「梅雨いり けっこん 膝枕」 (Tsuyu Iri / Kekkon / Hizamakura)
“Rainy season / Marriage / Lap Pillow”
Raindrops keep falling in the fourth episode of Sunohara-sou as the season for downpour falls around the same time as the spike in weddings. With this in mind, this episode explores how the girls reflect on marriage and their ideas of what it means to be married. While Sumire is more focused on her career, Ayaka is disinterested in marriage at the moment, and Yuri loves marriage for the idea of having a subservient husband, the topic brings out Yuzu’s romantic side. She’s passionate about the old fashioned fantasies of surprising her potential husband when he comes home or sweeping him off his feet with her charm. In the process, however, she learns that she might have more on her plate to be able to live out this fantasy.
Yuzu struggles with her body image as her lacking height and bust size make her feel like she isn’t wife-material compared to other girls her age like her friends. Because of this, Aki’s main mission in the episode is to help her feel better or try to find a way to reverse the negative feelings she has about her body lacking the curves that she assumes would grab a guy’s attention. This section draws parallels between her and Aki significantly as they find themselves in the conundrum of being seen as someone far from their ideal selves. Yuzu is upset about not being seen as a woman because of her lack of curves, and Aki is sensitive about not being seen as a man for not having the stature or build of your average guy. Due to these parallels, the teasing that the series does to gauge whether these two would be a good fit together is almost to the same degree as the relationship between Aki and Ayaka. Along with all of the times they have hung out together, Yuzu is usually the one to catch Aki and Ayaka together, fueling a slight jealously that shows up on occasion. With Yuzu wanting to be quick to break up bonding moments Aki has with Ayaka, it’s easy to see the possibility that the only other person to provide some competition to Ayaka for Aki’s attention would be Yuzu for the time being.
It would be easy to see Ayaka as only the ideal image of motherly wife material, but this episode does a better job at having her build a substantial bond with Aki as his mentor beyond teasing or flirting. To get him to feel positive about learning how to cook, she teaches him the ins and outs of prepping up dinner, giving him pointers on evenly coating chicken for Karaage, chopping vegetables by putting his arm muscles to use, and coaxing the last bit of Kewpie out of the bottle for potato salad. He wasn’t quite able to beat the stereotype that wives tend to be better cooks, but it is part of Ayaka being happy to oblige Aki any time he wants to assist her in a bid to work on a masculine image. Similarly, his attempt to help her plug up holes on the roof fall under the same scope with how Ayaka lets Aki give her a hand with the fix despite the hard time he has keeping his balance on the roof.
There are also hints at what’s to come with Aki’s roommates heading out for a school trip. After the bath scene initially aimed to express Yuzu’s body image as she compares her bust with her friends‘, they discuss Aki’s presence in the house now that they’ll be going on a trip without him. Yuzu’s concern for leaving him in Ayaka’s care leans towards her wanting to sway her away from him, but the other girls find a sense of comfort with him being at the house as he brings some liveliness into the dorms even though they find that he is too caught up in how he interprets what they say regarding his image. It’ll be interesting to see where Sunohara-sou goes with its casts’ relationships as they become familiar with each other with time, and whether their familiarity will breed rivalry, but for now, it continues to be engaging and alluring with every new episode.