I think we can safely call that beat skipped.
Ore Monogatari continues to dance a tightrope between parody and earnestness with exceptional dexterity. This is a funny sort of romance series in both senses, not quite like any I’ve seen before. There’s a lot about it that seems familiar at first glance, but it has a funny way of approaching everything about the genre from a slightly odd angle. You feel like you’ve seen all this before, but somehow it feels different.
The trope up for treatment this week is the beach episode, and it gives the series plenty of chances to indulge its peculiarly charming sense of humor. Between Suna’s sidelong glances and Han Megumi’s squeals (yes, this is the same actor who played the Gon-Neferpitou showdown scene), I don’t know which makes me laugh harder – it’s damn close. The romance angle of the series tends to put Rinko in the spotlight more than Takeo, but there’s definitely plenty of focus to go around in this episode.
It continues to be the case that the main couple here don’t have a whole lot of secrets from the audience – they both wear their hearts on their sleeves, and there are thus very few surprises with these two. I keep wondering if that’s going to place a limiter on how much mileage the show can get out of their pairing, but so far there are no signs it’s approaching, at least for me. The nice twist here is that Rinko is so open with her feelings for Takeo – she thinks nothing of calling him hot to her friends, and waxing poetical about what the notion of seeing his nekkid pecs and abs (“Like an ice cube tray!” gush the housewives) will do to her. And her instinctual choice in swimsuit apparel reflects that this is a girl who’s very much in touch with her hormonal overload.
By contrast (and by contrast with his appearance) Takeo remains very much the innocent schoolboy. Summer to him is about radio callisthenics, cold noodles and ice cream. And the beach isn’t about ogling girls in swimsuits – it’s the watermelon game, and swimming, and catching crabs (stop it – don’t go there). But (despite evidence to the contrary) the man is not made of stone – when he sees Rinko in her suit (a more demure model than her original choices, but still cute) his body reacts as one might expect it to. Still – it’s Rinko’s overheated reaction to his body that provides the more entertaining aspect. We also get to see Takeo blow up a float with one puff and provide a one man aquatic tilt-a-whirl for a gaggle of adoring elementary-schoolers, and proof that Suna’s limitless appeal to the female gender applies not just to cougars, but the opposite end of the age spectrum too.
These two and their mismatched mating dance really are fun, and we even get to see them almost kiss before Takeo’s posse shows up to lip-block him. But as usual it’s even more interesting to see Suna’s bemused reactions to their awkward courtship. Sometimes one wonders “Just what is he thinking?” when Suna flashes one of his sidelong glances, but there’s not much mystery here. Still, you can’t help but wonder – is he immune to these sorts of considerations? Is there something simmering away inside there. or is Suna really content to wryly observe the adolescent fumblings of others? It feels like the Takeo-Rinko courtship is really the opening act and the eventual unraveling of Suna’s heart the main event, because there’s really no mystery to the first one and nothing but mystery to the second.
One welcome benefit to the beach trip is that it allows Rinko and Takeo’s friends to enter the story in a more meaningful way, which for me is a positive – I think the nature of the premise here means the more diversification we see in Ore Monogarari, the better. For now they’re mainly comic relief, which purpose they serve quite well, but I’m hoping this is building to something more – if not a development with Suna, then some sort of secondary romance (perhaps with Afro-kun and Nanako) to give the story a chance to step back from the ever-present lovey-doviness of the main pairing.