「謎の「ぎゅっ」)」 (Nazo no “Gyu”)
It’s touching to see how far Urabe and Tsubaki have come as characters. We’ve gone from no hugs, no holding hands, and even no dates for the longest time…to where we are now. From the surface, it doesn’t look like they’ve made much progress in terms of a typical relationship. The progress of events has jumped around the natural order, from hand holding to groping to hugging, but considering the amount of time that has elapsed (at least approaching a year), it’s sparsely spread. Go beyond that though, you’ll see spit pervading every single day of their relationship. Go beyond THAT, and it’s clear to see that they are growing closer together at a slow and stable pace, which is absolutely fine.
Going back to the author’s thesis of this work–that kids are too excited and impatient to rush through the buildup of a relationship–shows this series’ unique charm. The development between Tsubaki and Urabe didn’t occur over the course of 2 episodes with 10 episodes of comedic shenanigans, it occurred evenly throughout the series. However, the development between the characters is definitely uneven–Urabe has changed significantly whilst Tsubaki…not at all.
Tsubaki has always been a good guy at heart. He’s plagued with the terrible hormones of a teenager, but considering how he controlled himself this episode with that epic sacrificial dodge, he’s got the makings of a respectable man in him. Ever since episode one he’s always been the zookeeper trying to keep the impulsive lion in check and that hasn’t changed a bit. He may keep learning more about his mysterious girlfriend, but his own actions go unchanged for the most part, making revelations that only serve to enhance his current behavior. He may learn that Urabe gets sad when he’s with other girls, but even without that information he’d still try his best to keep from giving too much attention to other potential competitors.
Urabe on the other hand hasn’t always been the most accepting of Tsubaki’s advances, nor the most emotional. Little by little has Urabe been opening up herself to Tsubaki (and a significant amount to Oka). Back during episode 2, it wouldn’t have been possible for Tsubaki to even lay a hand on Urabe for too long: she’d have dodged, cut, and lectured. However, ever so slowly, Urabe has allowed Tsubaki more room into her personal space–though that space has yet to reveal anything about her history. It took a significant amount of time to reach this milestone, but seeing the journey towards it was definitely worth the watch. It’s a pleasure to see Urabe reconsider her ideas and ultimately discover more about herself than about Tsubaki, all while growing her relationship.
Combined together, the progression these two have had over the past year makes for a great foundation for whatever they decide to do next. The conscious decision to go “Yukkuri shiteitte ne!” perfectly goes in-line with the thesis. The two are simply enjoying their time together, taking each problem one at a time as they come, without a clear goal in sight. As a result, the two enjoy and savor each momentous milestone, no matter how small or big, leaving no event unappreciated.
And that my friends, is why I think that first hug means…and feels so much.