Goshi goshi. Goshi goshi. That is the sound of wasted potential; poor Tsubaki falls into the sad, yet predictable situation of the ‘doomed childhood friend’. Although I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about Tsubaki and the main plot (until next episode), I do want to briefly touch upon the things that made the osananajimi story more engaging.
Although the message in the mud ball analogy was pretty clear–she’s poured a lot of work into their relationship and now she waits in eagerness for Kousei to see her efforts–seeing how happy little Tsubaki was, eagerly waiting to show off those mudballs to Kousei, was the hardest hitting scene of the episode. It sums up the initial hopes of every childhood friend who wants to break the status quo, where their patience becomes their greatest flaw instead of a strength. It’s a tired trope, but expressing the childhood friend conflict in subtle ways like this help keep it fresh. It was a subtler gesture concerning the osananajimi dilemma than most of this episode, which was mostly straightforward and at times too heavy too quickly. However, a very overused and unsubtle formula is enhanced by some softball curves, as seen through Kashiwagi and Tsubaki’s senpai.
Usually in situations like this, the childhood friend stays chaste and always available, readily hoping that the main character will stop fawning over the other girls and settle down with them. However, Tsubaki’s case is uncommon in that it represents a key notion of adolescent love and beyond–love is not singular nor static. Rarely in anime do we see conflict between a couple once established; when it does happen, it’s usually a very dramatic conflict that’s scandalous and full of emotions. Here, it’s much more subtle, but in practice much more believable and real. Falling in love at one point in time does not mean that it’ll still be there in the future; attraction and crushes are fickle like that, especially in the puberty years. To see that sort of message here, it’s a refreshing contrast to the ‘fall in love once, fall in love forever’ idea that is commonplace in romantic comedies. What’s icing on that cake though is Kashiwagi and her deliberate efforts to help Tsubaki out. Unlike a standard support that spouts a few lines and sets up one-time events, Kashiwagi’s role feels very much integrated with the narrative. We get to see her thought processes on what works and doesn’t work with Tsubaki. We see her deliberating with friends and trying out different tactics, acknowledging when certain tactics fail. I’m sad that Kashiwagi feels underutilized and and has a lack of screentime, mainly because the small characterization and plot advancement she accomplishes is great. She’s a wise character, as evidenced by her statement, “like and not disliking are very far apart.” Although Kashiwagi is trying her best, Tsubaki will probably face firsthand what the consequences are for not recognizing this distinction, which we’ll continue to discuss next week.
As I said before, I’ll save the main topic of Tsubaki’s relationship till later, but next episode looks like it’s going to end badly for Tsubaki’s relationship, so it seems a more natural place to discuss it then. Meanwhile, a smaller part of the episode dedicated itself to further cementing the details we expected from last episode concerning Kousei and Kaori. I’ve heard some complaints about how the comedy is ruining the moments and drama that should be happening, but I think the comedy is purposeful, or could be interpreted as such. At this point in time, both Kousei and Kaori are in denial, ignoring the huge elephant in the room. While those two have their energized banter concerning music and acting normally, the whole situation feels out of place, as evidenced by how quickly the drama escalates after these spurts of comedy. For Kousei and Kaori, this is their coping mechanism for dealing with their situations, even though both of them know very well the truth. For Kaori, her smiles and laughs are her way of coping with her bedridden condition and for being absent for Kousei. For Kousei, his willingness to play along stems from his denial that Kaori is truly sick, to the point that the resemblances between Kaori and Kousei’s mother flash through his head. Thus, the two of of them, in order to protect themselves, continue this lie. It is selfish, but for these two, accepting reality is a hard pill to swallow.
Overall, today’s episode was straightforward and a cooldown from last episode, but it does continue to setup key plot points in both stories. In particular, I enjoyed the transition of Claire de Lune from whistling to insert song to goshi goshi, but I did not enjoy the continued use of crying as something to be casually placed in a scene. The next episode, in addition to continuing the childhood friend and bedridden stories, introduces a new character into Kousei’s life. Who it could be, we don’t know yet, but she’s most likely the new character that appeared in the OP. Can the show really take on another plotline at this point? We’ll see next week–perhaps again, as one book closes, the next one will open up right after.