「初デートに波乱は付き物」 (Hatsu Date ni Haran wa Tsukimono)
“On First Dates, Trouble Is Essential”
The second episode of Seishun Buta Yarou continues to establish the tone of the series as Sakuta becomes further invested in Mai’s personal life, trying to crack the code behind how the Puberty Syndrome is affecting her life. In the process of trying to find anyone in the world that can remember who Mai is as her syndrome-based disappearance intensifies, Sakuta and Mai find themselves gravitated towards each other.
With the chemistry that is brought out through their dialogue and behavior with one another, they find more common ground than they would have thought thanks to their connection through their interactions with the syndrome. It’s at this point where the story embraces some of the strongest points of Bakemonogatari‘s first arc, Hitagi Crab with how Sakuta and Mai are able to reach a level of understanding about what they see in each other, how they feel about each other, and how they want to help each other. Where Sakuta and Mai can have ping pong-esque dialogue where they lobby jokes back and forth at each other and have a fun time getting snarky while they learn about themselves. Some of the best moments were with how their dynamic played off in funniest scenarios like Sakuta trying to test if Mai can make him disappear by holding hands or the push Mai does to try to get Sakuta out of the room before a shower.
And yet, there is enough respect in their relationship to get to the core of knowing how one another feels about a helpless circumstance like Mai’s non-existence to most of the population. Her dilemma would be hard for anyone to digest, but the series takes on the real fears that Mai has with regards to who is forgetting her and if she would eventually be forgotten by Sakuta. The Puberty Syndrome took its most severe turn with her when her initiative to tell her mom to her face that she is going to act under a different agency backfires as her memory of her daughter vanishes and she assumes she was called out by Sakuta as a prank. Even after agreeing to go back into showbiz, despite being angry at Sakuta for unearthing her resentment over her mom making her do a bikini photo op, Mai still finds herself in the middle of her Puberty Syndrome issues. Regardless of the lighter-hearted moments, the tension of Mai’s situation is encompassed throughout the episode and is punctuated by the time they sleep in bed together. She mentions what her reaction to the possibility of Sakuta forgetting her would be like, but he is dedicated to trying to help her any way he can. Although he missed his window for a kiss, it was his feeling of loneliness that he received from the syndrome and his estranged mother that drove him to want to be a part of Mai’s journey to figure out what is going on with her.
The side characters are also pivotal to the second episode as well with the role they play in the narrative. Kunimi being the one to bring it all into perspective as the one person who remembers who Mai was is an interesting development and can lead into giving a more concrete answer as to how the Puberty Syndrome functions. Likewise, Futaba’s input has enough basis going off of it to give Sakuta a general direction of what he should be looking into with the context of similar phenomena such as Schrodinger’s cat. Shouko being introduced early on is also a nice treat as it gives us further context of who she is, why students in the first episode only vaguely knew of her, and the significance she had on Sakuta. As for our newest character, Koga Tomoe, her scene provided some laughs with how she wanted to get kicked in retaliation right when a police officer passed by, but it does have me thinking about if they would eventually incorporate her into the Puberty Syndrome findings. If Sakuta happens to keep attracting people in his life who happen to be enveloped by the syndrome, it’ll be neat to see if she gets enveloped in all of this.
It’s great that Seishun Buta Yarou has been keeping up the pace in living up to the promise of a supernatural mystery that is down-to-earth, clever, and even a little romantic. Although the material is racing through so many days that the status of their relationship feels deeper than it seems at first, it makes sense given how much they want to cover of the arc before Mai returns to acting. While I’m hoping that they don’t try to phase out Mai from the story if she does end up too busy acting to keep up with Sakuta, I’m curious about how the third episode will unfold now that he has a good lead on where to start with what circumstances have to take place in order for Mai to be seen again.
ED: 「不可思議のカルテ」 (Fukashigi no Karte ) by Kubo Yurika, Minase Inori, Seto Asami, Tanezaki Atsumi, Touyama Nao, and Uchida Maaya