Well, there’s another character paired off that isn’t the one we (I at the very least) want to see paired off. Two of them (well – that’s a pair) in fact – Kurihara Osamu and Yamazaki Nanako. I’ve tended to like the episodes centered on Takeo and Rinko’s satellite group of friends as they’re quite natural and realistic, and this one was no exception – though it definitely has the taste of a side dish rather than a main course.
I could definitely see where one might find the “courtship” of Kurihara and Nanako to be on the annoying side, but for me, there was an awful lot of truth in it – especially as compared to the fairy tale romance of the two leads. The two of them are seeming opposites – Kurihara is an irreverent goofball, outgoing and boisterous, and Nanako is a bit of a closed flower. But opposites attract they say, and a great set of gams doesn’t hurt the process either.
The setting for this story is Christmas (I guess if a 2-cour spring show wants to do a X-mas episode, it has to be off-season) at the karoake club, with the full complement of friends on-board. Both Osamu and Nanako admit their interest to the leads, so the group outing quickly devolves into an attempt to set the two of them up. Complicating affairs is that the club had a giant Christmas tree in the courtyard, and the clerk tells Takeo and Rinko that there’s a star at the top which if plucked will guarantee that the plucker’s beloved will accept a confession. What I’m wondering is whether the club’s insurance company has any idea that these types of conversations are taking place.
Here’s the thing: most real teenage (or any age) couples aren’t like Rinko and Takeo (duh). Kurihara is playing it safe, treating Nanako as a “pal” while casually slipping in once-removed hints that he’s interested (my favorite is the emoticon with his afro popping off). It’s a common and understandable defense mechanism for a young boy terrified of being rejected. And Nanako is playing the tsun card, not wanting to commit herself by openly showing affection for Osamu – especially before he takes he plunge and makes his interest official. Again, perfectly understandable for a young girl inexperienced at love.
It can be frustrating to watch this all play out the Christmas party, no doubt – but for me, it’s the most realistic depiction of teen courtship we’ve seen in Ore Monogatari so far. Part of that is because it’s intentionally not trying for realism with Rinko and Takeo, but mostly it’s because that’s just how most 10th-grade couples start out. I had no problem with Nanako finally going on “tilt” and bailing after one-too-many ham-fisted non-confessions by Osamu, nor with Osamu turning to Takeo to help after three sleazy dudes put the moves on Nanako and Rinko in the corridor. But it does leave things in rather an awkward place, and Takeo and Rinko wondering what the right thing to do is. “Be like Suna” is the answer they come up with, and it’s not a bad one – though in the end, Takeo can’t resist direct involvement. It’s just his way.
I’m glad things worked out between those two kids, and their breakneck progression to first base is clearly a way to nudge the main couple down the baseline themselves (sharing a spicy… whatever that was doesn’t count). But standing on the sidelines once more – even more so than usual, in fact – is Suna. I really hope Madhouse is building up to something here, because I’m going to leave this adaptation feeling awfully unfulfilled if they’re not.