「はじめての告白」 (Hajimete no Kokuhaku)
“My First Confession”
The only good things about this last arc were all within this episode. Even though his existence goes against the show’s “don’t judge a book by its cover” aesop, Dai served as a good figure to emphasize the growth Junichi has made since the beginning of the anime. Junichi had formerly ascribed to Dai’s same mindset that Yukana must be easy because she looks popular and flirty, but with all of the dates and hijinks they’ve been through, it’s become more apparent to him that she’s meant much more to him for a while. As he redoes his confession to her to make up for his breakdown last episode, it becomes more apparent as to why we’re supposed to see how Junichi’s behavior in the last episode was a mistake on his end. In his insecurity, he ended up placing zero faith in himself and Yukana by assuming she’ll just leave him because he’s uncool and she’d be easily impressed by pretty guys. In this context, I can see why viewers were dog-piling on him for lashing out at her instead of having more trust in her that she’s not trying to cheat. But the message was pulled off better in the manga when Junichi’s bout with insecurity was over a guy on Yukana’s phone that turned out to be her brother, especially since no one lashed out, and the couple wasn’t temporarily separated to build drama.
Junichi’s guilt and growth that ended up doing a disservice to Yukana as a character in this anime. Junichi learned a wealth of information about his feelings and emotions during this time, and grew enough to understand why he was out-of-line. Yukana didn’t do any such reflection for herself, and spent the first half of the episode only reflecting on whether Junichi actually loved her or not. That’s not what you should be asking yourself! Talk to him about his feelings! Understand why he’d be a jealous about you hanging out with another guy you used to know or why he was insecure that you seemed to have fun talking to him. Also, the silent game is how you end up in couples counseling, bickering to the poor therapist about how the magic used to be there until that bastard forgot to clean the kitchen table for the tenth week since he had the inlaws over!
On a high note, Ranko and Junichi’s friends easily stole this episode with how great they were at being wingmen for Junichi, saving him from getting jumped for too long by all of Dai’s friends. Ranko is as badass as always, taking names and kicking Dai square in the balls. His friends were also great bros for jumping in for the save, and Minoru had his only redeeming moment by Hulking out on Dai for trying to push a kid to escape getting further beaten up. Minoru’s wrath did not save him from his gruesome fate as he is presumably mauled to death and devoured by the pedo version of Gluttony.
The last episode ends on a jarring note by blending the misunderstanding BS with the date chapter from the manga. It’s odd to see how there is a difference between how this segment plays out as a subtle and relaxing amusement park date that would eventually segue into Yukana kissing Junichi for real. In the manga, it’s a really big deal for Junichi to get his first kiss, and he begs for it through numerous chapters before he can get one. With this chapter being adapted now instead of back when he was first starting out in the relationship, it cheapens the moment for me. It made the kiss feel less special knowing that his desire to kiss her wasn’t something fresh on his mind. Remember the outfit Junichi picked out for her? How many episodes ago was that? Episode 3, you say!? Because it wasn’t that huge of a gap in the manga. The anime became less about their relationship growing and more of the harem hijinks that didn’t need to be there, so it lost its way to the point where the date scene from the manga looks oddly out-of-place without Junichi’s friends or the girls interrupting.
They ended the show on a high note with Yukana and Junichi kissing, but I couldn’t help but think as that moment passed how great it would’ve been if they were more faithful in adapting the manga. There were shades of the manga’s spirit in the material with Junichi learning to see Yukana more for who she is as a person instead of what stereotypes she might fall under. It would’ve been easier to be more forgiving of the show if it’s original material retained the serious tone the manga had; that’s not to say the manga wasn’t goofy, but it took its characters much more seriously
The shift the anime did towards making it a goofy ecchi comedy was very hit-or-miss. It made Shinpei a more likable character since he’s funny as an eccentric goofball who continues to give Junichi terrible advice about how to get from first base to home, but also sticks his neck out for Junichi’s happiness on several occassions. On the flipside, it made Minoru possibly the worst character to have ever appeared in a comedy anime as a genuine pedophile who goes out of his way to track down children, pull them aside to flirt with them, and actively expresses his desire to have a child satisfy him. They go overboard with the dude’s character, and it completely sucks out any energy, momentum, or humor that was previously in the scene before he came in to wedge his lust for children somewhere in the conversation.
Similarly, the anime also lacked in going the lengths they could’ve gone with the fanservice. Other than the beach episode and Nene’s advances, which were explicit enough to be great to watch, the ecchi was heavily regulated to only happen during Junichi’s PG rated fantasies. It’s not supposed to be an erotic manga since I can only recall it getting overly fanservicey during Junichi’s earlier fantasies and Nene getting naked around him, but if you’re going to change the tone to incorporate enough fanservice to need bedazzled censors, go all the way! The bathhouse was nice, I’d assume people would want to get the Blurays to see more than what the “uncensored” stream offers. Geez!
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the anime adaptation though, since I really liked what they did with the other girls in the series. They gave a lot more attention to Ranko as she is shown as being much more complex about her feelings about Yukana’s relationship with Junichi. She still wants to be with Yukana, but won’t let her unrequited crush get in the way with her trying to keep her relationship steady since her ultimate wish is for Yukana to be happy with or without her. I’m biased towards liking Ranko, but she’s also been entertaining as Yukana’s protective guardian from Junichi getting a little too happy around her. Yui was also given more to work with as the level-headed president who ends up shaping Junichi up through her own breakdown and the motivation her Boa alter ego gives to him.
The show did a disservice to Nene’s character growth and backstory by reinventing her to get rid of the parts of her that are desperate to win Junichi’s heart over. The biggest insult was seeing her motivation change from wanting honor her childhood promise to be Junichi’s wife out of her own desire to wanting to be married to Junichi only if he’s uncool. Changing “If you still love me in the future” to “If you’re still uncool in the future” feels like a slap to the face, and a testament to the show’s lack of willingness to commit to the manga. The show also ignores Yukana for the most part, which is disappointing when the anime ideally should be about both Junichi learning not to judge Yukana based off of stereotypes and Yukana getting over her initial jitters about being in her very first relationship.
I will say though that the shades of the manga that did appear in the show made it worth the watch at the end of the day. They effectively showed that Junichi was reflecting on his behavior in the beginning, and as time passed, he was seeing Yukana more as a person. They also made some effort to give Ranko and the other girls some depth as they work together to try and keep Junichi & Yukana together, and see during the tail end of the beach episode that the couple is going to work out after all. I also thought Shinpei was a great character, and will miss a lot of his ramblings. I’m so used to hearing Toyonaga Toshiyuki with a delicate, timid voice, so it was a nice surprise to see he could pull off an eccentric deep-voiced otaku wonderfully. I did feel a little sadness from seeing all the characters joined together at the end of the anime, but I just wished that they did more to match the manga.
I want to thank Zaiden for letting me pick up the show to continue and for making the first couple episode posts great. Hopefully if they make another season with the characters they hinted at with the end card dialogue, it would be able to learn from what clicked and didn’t from this season.