「襲来 べた甘 おもてなし」 (Shuurai / Betaamai / Omotenashi)
“Invasion, Sickly-Sweet, Hospitality”
In this episode, we finally get to meet Matsuri, Aki’s sister who has tormented him to the point of feeding into his insecurity of not being seen as manly. Aki’s fear is entirely justified as Matsuri sees Aki as nothing more than a little sister and a prop to use against his wishes, is sociopathic towards anyone that doesn’t fit the mold of her world view like Yuzu, and sees Aki gaining agency as a thorn in her side. She spends most of the episode thinking she can convince Aki to head back to home through sheer intimidation despite his parents approving of his move into the Sunohara estate. While they try to redeem her by having her slowly get fonder of Ayaka and the new Aki, it’s hard to see her as sympathetic when she’s tormented Aki for most of his life and gave him a complex about not being acknowledged as a boy.
To make her likeable, however, it comes less from her actions towards Aki and more from her interactions with Ayaka. The more that Ayaka starts to win her over, the more tsundere she gets about the possibility of her being nurturing enough to trust her with Aki. Ayaka is by far the MVP of this episode as she does the most to give her everything she’s given to Aki, including a tooth-brushing straight from Nisemonogatari. In the process, she takes glee in digging into Matsuri, from joyfully replicating all of Aki’s most intimate scenes with her to having a full grin when she notices Matsuri spying on them together from afar.
In her redemption, it comes out when they shine a light on her past as she remembers when Aki helped to take care of her. The growth that Aki makes as a person by calling her out gets on her nerves, but he is able to reach more amicable ground when she has her recall when she helped him as a toddler and how he always aims to return the favor for those around him. All he expects is to be treated as a boy, and while he still has a long road to go as far as this goal goes, it does give him a means of having his sister understand him a lot more, and give her some insight on why she should let Aki be his own person without her. While Ayaka was the best as the force to bring Matsuri to the light side, it was a solid episode for Aki to be taken more seriously, and it did give him much more to work with during his season-long goal to be seen as a boy. Where his concern was to be manly to everyone, but his primary concern was proving to Matsuri that he’s a man and won’t stand to be looked at as the younger sister wrapped around her finger anymore. It’ll be sad for the series to go soon, but it looks like we’ll be getting a nice send-off with a Christmas episode.