re all aware of it though they dare not speak it openly. I’ve pretty well been assuming that most of Tetsuro’s actions regarding Kaito and Kanna were a sly way of trying to force the issue to his own benefit, but this was the first time he admitted it openly – though I might add only to Kanna, as he lied about that to Mio only moments earlier. Tetsuro gets a lot of fan love and I like him too, but he’s been a pretty deceitful guy here. He got Ichika into the movie specifically hoping she’d hit it off with Kaito (his efforts there were unnecessary in my view, that ship had already left port) and he “confessed” on Kanna’s benefit to force Kaito to reject her (as I said in this space at the time). At least he has the decency to be ashamed of himself, though it only comes out in the form a disguised confession to Kanna.
Poor Mio. Of the main five in the cast (I don’t count Remon, who appears unmoved by what we would call human emotion) she’s the only one that nobody loves. Kaito and Ichika are the only properly matched couple, but even if he rejects Kanna she at least knows Tetsuro loves her – and Tetsuro may not have Kanna, but he at least knows Mio loves him. That’s why it was so interesting to see events repeat themselves as she pushed Tetsuro to confess – I give Kanna full credit for badgering Ichika into coming clean with Kaito, but it took at least as much courage for Mio to push Tetsuro to do so with Kanna. It may not be totally realistic to see such emotional selflessness from 16 year-olds (Kanna spending days in bed crying is probably more realistic) but it’s still refreshing to see, and these are such well-developed and complex characters that I can’t help but feel for all of them – even Tetsuro, who’s the closest thing to a jerk in the whole menagerie. I know what’s he’s done is wrong – right down to the way he caught Kanna on the rebound when she was at her lowest ebb – but he did it for love, and he’s just a kid.
So what now? I ask that a lot at the end of episodes with this show, which I think is a sign of good pacing. Kanna going right up to Kaito and confessing was a bit of a shocker – my initial reaction was that it was selfish of her to do that knowing his feelings, but I guess she really just needed to get that confession off her chest before she could move on. Kaito was, as ever, straight and honest and did her no unkindness by well-meant lies to spare her feelings. With the arrival of Ichika’s older sister on the scene the love triangle now has some serious competition for prominence in the final arc. I feel as if there’s too much invested in the Kaito-Ichika pairing for it to be torn asunder by such issues as her alien family now, but you never know – gotta keep playing till the final whistle blows. My feeling is still Kaito-Ichika, Tetsuro-Mio, Kanna-??? – but I think the possibility that Tetsuro ends up with neither is emerging as a real contender late. Ano Natsu had so far avoided romcom cliché for the most part and shown a willingness to undertake unconventional development, and just because Tetsuro loves Kanna and Mio loves Tetsuro (and baking naked) there’s no guarantee that one of the recipients will suddenly decide to reciprocate, just because it would be convenient for the story.