「ほっとけばいいのに」 (Hottokeba Ii noni )
“You Could Just Ignore It”
The title for this week’s episode works well–it frames both Hayashi’s desire to apologize for ignoring Usa two episodes earlier as well as Ritsu’s insistence on ignoring the white elephant in the room. The combination of these two parts work well with each other, since Hayashi’s thankfulness towards Usa (he really is too nice) starts a chain of misunderstandings that eventually get the better of even super-focused Ritsu! Who knew that it would be the youngest member of the cast that would be the first to point out the obvious?
Aside from some good laughs and a return to better standards of animation, today’s episode marks the beginning of the end (of this season). Ritsu now inevitably is faced with the reality of Usa’s affections, whether she was aware of them in the first place or not. It’s an interesting question actually–just how much does Ritsu actually know about the current situation? The end of the second half at least shows that she can at least get jealous at a subconscious level, but is Ritsu fully aware of why those feelings exist within her or does she genuinely attribute it to the reasons she articulated in the second half of the episode? Although Ritsu puts up a formidable front in appearing focused, enough so to even fool Mayumi and Sayaka, could she actually have picked up on the hint ages ago and just refuses to face it head-on? Oh yes, we can make a really good guess on the answer based on the predictability of a rom-com (even Mayumi pointed it out this episode), but at the same time, rom coms are infamous for coming up with excuses to extend the plot further. Ritsu may either be as pure as perceived, but at the same time she just may be playing cold to avoid dealing with the drama that comes from intimacy. I’m sure an answer will pop up in some form by the end of this season.
Aside from that, I’m very pleased with this episode. If there had to be a dip in quality, the middle of the series was definitely the best place to put it. At this rate, the series will end on a pleasant note–it won’t perhaps be a closing note, but at least we’ll most likely see some progress between our main couple that’ll make us smile.