「この青い夏空の下で男は汗を流す」 (Kono Aoi Natsu Sora no Shita de Otoko wa Ase o Nagasu)
“The man sweats under the blue summer sky”
First off, let me apologize for false advertising in last week’s post – Yoshino and Mako-chan look a lot alike in a nun’s habit. In principle I’d say that one episode in 4 is not nearly enough for Makoto/-chan (though in point of fact, he’s actually not in the manga all that much either) but I’m enjoying the rest of the series so much that it’s impossible to get too upset over it. And the long-awaited return of Hosaka (Ono Daisuke – so help me, I hear Llama-san every time Hosaka speaks now) does a lot to soften the blow.
Minami-ke’s two most memorable side characters form a sort of polar opposites chart of the male masculinity scale (with Fujioka more or less right in the middle). Hosaka, like Makoto, doesn’t actually show up all that often but again, like Makoto, those appearances tend to be memorable. It’s safe to say there’s no other character quite like Hosaka – he’s both extremely cool and a complete loser, a genius at many things but an utter baka at common sense, the guy the girls can’t deny is easy on the eyes who usually manages to freak them out completely with his random, usually harmless but often hilariously disturbing antics. Ironically the one girl most unaffected by his theatrics is the one he generally engages in them to try and woo, Haruka – though that’s largely due to Hayami (Saeko Chiba) distracting him with her trolling at every turn.
For starters this week, we have a main course – the bento Hosoka has prepared for Haruka in his latest attempt to win her heart. Thanks to Hayami those bentos never find their intended target, and Hosoka usually ends up spending the most time interacting with the two girls most freaked out by him, Maki (Takagi Reiko) and Atsuko (Ono Ryouko). The funniest part of this chapter for me, though, is Hosaka’s interaction with Natsuki (his rival in unrequited love for Haruka-sama), who’s continually skeeving off volleyball practice to cook for the family. Hosaka prepares the entire family a meal the day after Natsuki’s latest absence, delivered with the memorable (“It’s nothing any volleyball coach wouldn’t do”). Natsuki’s reactions make the scene, especially his non-explanation to the ever-clueless Hosaka about why people might misinterpret his acceptance of a giant bento from his sempai.
The focus stays with the high-schoolers as Hitomi visits the Minami estate for advice on how she might win the heart of Natsuki by cooking for him and becoming “more like an adult”. Kana’s suggestion for “adult cooking” – wearing nothing but an apron – is on-point but a little bold for Hitomi’s tastes. A full on blast of Hosaka weirdness surrounding “browning” ensues. After this we have the return of yet another of the first season’s gems, “Teruterubozu Chiaki”. There’s an overabundance of loli cuteness here, but not in the somewhat unsettling way of shows like Haganai – watching Chiaki, Touma, Yoshino and Uchida frolic in the rain and then hop into the bath is adorable without being exploitive. I don’t deny it’s fanservice, but it’s just damn cute (not least Chiaki with a towel on her head). The dilemma of the moment is the relentless rain (thus the Teruterubozu) that’s kept the Minami Sisters’ clothes and towels from drying, creating quite a dilemma with four grade-schoolers in the bath whose cloths are soaked. It’s Touma to the rescue – in addition to the emergency maid uniform she’s crafted the Minamis, she’s also made them emergency nun’s habits. Why? This is the wrong series for that question.
My favorite chapter of the episode, though is definitely the next – which leads us back to the ever-fascinating Hosaka. Between his Michelin 3-star cooking, inappropriate disrobing and fantasizing about Haruka to a rock-guitar soundtrack (remixed) he’s found time to make a plate – literally, as in forming it from clay and baking it in a kiln. Why? Again, see above – but apparently no other vessel was glorious enough to hold the delicacies which never reach her lips anyway. The payoff here is when Maki accidentally breaks the plate (just by holding it, seemingly) and she and Atsuko perform an increasingly desperate pantomime in the background as Hosaka waxes eloquent about his dish, finally turning up with a tea kettle and distracting poor Hosaka into forgetting that it wasn’t the plate he slaved over. It’s a classic Minami-ke moment, worthy of any in the series 4 seasons. We wrap with a very short and silly chapter about cup noodles, lacking any big punchlines but a nice send-off featuring the Minami Sisters in their natural habitat.