「謎の「なんだかちょっと」」 (Nazo no “Nandaka Chotto”)
“Mysterious ‘Somewhat, A Little'”
Let’s face it. When a romantic challenger appears in an anime, they pose a ‘threat’ for one episode and then subside into becoming the protagonist’s friend and also make amends with the main romantic interest later on. Nothing is developed, nothing is gained except for a new good-looking member of the cast.
However, in shows that actually take the dynamics of relationships in a realistic manner, that’s rarely ever the case. Challengers may come in many forms such as childhood friend, class representative, idol, next-door neighbor, and mysterious stranger, but in a realistic setting, rarely do their challenging actions leave the primary couple unscathed. Commitments will be doubted, tensions rise, and the two end up learning more about each other…often revealing negative traits rather than positive one.
This episode takes on the staple “I’m prettier than you” challenger to bring out the sometimes nastier trait of ownership out into the open. Back during episode six we encountered the first signs of ownership from challenger #1, “high achiever”. However, tensions were more sympathetic and sad as Tsubaki still did the right thing in an uncontrollable scenario. Here however, an obvious infraction of the unspoken code is broken, with Urabe quick to lash out her jealousy. Of course Tsubaki probably wasn’t aware that buying materials that look like your girlfriend, openly no less, is a slap to the face. In my opinion, though he deserved to be scolded for carelessly buying up such an expensive photo book, ripping it up on the spot…a little rash, don’t you think? Tsubaki would’ve been better off buying his materials from his fellow classmates; at least those photos would’ve been truer to the relationship rather than for a pretty face.
However, it seems that this isn’t the end of this idol’s influence on Urabe. For the episode to spend so much time developing her character and mentioning the fact that she was the same age as our main cast AND that she has smaller, well… foreshadows that we may see her pretty face again. If she was able to get this much of a reaction from Urabe without actually being present in person, who knows what kind of wrench in the gear she could throw if she were to appear again?
Setting aside story though, the hairstyles this episode: absolute joy. If Oka were to lose her glasses, ruffle her hair, and put on that look on her face more often…she could become an idol herself! Urabe’s own stages of hair were also a sight to see, whether tied up, half-tied, or just naturally messy and parted. If this was more of a fanservice type of show, I would be demanding more of these hairstyles appearing more often! However, her hair is symbolic and critical to her character: any permanent changes would have to be reflected in her own growth.
Another interesting note would have to be the extreme color tones portrayed throughout this episode. At least four tones were expressed for long periods of time. White dominated the hair changes, red indicated a reversal, yellow accompanied a spreading trend, and dark green for jealousy. I find it nice to see these subtle details added in this episode, and I wish that the show had added this style earlier; it makes for a nice visual cue as to the current tone of the show.
Next week our first challenger appears to have cut her hair and…have shared her drool with Tsubaki! It’s looking to be a high-tension episode that perhaps lays off on the comedy to focus on this…unresolved past.