Episode 6: Mysterious Step Up
Ink: Once again Tsubaki’s relationship initiatives are inspired by a comparison; Oka reveals that she and Ueno sometimes call each other by their first names. Oka informs Urabe about the discussion over lunch and, to gauge Urabe’s reaction to said discussion with Tsubaki, shoves her carefully timed (post-soda sip) finger in Urabe’s mouth and blushes. I really cannot see this as anything less than an analogy for a stolen kiss or at least a very unwelcome physical intrusion. Indeed, after this happens, Urabe curtly tells Oka “It’s none of your business” and parts company without another word. This all sets up a wonderful smile, however, when Urabe awakens after Tsubaki softly speaks her first name while he thinks she’s asleep. This also leads to Tsubaki’s new quest (and second half of the episode): capturing Urabe’s true smile. This is further motivated by Tsubaki running into his ex-wallet filler girl from yesteryear, Hayakawa, and pining for a replacement. This proves a challenge, as Urabe is unwilling to have her photo taken with anything other than her natural expression. When Tsubaki finally gets the picture he never knew he wanted and shows his happiness at such a gift, Urabe erupts in a manner that is a much awaited throwback to the first episode, driving the point home that gestures speak louder than actions rather sweetly.
Phillip: Yeah, this is a silly episode on first glance, with Oka and her prying of Urabe as to whether or not she and Tsubaki are on a first name basis yet (in Japan, this would mean they were on really, REALLY intimate terms). But I see Oka sticking her finger in Urabe’s mouth as more of grabbing your friend’s phone to see the latest text from their main squeeze. And on the other hand, Tsubaki trying to take Urabe’s picture boils down into “Why does Tsubaki want a picture of Urabe smiling?” She doesn’t do smiling, at least not right now. If Tsubaki wanted a girlfriend who smiled all the time, he should be dating someone else. After he realizes this, he gets the actual picture he should have been looking for all along.
Episode 7: Mysterious Flu
Phillip: In this, Urabe has to balance what’s best for her and what’s best for Tsubaki. She’s helping the track relay team out and she’s trying to decide if joining the team full time would be a good thing. Tsubaki tries to to tell her it would be but it’s evident that he’s worried this would mean they couldn’t be together as often. After he becomes unwell, Urabe has a chat with Oka. Damn, I wish I had grown up in Japan. We have medicine and bed rest for cures to the common cold. Japan get girls giving their significant others a sexy striptease! Ok, ok, all jokes aside, this is a nice compact stand alone episode about Urabe rather than Tsubaki and I can’t fault it. The looks on the boyfriends’ faces, bearing in mind Urabe has her own way of doing things, is priceless. A lot of the weirdness of earlier episodes has been replaced with a curiously quiet normality, or as much as one could be given the circumstances of the pair’s relationship. It’s strange that people would avoid the show based on its premise alone after seeing these types of episodes.
Ink: The normality to which Phillip speaks is possession, and it’s handled with anything but kid gloves. Tsubaki laments Urabe getting closer to Oka as he feels it lessens his specialness in her life. The chat between Oka and Urabe, in addition to inspiring a wonderful bit of willful misdirection story-wise, reveals Urabe’s legs as running metaphor for talent/potential. Therefore Urabe’s possible track team recruitment (or rather the required training time) also becomes Tsubaki’s rival. Tsubaki shelves his id, however, and urges Urabe to be her utmost self even if it means spending less time together. But when you’re young and in love, is that what you really want to hear from your significant other? What follows – Tsubaki’s missing name tag and where it appears – is pretty obvious as branding, but what’s nice is that it’s an “I’m yours” instead of a “you’re mine,” and that carries a lot of weight in terms of respect.
Episode 8: Mysterious Sensation
Ink: Tsubaki wakes from a dream in which Urabe offers him second base: an over-the-uniform copped feel of her breasts. The sensation lingers after Tsubaki wakes, and soon everything – even his sister’s meat buns — reminds him of the imaginary encounter. Determined to walk it off, Tsubaki ends up at the spot of the daily ritual, sighs at the nature of his subconsciously chosen destination, and decides to head in the general direction Urabe goes each day after they part ways. Of course, Tsubaki manages to inadvertently stop in front of the complex that ends up being the one in which Urabe lives, and of course Urabe runs into him. But then the series starts to show some forward motion. Urabe stops Tsubaki from leaving and invites him in for a drink. Nearly out of his mind at the possibilities presented by an empty home and a fortuitously approaching storm, Tsubaki eventually, in a reluctant flood at knife- (scissors-) point, tells Urabe his dream. A little more graphic but still true to formula, Urabe offers Tsubaki a drool substitute. But something changes here. Perhaps it is the seclusion, the daring-do committed to conjure that drool substitute, or the sensation derived therefrom, but after seeing Tsubaki’s reaction and attempt to describe the difference between dream- and drool-based sensations, Urabe makes Tsubaki’s dream come true … literally. Of course, give a guy an inch… Overcome with desire, Tsubaki knocks Urabe down defenseless and takes a liberty that makes Urabe shed a few tears. The look on Urabe’s face snaps Tsubaki out of his lust trance, and the rest of the episode consists of Tsubaki and Urabe coming to terms with what that touch meant and what it will mean.
