Sorata continues to learn life lessons on Sakurasou. Previously he had learned not to be afraid to go out and try new things. This week, he learns to pick himself up after falling down. Having passed the first stage of the game making contest, Sorata has to present his ideas in front of a committee to convince them that his concept is the bomb. As usual, he turns to Ryuunosuke for advice. Curt as ever, Ryuunosuke reminds him to wear a suit, and then adds that he should practice with the Sakurasou residents almost as an afterthought. After many rehearsals and revisions, the big day arrives. Just as Sorata is leaving, we’re treated to a rather sweet sight as Mashiro expresses her support for him with a few simple words and a good luck charm. This being Sakurasou though, it wasn’t too far-fetched to see that Sorata was going to choke up and fail. It might be a testament to how invested the show has made us though, as I found myself desperately hoping that he would be able to pull it off without a hitch after all.
Returning home completely dejected, Sorata finds out that Mashiro had been successful in getting her manga serialized (their meetings taking place on the same day). He knows that she only means well and is trying to comfort him, but Sorata can’t help but feel resentment at how inadequate he appears compared to her. Man does he throw out some rather bitter comments. Telling Mashiro “this way isn’t forward” as she’s staring at him concernedly? You could almost hear her heart breaking as she turned around and walked away slowly. Sound familiar? That’s right, this is exactly the issue that Jin has with Misaki. And I’m not particularly pleased at such childish logic creating a rift between an otherwise close “couple”. Nanami also overhears the conversation, and starts to realize that Mashiro and Sorata might have feelings for each other. Things start looking awfully gloomy, until Misaki saves the day by proposing they hold a welcome party for Nanami at the pool of all places.
Perhaps surprisingly, the welcome party actually turned out to be one of the strongest moments of the show so far. Mashiro has been giving off hints that she likes Sorata, and here we see what is probably the most direct confrontation of her feelings. After comforting Nanami about her swimsuit figure, Sorata is approached by Mashiro, who also asks him how she looks. And when he attempts to dodge the question, she responds with what can only be described as jealousy. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that she probably doesn’t realize her own feelings, given her “what is love” question earlier in the episode. Of course, that could also just be an elaborate plot to bring Sorata’s attention to her feelings, but I highly doubt that’s the case. In any case, the exchange leaves Sorata feeling even more depressed as he realizes how much he hurt Mashiro earlier. Before things continue on a downward spiral though, Misaki intervenes yet again, and eventually the Sakurasou residents forget about their troubles as they have some fun times at the pool.
The gang soon find out that they aren’t welcome at the pool though, so they decide to hide out in a store room when an angry guard makes an appearance. Awkward positions aside, we get yet another very touching moment between Sorata and Mashiro, as she hands him a new and improved (based on the embroidery) good luck charm, unfazed by his previous cold treatment of her. Despite the charm being for “easy childbirth” (watch her trying to get the charm at the market), Sorata nearly breaks up as he realizes how much she cares for him. And while I’m all for the childish competency comparison being dispelled, Nanami notices this sudden leap forward between Sorata and Mashiro. The show seems to so heavily suggest that she will end up being the unfortunate third wheel that I’m seriously concerned for her. She probably cares for Sorata just as much as, if not more than Mashiro, even though she tends to hide this from him. It would be such a shame for her to be brushed aside simply because she isn’t the “main girl”.
Nevertheless, there are admittedly still plenty of episodes left for the tables to turn, and Nanami certainly isn’t going down without a fight. If anything, she seems even more determined to catch Sorata’s attention, even implicitly admitting that she likes him as fireworks burst in the sky. And what about the very last scene between Mashiro and Nanami? I’m honestly not sure what exactly to make of Nanami telling Mashiro she’s “starting to understand what love is”. It could mean that Nanami just discovered her own feelings, but I always figured she has been aware that she likes Sorata all along. It’s not like she’s been telling herself via hand puppet to “get him on the bed” or anything. Perhaps it was her giving Mashiro a hint about her own feelings? Sort of like a “you’d better get serious or I’ll take him first” kind of thing?
Next week we have yet another blond Brit gracing the show, complete with engrish. Could she be a relative or friend of Mashiro’s?
I decided to take a little look around to see what others have been saying about the characters, and there’s a surprising amount of hate for Nanami. Stuff like “she’s annoying” or “she’s pointless” or “she’s a generic tsundere”. It’s not as if Mashiro isn’t obviously a kuudere, so don’t even try to play the cliche game. But maybe that’s just me being biased towards Nanami. Oh well. Haters gonna hate. I guess the only solution is to go To-Love-Ru and bring in the harem plan. Herp derp.