「問題は山積み」 (Mondai wa Yamazumi)
“A Mountain of Problems”
Whereas the last episode made a convincing argument to join the church of Miku, this time around, it’s Nino’s time to shine. But unlike the effective strategy to make Miku as adorable and endearing as can be, Nino will need a little time before she reaches any level of bearable. As the tsundere sister with far less tolerance for Fuutarou than Itsuki, Episode 03 explores the utter contempt that she has for Fuutarou and the resentment she has for him invading her sisters’ private spheres as their tutor.
That isn’t to say that Nino shouldn’t be celebrated because of her abrasiveness, but her role this early on is definitely adversarial as she proactively works to try to get her sisters not to take part in Fuutarou’s tutoring. When he swooped in to protect her from the falling books, she was also completely on-board with Itsuki framing him so that he can be kicked out of the house once and for all. At this point in time, she seems static in her development as her growth by the end of the episode arrives in the form of being openly oppositional to Fuutarou no matter what her sisters say. As opposed to Miku’s sudden epiphany to allow Fuutarou to tutor her, the story is willing to pace it out when it comes to Nino trying to swallow down the bitter pill that is Fuutarou’s tutoring.
There are hints of conflict on the surface that Nino refuses to acknowledge such as being upset with her father for hiring Fuutarou in the first place, but a bulk of her troubles are with how she interacts with her sisters. She spends the majority of the episode digging into Miku as she sees her as the only obstacle in getting Fuutarou kicked out. She tries to embarrass and humiliate Miku for the possibility of crushing on someone as dull as him, resulting in Miku pushing back. Nino and Miku’s cook-off might seem like an incidental attempt to get Fuutarou out of their apartment, but it’s also asymptomatic of Nino’s insecurities about whether she is a proper sister. While she assumes that Fuutarou is Miku, she tries to make amends for getting rough enough with her to challenge her to a cook-off. As the trial came to a close, Ichika opened up a sore spot for Nino by asking everyone to relax since they used to all get along better as sisters. Nino had constantly pushed the idea that Fuutarou was coming in to cause a rift between the sisters, but that rift was already there. His presence only called to attention the need that Nino and the sisters have to be on better terms with one another. Again, this wasn’t the episode to finish such an arduous conflict, but because it will take investment and self-awareness to be able to resolve, it will be something interesting to keep tabs on as Nino is better adjusted to both Fuutarou’s presence and her sisters’ attitudes towards his tutoring. For the meantime, there is plenty more to learn about the girls such as what they’re all doing on their own. While Yotsuba was able to make the basketball team, Ichika was off doing some work that should come into the fold once Fuutarou draws attention to it. But for now, we can relax knowing that Nino can comfortably hate him to her heart’s desire.
As for Fuutarou, his on-going battle with Nino did put his ability to communicate with the girls to the test. The trial was his most damning moment yet as he was unable to let the girls know that he was just trying to find his flashcards and that he was trying to save Nino from falling books when he accidentally fell on her. He was also unable to put Miku’s advice to good use in letting his natural side help him win Nino over. It’s a relief that his inability to win over Nino just yet indicates that the objective of the anime won’t be for him to win everybody over on an episode-by-episode basis. At the same time, it’s good to see that, as perfect as Fuutarou is with his academic side, it’s his emotional grasp on convincing the girls to accept him that creates a tougher challenge for him to face. As for the next episode, it’s looking like we’ll be seeing more of his sister, so it’ll be neat if she ends up playing a role in getting the Nakano’s better acquainted with him.