Boy oh boy. How does Sakurasou keep doing it? I would easily rank it as one of the best shows this year, but as it’s not over yet, I can’t quite make such a statement in good conscience. Now that I think about it, Sakurasou wouldn’t qualify as a “2012 show” anyway since it extends into 2013 thanks to its two cour length. Assuming the rest of it is just as good though, I’m not complaining. But that’s enough babbling; let’s get to the episode itself. Continuing directly from last time, the Sakurasou gang is rocked by Rita’s sudden arrival and her demands to bring Mashiro back with her to England. I had previously wondered what Rita’s true motives could be. It’s fairly obvious that she didn’t come all the way to Japan to bring Mashiro back just because she so strongly believes that Mashiro should be painting instead. And there’s also the rather ominous warning she gives Sorata that Mashiro would “break” him. Clearly, she harbors some less than pleasant feelings for Mashiro, despite the facade of being best friends.
And it is exactly the relationship between Mashiro and her old friend that is developed in great depth this episode. With the Sakurasou group finding themselves pressed on time for their Nyaboron project, they turn to Rita for help as per Mashiro’s recommendation. However, Mashiro’s words of praise are exactly what Rita doesn’t want to hear, and the situation quickly escalates thanks to Ryuunosuke’s cold words. It turns out that Rita’s personal vendetta against Mashiro is a little different than what we might have expected. While others at the atelier back in England quit painting because they realized they could never match Mashiro’s talent, Rita continued to stick it out until she was the only other remaining pupil. What caused her to quit in the end was Mashiro’s apparent complacency. To Rita, it appeared as if Mashiro was literally lost in a world of her own, paying no attention whatsoever to the circumstances of those around her. And it was exactly this nonchalant, unconscious “crushing” of those around her that caused Rita to begin to hate her. Luckily, Sorata is able to make her realize that Mashiro does in fact care for others despite being aloof, and that she is Mashiro’s first and irreplaceable friend. The revelation from the previous scene that Mashiro was staring intently at Rita’s art instead of her own at the gallery was a very nice touch that really helped cement Sorata’s argument. Throw in a heartfelt exchange between the two old friends, and any misplaced animosity quickly washed away with the rain and the tears. Truly, this was quite a touching scene. I’m sure Nanami can attest to that.
As much as this episode focused on Rita though, we also saw a great deal of the mysterious Ryuunosuke. We find out that he has a very straightforward, unrestrained attitude, and isn’t afraid to say “insensitive” things at rather “sensitive” moments. The dynamic between him and Rita was just as fascinating as the relationship between Mashiro and Rita. Having a rather “honest” personality, Rita’s insincere facade really rubbed him the wrong way, and he seems to seize every opportunity to lash out at her verbally. After witnessing her ranting her true feelings at Mashiro, he harshly tells her off, making her realize that she was just using Mashiro as a convenient target to vent her frustration at not meeting expectations. And while this did help indirectly resolve the problem in the end, his intervention only aggravated Rita’s breakdown in the short run, setting us up for one of the most satisfying moments of irony I’ve ever seen. Ryuunosuke’s lecture to Rita about taking others into account was nice and all, but Sorata turning those words right back at him about how he doesn’t think about others’ feelings before saying things takes the cake. Heck, even the timing of it was just perfect, being executed immediately following the lecture.
As for the rest of the episode, events seemed to follow the positive momentum of Mashiro and Rita’s reconciliation, and Sorata manages to pull off his presentation for the Sakurasou gang without a hitch (in fact, he gets a standing ovation), sealing the deal for their Nyaboron antics. Next episode, it looks like we get Ryuunosuke in a maid outfit. I’d call that a trap, but given his ambiguous gender, it might turn out to be a reverse-trap-trap. That’s right; trap-ception.
What’s ugly was Rita taking out her frustration on Mashiro, even going so far as to attempt to ruin her reputation. I guess Ryuunosuke’s insensitivity also counts, but I hesitate to put that here. It’s true he said some rather hurtful things, but I don’t believe he had any malicious intent. That’s just how his personality is.