Phillip: Ah, teenage love. In this episode, you see a simple idea on Tsubaki’s part: the need for physical intimacy with his partner. Sometimes for others, this manifests itself as a real world initiation of action but Urabe and Tsubaki are not that type of couple. So Tsubaki looks inwards to his dreams. And it probably doesn’t help that his girl can literally read his mind. So after wandering around trying to figure out how and what he’s feeling, he finds gone to the source of the answer. The episode shows Tsubaki finds Urabe’s apartment by accident, there’s nothing deliberate in his methods. But we arrive at the scene where Urabe’s permission to let Tsubaki touch her goes too far. To be fair, the creators of the show handle it very well, not playing it for sleaze nor titillation. For a few seconds, Urabe’s overwhelmed by Tsubaki being overloaded. Then we reminded that Tsubaki’s a good kid. After seeing the fear and shock in his girlfriend’s face, Tsubaki’s regard of others (in this case, Urabe) wins out over his regard for himself. But in the fallout, Tsubaki seeks forgiveness and Urabe seeks answers from herself more than she does of Tsubaki. Interesting, no?
Episode 9: Mysterious Sort of
Phillip: Tee hee hee! Panicked boyfriends, bedhead hair cuts and idol photos abound! They are a heady mix, to say the least. After Oka (that girl again!) changes Urabe’s hairstyle, the whole school notices her, as if for the first time. We know, because we’re with them all the time, that Urabe IS a very pretty girl. The rest of the school, however, can’t see past the physical. When Urabe rejects her hairstyle on account of Tsubaki’s feelings, I understand why she takes Tsubaki’s comments seriously. This is not just a jealous boyfriend (there is that, to be sure). This is also a boy telling a girl that he sees her as she truly is and will continue to see her long after others have gone. Nice sentiment. One question: Is messing up your partner’s hair, um, sexyful? Really? Also, Panty Scissors alert.
Ink: In this age where electronic eyes are everywhere, a moment can last a lifetime. As brief an appearance as Urabe’s new hairstyle is, that event is the jumping point for this episode’s focus on jealousy. Photos of the mysterious change surface, and the conversion of Urabe’s depth of beauty into two-dimensional photos taken by one of his peers and sold for 300¥ to his classmates quietly enrages Tsubaki. Likewise, Urabe becomes scissor-mad when she discovers (via Oka) that Tsubaki has been worshipping pictures of an idol for no other reason than the resemblance to Urabe. Her fury, like Tsubaki’s, isn’t directed at photos per se, but rather at the shallow obsession with appearance and subsequent devaluation of those choice moments when her face is revealed to Tsubaki.
Episode 10: Mysterious Affair
Ink: While buying a replacement magazine for the one diced in the episode previous, Tsubaki runs into his old crush, Hayakawa. Her hair has mysteriously changed to something shorter, paralleling perhaps a change of image as suggested by Oka when she had her way with Urabe’s hair. Hayakawa and Tsubaki walk with each other thereafter, playing catch-up. Recently dumped, emotionally vulnerable Hayakawa is very bold in letting Tsubaki in on the fact that she knows about his past crush on her and begs stories of his admiration for consolation. With faithfulness shaken by teardrops in the park shed by Hayakawa in reaction to his own kindness and honesty, Tsubaki breaks after glimpsing an unrealistic river of drool from her sobbing and agrees to casually see Hayakawa on day dates to console her IF he can get to taste her drool. Desperate as she is, Hayakawa offers, but Tsubaki sheds tears moments before, remembering his drool-based bond with Urabe, and declines. Seeing his fault and blaming her own change in appearance for the ineffective seduction, Hayakawa backs down gracefully but then proceeds to set up not one but two manipulative events designed to pit Tsubaki against truth, against Urabe, and ultimately against himself.
Phillip: I agree with Ink, for the most part, about this episode. Hayakawa comes across as a nice person for the most part but at the end, her personality shifts and she becomes a cause not a catalyst of problems. Tsubaki, in this episode, is facing a crossroads. Not unhappy with Urabe but not sure, he talks with Hayakawa because he wants to. But then his past crush and his current love collide because of Hayakawa and her veritable river of drool. Like all of us, he can run away from others but he can’t run away from himself. So in asking for and nearly tasting Hayakawa’s drool, he faces his test and survives with his love of Urabe intact. But, I have to say I completely turned against Hayakawa in this episode. She sees Tsubaki crying, thinking about Urabe before he “cheats” on her, but Hayakawa still plans to break them up. And was I imagining things when I saw that Hayakawa’s bag has a lion charm on it. Urabe’s one is a UFO, which is usually associated with innocent observation of others while lions are predatory, opportunistic hunters. Coincidence?