We’re long past the point of complaining about the warm and fuzziness of Takeo and Rinko’s relationship – it is what it is. This is not my favorite sort of theme to be honest, but the flipside of that is there have been almost no anime that could pull it off as well as Ore Monogatari has (I think I could count them on one hand). It takes a special sort of series to make a romance this fluffy and cute even tolerable, much less as charming (if a bit one-note) as this show does.
Turns out the Nanako and Osamu interlude was indeed as much about nudging Rinko and Takeo forward as much as about the pair themselves. It’s Osamu’s revelation that he and Nanako kissed on their first date (I loved the gag of Osamu’s Cheshire smile after he closed the door) that prompts Takeo to reassess his absurdly sloth-like progression with Rinko. And we know these two well enough to know that she’s the one who’s really chomping at the bit to move things along.
There are roles for the supporting cast here – Ai-san stops by for the new year (which is of course also Takeo’s birthday), and Takeo’s buddies stop by on the day to hang out (I love the scenes of Takeo hanging with the guys, because they really show off just how much his friends appreciate him). And the Gouda parents are their unusual amusing selves (loved Mom’s knowing look when she told Takeo she’d be leaving he and Rinko alone for five hours). But this episode was definitely about the two main dishes, with a side of Suna, and everything really existed to set their encounter up.
Takeo’s grand plan is to wait until autumn of his third year to kiss (because of course, summer is too soon and winter is too late). When he asks Suna whether he’s kissed or not it triggers hilarious flashbacks of a certain event – all the more hilarious because he’s reading Dostoyevsky at the time. Suna may not have any romantic experience (that we know of) but he unerringly gives the right advice – as a wingman he’s just that good. But when do we get to see him fly the damn plane?
Rinko, natch, is in no mood to wait that long, and the little horndog conspires to steal first base while Takeo is getting ready to blow out the candles. She bakes a cheesecake (a perfect choice, recommended by Suna) and sings the most moe Engrish version of “Happy Birthday” ever (now imagine her doing so in Gon’s voice – the one he used when he was facing off with Neferpitou). Then she steals that kiss while his eyes are closed – but only Takeo could convince himself that he’s actually just been kissed by a bug. “A big, soft” one…
Seriously – thank goodness for Suna really, because without him Takeo just wouldn’t stand a chance. But while it’s his setting of Takeo on the right path that nets the latter a much more satisfying “first” kiss, his reward is to be put in yet another wholly inappropriate situation by Takeo for training purposes. Sooner or later all his brodaciounsess just has to pay off for Suna, you’d think – but for now, he remains the eternal bridesmaid both narratively and romantically.