MGX has been a pretty thorough compendium of the first serious teenaged relationship, exploring the topic with its unerring realism hidden beneath a veneer of absurdity. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before we got to the first serious conflict, which seems almost sure to follow on the heels of what we saw this week. I had a funny feeling when we were introduced to Tsubaki’s middle-school crush Hayakawa Aika (Shimura Yu) a few weeks back that it wouldn’t be the last we’d see of her. She seemed like a nice girl, but something just didn’t feel quite right…
If there was any doubt of the symbolism of the drool (there wasn’t in my mind) this episode pretty much spelled it out in no uncertain terms. “Maybe my drool is every bit as sweet?” Oh, my. I suppose there will be a fair share of viewers who blame Tsubaki for what went down this week – and what’s to follow – but I think it’s hardly realistic to condemn someone for feeling temptation. Tsubaki has his perversions, but he’s basically a good kid with very typical vulnerabilities. He’s subject to possessiveness, as many guys (and girls) are. He has a healthy libido and can’t always keep it tightly under wraps. And, as he reveals this week, he’s a little bit too nice and a little bit too naïve. I don’t deny he agreed to do what he did because part of him liked the idea of pretending to be with the girl he was in love with, but basically he got suckered in. and trouble is sure to follow.
Thing is, when Tsubaki’s possessiveness got the better of him he realized it and admitted he was wrong. When he was too forceful with Urabe in her room, he recoiled in horror and fled, ashamed. When Hayakawa offered him her drool (he did ask, to be fair) he stopped himself before tasting it. Is there really any harm in his liking an idol who looks like his girlfriend (or in Urabe being bothered by it)? Was there really any hard in keeping one of Hayakawa’s hairs in an oopa container and sniffing it occasionally? It’s a little perverted, but teenaged boys are a little perverted. And almost everyone is subject to pettiness and jealousy. To face temptation and not act on it and to rationally subdue our selfish impulses is all any normal person can be asked to do, and expecting them to be perfect is a recipe for unhappiness for all concerned.
That’s why I quite literally said “Uh, oh” when Tsubaki told Hayakawa his girlfriend’s name – because it was obvious like a bad smell in the air that she had unsavory ideas about what to do with it. Unlike Tsubaki Hayakawa is acting on her selfish impulses, and deliberately attempting to break up Tsuabki and Urabe – and that makes her fundamentally different from him. He should certainly never have put himself in such a vulnerable position – as a rule of thumb, if you have to say “I better not tell my girlfriend about this” it’s not something you ought to be doing. But I’ll give Hayakawa credit for playing on the pity factor with the fake bruise, and taking advantage of Tsubaki’s kindness. It’s despicable, but she’s thorough, right down to cosplaying as her junior-high self when she meets Tsubaki at the culture festival.
It’s always the coverup that leads to the trouble – not that many guys would have openly told their girlfriends that they were pretending to be their old crush’s boyfriend. Tsubaki knew it was wrong immediately of course, and must share in the blame. Again, the direct source his downfall was Oka, who spilled the beans to Urabe about the falsity of Tsubaki’s supposed shopping trip with Ueno (a teenager “shopping” with another guy instead of being with his GF?). That seems innocently done, but I didn’t like the gleeful look on Oka’s face when she said “Or maybe Tsubaki’s lying to you.” I still say she’s a girl who gets a real thrill out of causing mischief for her friends, and that look didn’t betray anything but mischief. But again, as Tsuabki was the one who lied to Urabe in the first place, ultimately he has to take the fall.
With three eps left after this week, this seems as if it might be the sort of storyline that could carry over until the end of the season – it was certainly our first true cliffhanger. It has the makings of a series-ending arc, and it had me pretty much caught up in the tension and foreboding right from that first meeting with Hayakawa in the park. But these are the sort of trials that kinds go through with relationships, so it wouldn’t be the sort of spot-on relationship study it was if MGX didn’t tackle them. It won’t be much fun waiting for a week to see what happens, though, and I almost hope this doesn’t end up consuming the entire final three eps – as involving as this episode was, it’d be kind of a downer to end the series with three more like it.