「おおかみさん地蔵さんとダブルデートする」 (Ookami-san Jizou-san to Daburu Deeto Suru)
“The Wolf Goes on a Double Date with Jizou”
I guess it would be pretty wrong to say that Ryouko is much more attractive when she’s 13 years-old, but that’s the message I got when she came down with an acute case of amnesia. On the surface, it was a textbook trap to lure out pedophiles, whereas story-wise it was to showcase her true girlish self before Hitsujikai laid his filthy hands on her. To that end, the pretext was a double date with their senior Jizou Ami (Takahashi Mikako), whose earnest desire to repay the baseball team’s ace, Hanasaki Jin (Yamaguchi Tarou), for giving her his umbrella was homage to the Kasajizou Japanese folktale she’s modeled after.
Given Ami’s shyness and indirect way of thanking Jin by sneaking into his place to cook and clean, I kind of wish they gave her character more focus here before shifting to Ryouko and Ryoushi. She somehow mustered the courage to confess to him after Otogi Bank caught her in the act, and went along with a date even though Jin didn’t feel the same way, so the awkward silence when they were together was just begging for some screen time to break the ice. I was secretly rooting for Ami as well, since she reminded me of a lot of Nishizawa Ayumu and her sincere feelings, which could never be conveyed properly. She also happened be another character played by Takahashi Mikako who had her moment in the spotlight stolen by an Itou Shizuka-voiced tsundere acting all cute all of sudden. (Boo, spotlight hog!!!)
On the plus side, Ryouko did bring the cuteness in full force with the outfit Ringo got her to wear, while Ryoushi himself proved to be pretty reliable for diving into the pond after her and not taking advantage of her memory loss by lying about being her boyfriend. I just loved the drastic change in Ryoushi’s voice when he pulled her out of the water too, where he was pumped full of testosterone and didn’t end all his sentences with “-su”. He even manned up in the face of Hitsujikai later on after all the crap he spouted about how tasty Ryouko is and how she gave him signs to come onto her in the past. The one surprise is that Shirou isn’t all talk with the way he preyed on a very innocent Ryouko, seeing as sliced through Ryoushi’s slingshot in a blink of an eye. If nothing else, that made him seem worthy of being perceived as the ultimate antagonist in the series and the one Ryoushi has to beat the snot out of to win over Ryouko completely.
Leading up to that, the time they spent alone had the makings of a rather sweet date, where the Ryouko’s true self gave me every indication that she already likes Ryoushi a fair bit. From the sound of her disappointment upon learning that they aren’t dating to her frustration when Ryoushi unintentionally ignored her spoonful of ice cream (indirect kiss chance LOST!), it looked like another confession would’ve easily gotten the favorable reply he’s been after all this time. And to think, it wouldn’t have been part of Ringo’s doing either. The saving grace out of all this is that Ryouko still recalls everything that happened even though she claimed she didn’t, resulting in another step forward in Ryoushi’s relationship with her. This also marks the second time he’s protected her from Hitsujikai, so he must have scored some huge brownie points in Ryouko’s eyes for that. Ami somehow formed a relationship with Jin by just feeding him, so Ryoushi should be able to get away with one protecting Ryouko… sooner or later.