「五羽鶴の恩返し」 (Gowazuru no Ongaeshi)
“Five Cranes in Return”
Go-Toubun no Hanayome leans into the messiness with Episode 10 as three of the five sisters are getting ready to burn some bridges and square up. But the gambit that the trio takes to get close to Fuutarou is more likely to push him away based on his reaction towards Yotsuba’s unconditional kindness.
If there’s one hidden blessing about Ichika’s self-immolation, it’s that it sparks a fun rivalry between her and Nino that ends up being pretty cool. You have Nino, who goes out of her way to cuckold her sisters by regularly staking her claim to Fuutarou in front of all of them. And then, there’s Ichika, who is launching tactical airstrikes from afar to screw over her sisters’ attempts to get with him by substituting their victory with her own.
Only Nino has the resilience and/or scorn to push back at Ichika’s attempts to sabotage the sisters, but that only makes Ichika want to work even harder on her next scheme. Ichika might be shaky in face-to-face confrontations, but that makes it all the more interesting when she sets herself aside to coax herself into going all-in on being the saboteur while Nino goes all-in on the runaway train route. Similarly, Nino has to think 10 steps ahead if she has a chance at not having any wrenches thrown her way by Ichika’s quick thinking.
If there was a story about two girls like these two trying their damndest to win over a guy like Fuutarou, it’d be a fun game of Spy vs. Spy. The later chapters work best when it becomes a mean-spirited manga where we watch these sisters destroy each other, but only Nino and Ichika seem to have picked up the right script while the other girls are still trying to salvage what the story used to be like.
This is mostly indicative of Miku’s approach to winning over Fuutarou by playing her greatest hits of doing small gestures to win his respect. She’s overly possessive of Fuutarou as the first girl who expressed extreme thirst for him, but she lacks the backbone to assert herself. This makes her an easy mark when Nino humiliates her for not coughing up her intent to get with Fuutarou. You can argue that Nino is pushing Miku to express herself before it’s too late, but because she lacks the confidence to assert herself, she ends up looking even more impotent in the wake of Ichika’s disguise trick. Whereas she’s doing great for herself in improving as a baker and bettering her own abilities, at this point, her clinging onto Fuutarou is a performative way to make the other sisters feel guilty for dunking on her.
That’s not to say Nino is looking any better though, with her odious decision to knee-cap Miku in front of her sisters and claim that Fuutarou has no choice but to pair up with her alone for the Kyoto trip against his will. If Miku staying mum when Nino challenges her to express herself was embarrassing to watch, Fuutarou’s reaction to Nino once again trying to confess to her was even more demoralizing from the girl who misguidedly thinks he’ll just fall in love with her if she throws herself at him. The good news is that Fuutarou saved himself by going the sausage fest route with best boy Takeda.
One of the more successful attempts to reign the show back to where it used to be was Yotsuba’s date with Fuutarou. She’s a cinnamon roll, a sweetie pie, and the only sister who actually deserves to win because she cares about Fuutarou for more than what his johnson can provide them like the other Nakano’s.
Likewise, Fuutarou is actively engaged with Yotsuba and really wants to get to know her. They have a bonding moment with a beautiful scene where they’re both able to finally let loose and talk as they play on a swing set together. It was sweet to see that he wants Yotsuba to explain to him what she wants instead of what her sisters want.
She shares Fuutarou’s selflessness, but she also hides so much of who she is that it’s hard for Fuutarou not to want to see the real side of her. In contrast to the other sisters being overbearing enough for Fuutarou to want to avoid their personal lives, it’s adorable to see how he hits it off so soon with her to the point that they can both be on the same playing field, but in a way that makes Fuutarou more inquisitive on trying to bring out the best in Yotsuba. It makes it all the more satisfying to see the both of them hitting it off and Yotsuba gaining some kind of clarity after spending so much time worrying about if she’ll be a hindrance or a bother to those around her.