「七咲逢編 第三章 ヘンシン」 (Nanasaki Ai-hen Dai San-shou – Henshin)
“Nanasaki Ai Chapter 3 – Transformation”
I think I just watched some “ramen porn”, whatever the heck that means. Aside from some surreal vibes during Junichi and Ai’s date at the amusement park, this episode also showcased an emotional side to the story not yet seen in the three arcs prior. Out of all the girls seen thus far, Ai doesn’t seem like an obvious candidate for the first one to shed some tears, yet is also the most obvious one at the same time given her cool exterior. As such, when I saw her running from Hibiki to hide her disappointment over not earning a spot in the next swimming meet, I was a bit caught off guard by how things unfolded. For one, Ai’s the first character to get an insert song to add more emotion to one of her scenes (titled “minamo”), which is aptly performed by Yukana as well. Making good use of it, Junichi actually dove into the pool after her like I was hoping he would, which arguably made him the most respectable Junichi to date. This was after the kiss Ai gave him on a swing following their date as well, so he was likely all confused on what to make of her when she acted relatively indifferent about it. From the viewer’s perspective, the answer is pretty obvious. In Junichi’s shoes, not so much.
Admittedly, I’m still at a bit of a loss on what to make of all of the weird encounters Junichi experienced in the haunted house. This includes Kaoru dressed as a guy with Keiko, a childhood version of Tsukasa who turned out to be a ghost, and the aforementioned “ramen porn” with Ai getting buttered and eaten up by Junichi. (Mmm, a buttered up Ai.) In any case, I really like the unassuming progression that this episode took, as it allowed their first kiss to creep up on us. With the way Ai was rocking the swing back and forth on top of Junichi, her kiss wasn’t the only thing that crept up either. That red sweater dress she was wearing that showed just the right amount of “absolute territory” was almost criminal in my eyes, but my jaw dropped a bit when she figured that straddling his lap was better than potentially letting him see up her dress. Straddling his lap, facing him. If that wasn’t a tip-off that you should get the kids out of the room, then I don’t know what is. As my now infamous “diary” on Ai already mentioned, it’s that girlish side of her cool exterior that makes her something special. Comparing the way she acted around Junichi when they first met to the way she does now highlights the two ends of the spectrum and goes on to reiterate why I have a soft spot for her character stereotype.
With their first kiss already in the bag, it’ll be interesting to see where the eventual Christmas episode to wrap things up takes us. These two are already ahead of the curve if the other routes are any sort of a guideline, but I’d be lying if I said I was expecting a mixed onsen scene to take their relationship to the next level. Does everyone see why Ai is awesome now? She knows how to take the initiative!