「ペア組み直しでフットマン」 (Pea Kuminaoshi de Futtoman)
“A Footman In A Reorganized Pair”
It’s the ultimate couple combination of Misaki and Usui, but it doesn’t look so hot when the former is looking rather dorky and accusing the latter of being a mysterious perverted alien from the planet Pheromone. That theme carried on throughout the footman audition, so it was a bit hard to get caught in the romantic flow when there really wasn’t much of one. Usui bragging about his limitless expertise in just about everything didn’t help either, though it did allow them breeze through the table setting round. Considering her panic, Misaki probably would’ve failed that round without a proper understanding of all the little nuances to upscale English tea drinking. I can’t say that Usui’s help justified the sexual harassment about touching her breast last time however, as he threw out ideas about how he should’ve complimented her on her rock-hard pecs rather than saying she’s as flat as a board. It was an insult either way regardless of whether her breasts were tied down or not, and something Misaki really didn’t want to hear after she was forced to use the men’s washroom when Tora happened to stroll by. The remark about “punishing her” if she pushes herself too hard was a bit too suggestive as well, especially considering how Usui said it in front of everyone. Both were entertaining from a Misaki-teasing standpoint, but neither was doing anything for them in the romance department.
For the romance, Usui sacrificing his body to save Misaki yet again was what actually did get the ball rolling. One stumble and broken ring ropes paved way for the heroics this time around, which seems to be the proven way to win Misaki over. It’s probably safe to say any other girl would’ve fallen head over heels for Usui to stalker-like obsession levels if he rescued them once, which makes Misaki one pretty damn hard girl to get in comparison. I’m usually accustomed to the whole challenge part of the chase going the other way around — where some girls like to make a project of a good-looking yet disinterested guy — but the roles are reversed here, with Mr. Popular going for the one girl in the entire world who doesn’t want anything to do with him. When I stop and look at it that way, Usui really does come off as a sexual predator of sorts, whose interest in Misaki stemmed from the thrill of the hunt. He clearly sees her as much more than that, though all the teasing at times makes me wonder if he’s enjoying the process of winning over Misaki a bit too much. There’s like no end to him acting cool either, with him smoothly hiding the fact that Misaki was covering for him in their the final customer service round by captivating everyone with his violin despite his injury.
If there’s one thing this episode reminded me of, it’s that Misaki is a definitely a girl worth going after. Not only does she have a tsundere personality and looks great in a maid outfit, but she also has a soft spot for people pushing themselves for her sake. Feeling appreciated is probably the ultimate reward to a guy who goes out on a limb for a girl, which even Usui couldn’t help but get caught up in when Misaki came by his place later on to check up on him. Following her surprise over the apartment he lives alone in and his lack of furniture, the entire scene at Usui’s place had the makings of what should have been a sure-fire deal to get these two lovebirds together. They even slipped in Misaki’s bad home cooking and Usui eating all of her congee simply because it was made by her — a tried and true way of winning a girl over in the anime world. Coincidentally, I loved Misaki’s reaction to Usui getting her to spoon feed him, whereas the finish with Usui giving Misaki a hug after she apologized for not being able to do anything for him after everything he’s done for her was really really sweet. While the moment didn’t last very long, it made it more apparent that Misaki’s winning over Usui just as much as he is her. Feeling appreciated! Guys love it.
As for the result of the footman audition, Misaki pulling out of the competition for Usui’s sake led to a surprise turnaround in Kanade’s character. Granted, he never seemed like that bad of a guy aside from doing Tora’s selfish bidding, but his change of heart about buying out Maid Latte prompted one in Tora as well. Now that I really wasn’t expecting, especially after all the crap Tora pulled before. In light of him not actively sabotaging Misaki’s efforts in this game of his and offering some of the Igarashi’s land instead of taking over Maid Latte, my opinion of his character has improved a fair bit. I wouldn’t say it’s enough to make everything water under the bridge, but it’s a step in the right direction at least. Next time it looks like he won’t be involved either, as we have a split episode shared between Yukimura’s 7-year-old sister Ruri and Aoi the Internet idol.