「恋と友情さえあればいい.」 (Koi to Yuujou sae Areba Ii.)
“All You Need Is Love and Friendship.”
Being Haruto is already suffering enough as is; your anime adaptation is crap, no one respects you as a writer, and you are friends with authors who are significantly more talented than you are. But adding unrequited love to the table is outright cruelty. Instead of having the trip to Joypolis be the springboard to sail the Haruto/Miyako ship, it is what appears to be the ship’s final resting place as Haruto is able to read the disappointment on Miyako’s face when she sees Itsuki hitting it off with Nayu. The last five minutes hit like a truck as Haruto realizes that he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance when it’s clear that Miyako has been emotionally invested in Itsuki this whole time. While Itsuki is oblivious to any of the hints Miyako drops, Haruto is unfortunately quick to the punch in seeing that trying to pursue a relationship with her any further will only be painful for both his heart and her emotional state.
And just so that there’s equal opportunity suffering, to be Miyako is also to suffer. The tug-of-war her heart has over Itsuki is made even more complicated after her birthday as she comes face-to-face with both her lack of experience in the world for her age and her unrequited feelings for Itsuki. Nayu’s appreciation for Miyako as a sister figure is a double-edged sword as she helps Miyako feel appreciated regardless of her inexperience, yet also continues to pull at her heartstrings about the slightest inkling of her getting with Itsuki. The birthday novel Nayu wrote for Miyako captivates her as she sees the full extent of Nayu’s talent while painting an erotic story between her and her unrequited.
Something like this would be on the flipside of why Haruto didn’t want Itsuki to be involved anymore with his pursuits; any efforts they make to help or cheer them up are only going to continue to hurt them as Itsuki and Nayu start making progress on their relationship. Haruto had the sense to tell Itsuki that he shouldn’t try to help him out, but I can see Miyako continue to be reminded of her inadequacy if Nayu keeps prodding her about how she feels about Itsuki. As they say, “Each fiber of pleasure you experience causes equivalent pain somewhere else”. Nayu’s victory rides on Miyako’s defeat, so it won’t be pretty if Miyako’s determination and emotional state evaporates further and further due to the false hope Nayu is giving her about a game she knows she’s losing.
In a kinder, albeit tragic twist of fate, the ship between Nayu and Itsuki is beginning to look like a reality. The Joypolis day-trip was just what Itsuki needed to develop feelings for her as they bond over their mutual appreciation of thrill rides. It was cute to see Itsuki start to catch feelings when he saw Nayu getting pumped up about going on a ride together by the end of the trip. Similarly, they shared some quality time prepping up for Miyako’s birthday celebration at their place with some funny moments like Itsuki trying to explain that his “rom-coms” are barely the right qualification to give romantic advice or whether actual feces is a proper gift for someone you love. Nonetheless, the episode’s biggest strength is how serious its tone is consistently throughout the 24 minutes of despair. Instead of feeling the need to pepper in something overly light-hearted, they keep a level-headed, mature approach to Haruto’s doomed effort to ask Miyako out, and Itsuki getting further away from Miyako’s reach.