If that wasn’t my favorite anime episode this season, it was certainly Top 3 – and no question, for me the best episode of Ore Monogatari so far. It’s pretty miraculous that this show can pull off being as sweet and earnest as it is without being insufferable, but it does. How? That’s a hard thing to quantify, but I suppose the first thing is that it’s very funny, and pretty often too. There’s also a sense that this is just that little bit tongue-in-cheek – fully aware of what a fairy tale it is, but making that awareness part of the charm. I don’t put it on the same level – either in terms of pure quality or the sardonic edge – but that’s a spin on the formula that The Princess Bride used.
It’s also very important that the characters be likeable for a show to get away with that much sugar – I’d say the threshold is extremely high, in fact – and again, Ore clears it. And I think you can add Ai to the list – I’ve really come to like her a lot, and I hope we see more of her. And this episode does a pretty good job of making the case for why she might actually have fallen for Takeo. You’ve got the whole statue/flower thing, which was extremely sweet (sorry, but that’s the right word), but there’s also the fact that if an older girl (three years in this case) is going to fall for a younger guy, Takeo makes a lot of sense. He looks way older than he is, he does have that sort of Hollywood (or movie Yakuza) look that’s not terribly common in Japan, and he’s as pure-hearted as they come.
If you’d told me last week that the series could make me feel genuinely sad for Ai at losing out on Takeo I’d have said you were crazy, but it really did. Especially when Suna pointed out that if she’d actually let Takeo know how she felt rather than keeping it to herself, he probably would have fallen for her as hard as he did for Yamato. But as bittersweet as that is, the scene where she and Yamato exchange notions of what makes Takeo hot as Suna slowly bails is one of the funniest of the season. And the cherry on top is when Yamato randomly trips and falls (a great little “Oof!” by Han Megumi here) as she’s rushing off to tell Takeo what’s been bothering her.
What has been bothering Rinko? Occam’s Razor definitely applies here – as expected it was nothing truly disturbing at all, and in fact it’s the least unlikely explanation in that she’s simply afraid to tell Takeo she’s warm for his form for fear he’ll think she’s not pure enough. I’m not sure there’s a high school girl in the world – never mind Japan – pure enough to be worried about that, but Ore sells it as believable here. Believably adorable, that is. The funny thing is, when Takeo grabbed her hand and she said “Maybe we could walk like this for a while”, I knew Takeo was going to wrong-hand her and make it into some kind of St. Vitus’ dance, but it still made me ROFL.
I’d say Rinko isn’t as innocent as she looks, but let’s be honest – no one is as innocent as Rinko looks. Yes, she wants to hold hands and snuggle, and “stuff”. And yes, she did stalk Takeo at his school and deliberately forget her cell phone in his room. In other words, she’s a normal teenager despite how she looks (that’s a theme here), and that just makes her more likeable. As for Takeo, the closest he gets to heroism this week is rescuing a cat from a tree – my favorite part of that sequence being that the cat is terrified when Takeo is holding it, but in bliss after it’s handed to Suna (must be a girl) – but while that’s enough to make one suspect that he’s a serial good boy, he’s basically a regular kid too. Just an especially big and altruistic one.
Then we have the final scene of the episode, which was some of the edgiest humor we’ve seen from Ore so far. It was funny, but damn, this is really putting Suna’s bro status to the test, because I don’t know if there’s a teenaged boy in the world – never mind Japan – who’s enough of a bro not to be seriously fucking pissed about what Takeo did to Suna. And by the way kids, don’t try this at home because there’s this thing called asphyxiation… This was definitely played for laughs, but best buds or no Takeo definitely crossed the line (which is just what Suna said to him) there.