「中多紗江編 第一章 コウハイ」 (Nakata Sae-hen Dai Isshou – Kouhai)
“Nakata Sae Chapter 1 – Junior”
Well this was unexpected. Our romantic drama suddenly became a romantic comedy with the introduction of our sarcastic narrator (Nakata Jouji). It’s verging on Hayate no Gotoku and Ookami-san levels too, with the way Junichi will break the fourth wall to save himself some face. I gather it doesn’t hurt to experiment when there’s a guaranteed reset every four episodes, so I’m all for the change of pace seen at the start of this arc. In fact, I’m intrigued at the prospect of seeing how different the same show and characters can come off due to it. It’s also kind of refreshing, since Nakata Sae is timid to the point that any developments relationship-wise are unlikely to come from her. She’s pretty much a token shy, reserved, and (apparently) rich girl, who contrasts heavily in light of the senior and middle school friend that came before her. It’s almost as if the writers wanted to remind us of that as well, with Junichi’s run-in with Haruka that didn’t result in her fawning all over him, and his decision to stop at the family restaurant that Kaoru works at. One thing that doesn’t get reset every arc is our understanding of the other girls’ personalities and their various nuances, so both of those scenes played out in my head as paths in the romantic simulation game that weren’t taken this time around in favor of the quiet girl who picked up Junichi’s tarako-shaped wallet.
Judging from this first chapter, I can’t say I’m too fond of the way that Junichi developing though. My initial impression is that he’s just as kinky and perverted as he was in Haruka’s arc, but now overconfident as well simply because he’s dealing with a younger girl. Examples of this are him acting all dependable in front of Sae when he helped her pass by a house with a puppy she’s scared of, and getting ahead of her about applying for a part-time job at Kaoru’s family restaurant just because she thought the uniforms were cute. In the latter case, things got even worse when he decided to take up the instructor role to help Sae overcome her soft-spoken voice and inability to interact with strangers. With the way he placed his hand on Sae’s stomach and convinced her that it’s all part of her “special training”, my hentai radar was going off the charts. The saving grace is that Miya’s around to keep her perverted brother in check this time around (and hopefully for the remainder of the arc), because Sae is pretty helpless in the face of him if she’s not accidentally spilling hot drinks on his crotch. Junichi needs a woman who can keep him in check like Haruka and Kaoru did, or at the very least a leash so he doesn’t get carried away with their piggyback rock-paper-scissors game.
Sae herself is still a bit of a marvel to me, so I’m going to remain fairly open-minded about her for now. I never know what to make of the quiet type, since a lot of their charm only becomes apparent after getting to know them. In Sae’s case, they gave her an amazing body to go with that somewhat submissive personality of hers, which undoubtedly helps her immediate appeal. On paper, I still don’t think that’s a combination that Junichi should be allowed to approach, as I can only foresee this relationship progressing due to impure thoughts. Here’s to hoping I’ll be terribly wrong though and Junichi winds up more like he did at the end of Kaoru’s arc. On a separate note, I’m still amazed at how soft-spoken Konno Hiromi plays Sae and sings her ending theme, “I Only See You”, because this is the exact same girl who voiced the wild and somewhat psychotic Kogami Akira of Lucky Channel fame. After seeing her in the live-action version at the end of the Lucky Star OVA, I must say I have a bit of difficulty picturing Sae’s voice coming out of her mouth. At least we know that Hiromi has this role covered with ease if Sae ever turns out to be a yandere.