I think you can probably group everyone in the industrial world into two groups: those who worry about which armrest to use, and those who don’t. There’s a deeper symbolism to this, and the events of this episode of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun do a pretty good job of illustrating it. It would be hard to imagine two more mismatched people than Seo and Waka, though in some fictional worlds that makes them a perfect fit. I’m not sure what it makes then in this one, but they’re certainly interesting to watch.
If I remember right this is the first episode of Gesshounoku to use all seven of the main cast in prominent roles, and I’d quite like to see it more often because it’s interesting to see their quirks contrasted with each other. Every source seems to list “Romance” as one of the genres for this show but I don’t see that myself – it’s really more about perception of romance – but it is interesting that we have an odd number in the cast no matter which gender you assign everyone. And it seems as if Mikorin is always mentioned as everyone’s second-choice partner – there are three obvious pairings that don’t involve him, but it’s not hard to see him paired off with anyone else in the cast.
Seo and Waka are one of those obvious pairings, certainly, and it’s the nature of just how bizarre the relationships are in Gesshounoku that it’s hard to say if her inviting Waka to a movie constitutes a “date”. Mentally speaking Seo seems to be roughly equivalent to an 11 year-old boy, so if you view her various actions towards Waka in that light, they do have a sort of crush-like quality to them. What we end up with is the rather ironic scenario where Waka is using Nozaki’s manga to try and plan how to “win” against Seo (obviously fruitless), while at the same time Nozaki is using their date as research for the next chapter of his manga (a side-story featuring the “B” couple). The best parts of the date for me are Seo’s unhinged reactions to the more gruesome moments in the Michael Bay-style film, and Waka’s constant consternation of the armrest which he so zealously guards at every turn.
Meanwhile Hori-senpai has heard the Glee Club at work (he initially enters to try and find out for the bashful Waka who Lorelei really is, but forgets all about it) and decides the next play should be a musical. This is a problem for Kashima, who’s truly horrifying as a singer. Naturally she ends up asking Seo for help, and after initially declaring that Kashima should fall to her knees and beg (Kashima has no problem with this) she gives it a go – albeit with earplugs in. The best line of the episode is Seo’s “You can give up now, or you can give up after a year of hard work. Which do you prefer?”
The musical idea abandoned, the actual play (a swashbuckling romance) finds Hori filling in on-stage and engaging in a very spirited duel with Kashima, which leads to a search for someone to replace him. Nozaki is predictably and hilariously disastrous – initially stiff as a robot when acting in civvies, then trying to use judo in a bear suit. In the end Hori turns to Mikoshiba (it feels like ages since we’ve seen him), who’s a natural for the role. But the highlight here is definitely when Hori first roots for Mikorin to kick Kashima’s ass – much to Kashima’s horror – then as a result of the extended exposure to Mikorin’s personality, makes the connection between he and Mamiko.
Despite that bit of enlightenment, misunderstandings are thick in the air here. Waka has convinced himself that Seo (who’s actually Lorelei of course) is the horrendous singer he hears from the clubroom (who’s actually Kashima). And Kashima has convinced herself that Hori-senpai is actually in love with Mikorin – an impression furthered along when Hori is unable to resist calling him “Mami…koshiba” as a result of his earlier epiphany. It’s like a great tangled web of deceit except it’s totally by accident – and the cherry on top is Mikorin “resetting” after 24 hours, forcing Hori-senpai to start from scratch in trying to get Mamikoshiba to not be terrified of him again (and putting an end to the notion that he’s fit to be in the play). Welcome to shoujo manga in the bizarro world…