「ファーストキス」 (Faasuto Kisu)
It just had to be an Ultraman mask didn’t it? If I were in Sumika’s shoes, I would’ve ripped that mask off Ushio’s face at the last moment before going in for the “kill”.
First off, it’s probably worth pointing out that the episode elongated a lot of scenes to fill the full twenty minutes, but the extended freeze frames weren’t that bad while watching it. As the title suggests, Ushio is concerned about her first kiss and hoping it’ll be with the female Akemiya Masaki. In order to prepare herself for it, she decides to practice the art of kissing. Much to Sumika’s dismay, Ushio discounts her as a potential practice partner due to her height, causing Sumika to vent out her uncontrollable desire to kiss Ushio with karate. As an unexpected twist of fate, Ushio misunderstands Sumika having an interest in Masaki and volunteers to be a kissing partner for her sake. While not quite what she was hoping for, Sumika goes through with the practice kiss, mask and all.
It’s such a simple theme, but they played it up so well here. The whole emphasis on the sunset classroom setting and Sumika’s unrequited love for Ushio was very pronounced, yet they managed to slip in timely comedic moments without terribly disrupting the mood. This goes for Ushio’s willingness to practice with a skeleton dummy over Sumika, Sumika’s inability to accept that fact, and Masaki’s secret that Ushio’s still oblivious about. At the same time, they concluded the episode with a really sweet scene using Ushio’s naivety. While far from her original intention, it’s just what Sumika needed to calm her desires at that point. Unfortunately for her though, that only lasted until she realized she wants the real deal now.
This time around, we also got to see more of the established yuri couple of the series, Hachisuka Tomoe (Harada Hitomi) and Taema Miyako (Saitou Chiwa). Other than helping convey the importance of a sunset setting, they still haven’t become major players in the series yet. However, I expect that to change now, seeing how they’ve stumbled upon Sumika and Ushio’s after school practice session. The preview also hints at their increased involvement next time.
On another note, Kiyoura Natsumi’s OP/ED single for the series, “Kanashii Hodo Aoku / Niji-iro Pocket”, was released yesterday as well. In additon to the aforementioned songs, it also features a third, titled 「すぐそこにみえるもの」 “Sugu Soko ni Mieru Mono”. For its instrumental version, there’s a piano solo performed by Kubota Mina, whose notable works include “Undine” and “Euphoria” from the ultimate slice-of-life ARIA series. Given Natsumi’s style of music (which is very Makino Yui-like), you wouldn’t normally expect it to be coming from 19 year-old, but surprisingly it does. She also looks really cute in the CD jacket, more so than I remember her to be anyway.