「初体験です☆」 (Hatsutaiken Desu☆)
“It’s My First Time☆”
Haruka must be really sheltered by her princess-like lifestyle if she’s never had a hamburger before. What’s even more surprising though is that this week is supposedly her and Yuuto’s first date. All those previous Akiba-kei outings don’t count according to Mika, which when you think about it, really means they haven’t had a proper date yet. Somewhat shocking when it’s been 20 episodes since the start of season one.
In any case, Yuuto and Haruka spend a day at a theme park courtesy of tickets provided by Himemiya Miran’s chief manager, Kayahara Yayoi (Hikasa Youko), whom we’ve bumped into back in episode six. Unbeknownst to Haruka, this is Yayoi and her colleague Kobayakawa Nozomi (Kikuchi Kokoro)’s way of taking some professional pictures of her under the guise of a magazine photoshoot event. Having time until the event, Haruka and Yuuto go to the various rides and attractions at the park in accordance to the guide that Mika so kindly provided. At the event, Yayoi quickly finishes Yuuto’s session with a single disposable camera test picture, and calls in all the professional equipment for Haruka’s. Unfortunately for her, Haruka can’t smile naturally under these circumstances, so Yayoi resorts to photographing her when she’s alone with Yuuto.
For their troubles, Yuuto and Haruka are given a photo to keep as a memoria of their date, and decide to wrap things up with a ride on the Ferris wheel when it starts getting dark. During the ride, Yuuto gets an indirect kiss from Haruka’s lip balm, Haruka ends up on top of him when things get rocky, and they nearly kiss if not for Mika’s untimely phone call. At the Nogizaka house some days later, the two of them are looking at Haruka’s picture in a magazine, but they don’t think anything of it until Mika walks in with a letter saying Haruka’s passed Three Piece Production’s future model/idol audition.
Well label me not surprised about their kiss getting interrupted… again. I was hoping Yuuto would tell Mika that she just spoiled a big chance, but he was too flustered to even get upset over it. Instead, he was a bit unhappy about how she set this all up for him. Yes, he was actually discontent about Mika throwing her older sister at him with open arms. *Cue facepalm* Anyway, I’m not sure what Yayoi and Nozomi are hoping to get out of making Haruka an idol, but I can’t imagine her having any interest after finding out how she was tricked into it. I don’t really see Haruka nor Yuuto getting overly angry about being deceived though, as they’re probably more confused than anything else (much like myself). As for Yayoi herself, she’s played by Hikasa Youko (Akimiya Mio from K-ON!), but I had no idea it was her until I looked it up. They don’t sound anything alike to me.
Oddly enough, what I found more interesting than the story this week was the setting. The theme park they were at was basically Yokohama‘s Cosmo World, which I visited during my trip to Japan last summer. It’s located by the water and known for its gigantic “Cosmo Clock 21” — one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the world. That wasn’t the only indication though, as they had also had the aqua-colored fences, photos of the attractions by the entrance, the teacup ride, the water log ride, and the pink roller coaster tracks (which go underground via a hole in the water at one point). I happen to have some photographs from then, so to put Yuuto and Haruka’s date in a realistic perspective, we have the Cosmo Clock 21 from afar, the entrance with the aqua-colored fences, the photos of the attractions (notice the top-left pic of the “diving coaster”), a map of the entire theme park next to the water, the water log ride, and the pink roller coaster tracks. For some reason or another, I find it pretty neat when I can recognize places in an anime.
Back to Nogizaka Haruka, the preview has Inoue Kikuko as some new character talking about Afureko (short for “after recording” a.k.a. dubbing). The huge 17 on the character’s head gives it away that it’s her, plus Kazami Mizuho’s “Saiyuusen Jikou yo” (It’s top priority!) line out of Onegai Teacher! That said, I have no idea who the eternal 17 year-old plays here.