「コンプレックスこんぐらっちゅれーしょん」 (Complex Congratulation)
For the last episode of Nodoka’s arc, Seishun Buta Yarou digs into the personal relationship between Nodoka and Mai, and how their upbringings shaped how they perceived one another. It weaves a quick yet wondrous tapestry of their connection as the lingering desires they had to reach out were finally achieved with the conclusion of their body-swapping syndrome.
Sakuta spends the majority of his time with Nodoka not only since she’s taken on Mai’s form, but also because she has more to hash out with her older sister. She grew up admiring Mai and sending her fan letters regularly, but Nodoka’s mom is just as harsh on her about needing to live up to Mai’s level of fame. During this arc, she’s finding that she isn’t used to handling a stressful schedule and put her all into her performance at the same time. The expectations for her to be Mai 2.0 are extremely high, but with the body swap, it becomes all the more apparent that she can’t handle the same level of exposure and responsibilities that Mai has to juggle as an actress. Combine that with the radio silence she’s had with Mai’s interactions with her for all these years and the ease that Mai has had in performing all of Nodoka’s tasks in a way that made Nodoka’s mom proud of her, and it feeds into the resentment that Nodoka has about Mai’s success
Although Mai is acting mainly to help Sakuta find the answers he needs to help Nodoka realize that she needs to enjoy being herself, Mai is also in a tough position as she experiences the life Nodoka has to contend with. The responsibilities might not be as laborious or demanding, but that’s the part that Mai admires about Nodoka’s career path as a member of an idol group. With the demanding schedule that Mai has had to face since the very start, struggling to keep herself awake after brutal hours of work as a young girl, it was a far more pleasant experience for her to be able to pick up on what she has to do quickly with just some simple practice and her prior background in acting. It wasn’t as explicitly said in the episode, but Mai’s perspective on her sister is particularly interesting because the jealousy she felt was more in the benefits Nodoka has for being less famous, specifically having a stage mom that isn’t entirely poisonous and having a schedule that isn’t complete murder. Her admiration of Nodoka, however, is felt with the fact that she kept all of her fan letters and the desire she has to use Nodoka’s body to help her realize she can achieve the same level of glory if she rediscovers her passion. Where it might seem to be Mai’s efforts that helped Nodoka get her own single and have her mother’s approval, but it was Nodoka’s voice, body, and spirit that could easily match what Mai did if she was focused less on being Mai 2.0 and more on being herself.
While Mai leads the way towards Nodoka finding herself, Sakuta played a significant role in trying to understand the family dynamics that the two would have to work out. Along with his conversation with Kunimi’s girlfriend in the last episode, he was able to have a talk with his dad, who had left Sakuta along with his ill wife to help Kaede without interfering with her recovery. Their conversation was light-hearted, but it helped Sakuta understand Nodoka’s mom and why she’s so concerned with Nodoka being a successful idol. He also took a lot of bullets for Nodoka and Mai with having to convince Nodoka to not drag herself out in the middle of the ocean and taking a slap from Mai so that she can show Nodoka how frustrated she is with being accused of trying to bury her. His help along the way didn’t just help Mai and Nodoka make amends but also motivated Kaede to want to venture out to school once again. But with the paparazzi catching onto Mai’s relationship with Sakuta, the next arc will be sure to provide some drama for our main couple.