「身体が、熱いんです……」 (Shintai ga, Atsuin Desu……)
“My Body is Hot……”
All this talk about Gentou and Akiho kissing on the legendary rendevous cape (ouse-misaki 逢瀬岬) during the first sunrise of the new year, and all we get from Yuuto and Haruka is a peck on the cheek. It was the perfect moment with the perfect setting. Can you say, weak sauce? -_-;
I jest, but it’s hard to overlook the opportunity they let slip by. It was also New Years of all things, following their first shrine visit of the year (hatsumoude 初詣で), where they both received awesome fortunes (courtesy of Mika and crew). While this outcome does keep things innocent between them, Haruka was feeling all hot and bothered lying on top of Yuuto in her underwear. Why she had to take off her kimono completely just to re-tie her obi is beyond me, but it did allow the two of them to get caught up in the moment. It’s a shame they’re never able to go through with a kiss though, and even more of a shame that I already know it’s not going to happen. They’ve teased us with this routine long enough that I’ve long given up on expecting anything out of it. Instead, I simply wait for how they’re going to be interrupted. Consequently, it was a banner falling on Yuuto’s head this time. Next time, it might be an airplane. Now that would be a real shocker!
The rest of the episode was pretty standard affair, with Haruka being dragged around by her juniors before finally getting to spend some time with Yuuto alone. The biggest surprise to me though was the appearance of Himemiya Miran in the actual show. For some reason or another, I’ve been under the impression that Himemiya Miran and the Chocolate Rockers are an actual pop group, but it turns out she’s a character created for the Nogizaka Haruka world. My misconception here has blinded me from realizing that it’s been Nabatame Hitomi singing the opening theme for both this series and the original. It’s pretty sad that I only realized this now too (and not a year ago), but I’ll cast that off as simply “not caring enough to bother taking notice”. Hitomi voices Yuuto’s alcohlic sister Ruko as well, so the thought of her being this anime persona as well was the farthest thing from my mind. In my defense though, Hitomi wasn’t explicitly credited in the original opening single. Anyway, Miran has a cameo here more than anything else, running into Yuuto and Haruka while hiding from her manager.
Lastly, it looks like Shiina isn’t completely down and out quite yet. Her new year’s fortune has her re-energized over a prospective sudden development in the romance department. Hopefully this translates into some more screentime for her at the very least, since she’s been sidelined for most of this sequel. In any case, it looks like the pace of the series has drifted well back to its season one roots, which is a nice change from their early flurry of fan-service.