「迷い猫、泳いだ」 (Mayoi Neko, Oyoida)
“Stray Cat, Swam”
It’s not often I can say I enjoy eating my own words, but after I poked fun at how this series was getting pretty random last episode, AIC comes back with an episode about orphans and the love square that develops. It wasn’t even intended to be reverse psychology on myself since I enjoyed the Power Blocks episode more than I care to admit; however, having things back on track about Nozomi’s first visit to the beach is still a nice change of pace. The best part was, in spite of all early signs indicating that this was going to be your run-of-the-mill “beach episode” — which it more or less was thanks to Chise hitting up all the typical beach activities — it ended up offering something in the romance department as well. For what it’s worth, the first fan-service-oriented half did start to work the story from that angle with Nozomi clinging onto Takumi and getting Fumino and Chise all riled up out of jealousy. Once Nozomi was happy with her first beach outing and Chise selfishly decided that everyone’s going to stay overnight for the full-blown experience, things got even better as Takumi and Fumino had a really nice stroll on the beach together.
Fumino may still be completely dishonest with her feelings for Takumi and be the main reason why their relationship hasn’t gone anywhere, but they sure did look good together there. It was rather convenient for them to follow that up with a boat ride and wind up stranded on a small island when it started pouring, but I’m not complaining when putting them together in a rickety shack out in the middle or nowhere was the perfect setting to get the ball rolling. I realize that Fumino’s tsundere self isn’t as easy to grow fond of as Misaki’s, but I partly see that as Okamoto Nobuhiko‘s inability to work the Takumi here like he does over there. (Usui Takumi > Tsuzuki Takumi) To compound the problem, Fumino doesn’t exactly leave many openings in her tough exterior to begin with, making it a pretty terrible combination when this Takumi isn’t nearly as forthgoing. In short, it’s a different game that requires some help on Fumino’s part, which is why this situation was ideal for that.
Watching her make Takumi swear not to do anything to her in her sleep and then get upset to the point where she slapped him when he did so emphatically was a good wake up call for both of them. Takumi’s still too dense to picture the possibility that his childhood friend is in love with him, but at least that gave him clear indication that something’s bothering her. Granted, she still didn’t help when they were stargazing and indirectly reminiscing about how they once watched the Leonids meteor shower together, but I really felt sorry for Fumino when Takumi asked her if the wish she made then has come true and she tearfully replied that it hadn’t at all. I was hoping he’d reach out to her and comfort him in some way while she was crying to herself, but I can’t really blame him for being hesitant to do so when he just got slapped and had no idea why.
Admittedly, I was at a loss on how these two would ever work things out since it felt like both sides had come to a complete standstill, which is why I praise the magic of having a girl stumble and fall over on top of guy. It’s pretty cheesy, but if that closeness was all they needed to start seeing each other as something more than childhood friends then I’m all on board. Given how the two of them feel awkward around one another now and how Fumino in particular is finally showing signs of her softer girlish side, I’m really looking forward to seeing where their relationship goes from here. It should be interesting too since Ieyasu and Chise have taken notice as well, even though the latter won’t acknowledge it (and her loss). It’s really late in the series’ short twelve episode run, but it looks like romance is in the air. Hurray!