「謎の感覚」 (Nazo no Kankaku)
Today’s episode revolves around the key aspect of change: the ability of both parties to influence each other permanently. Although we have seen expositions of Urabe’s and Tsubaki’s characters plenty of times, up until this episode, there have been few, if any, significantly permanent personality changes. It’s true that Oka may have gained Urabe’s bond unlike anyone else, but that in itself didn’t create an actual shift in personality, but rather the uncovering of undiscovered ones. Urabe isn’t antisocial…she’s just highly unorthodox.
However, here we can see a significant shift, not just physically but also in attitude, with Urabe. Yes her ear might now be conditioned to induce tears, but what’s more important is that she allowed herself to be subject to that conditioning. She did put up a fight, but eventually subtle cues indicated to us that she partially surrendered herself to Tsubaki, or at the very least had doubts. Perhaps it was her emotions overflowing combined with her growing trust of Tsubaki, but whatever the reason, the weakness patched itself up by the end.
While this obviously marks a step forward in the relationship (with some steps back before that), the important part is their recognition of the influence they have on each other. Although hinted at slightly in previous episodes, Urabe continues to become more and more honest about Tsubaki’s role in shaping her emotions. Like many kuuderes before her, it is during a time of stress and instability that causes her to acknowledge the influence of others. Tsubaki, faced with the possibility that he wronged Urabe, acknowledges his mistake and attempts his very best to rectify the situation in his own way.
We see parallels from this part with that of real relationships. A significant part of many relationships is realizing that things…change when in a relationship. Nothing stays the same, and change must and will happen to make a relationship work. Urabe realizes at this point that she now has to open herself more now to Tsubaki, though it proves tough for her. Tsubaki on the other hand realizes that Urabe struggles with his demands for openness (whether they’re explicitly stated or not) and seeks to find a pace that works for both of them.
Such messages go ignored so much in the romantic comedy genre: it usually ends up being a self-centered attitude the characters adopt for the sake of comedy rather than story. When romantic comedies decide to take that dare and move forward with honesty…that’s great untreaded ground that makes a romantic comedy memorable. I can say now that of the many romantic comedies that I believe are memorable, they were the ones that didn’t excel in comedy but rather in the overcoming of complications honestly and realistically.
Yes, the animation and drawing quality was pretty iffy this episode, which is confusing, considering how this episode provided more exposition than any other episode yet. However, looking past that, here is a story that continues to break brave ground less treaded. Even the symbolism works well this episode (see the alt-text for the elevator cap) which adds to the mood of the episode. The tearful expression from Urabe’s face during that dramatic scene was both surprising and sad simultaneously, helping us as watchers continue to connect with her subtle emotions.
Hopefully we see happier emotions next episode, as we see a new hairstyle courtesy of Oka in the works!