Well we seem to have hit that “climactic middle” where a series ties up its exposition and proceeds to charge forward into the core of the story’s premise—often times in a new direction than its preface, which can propel the show towards success or actuate its demise. Fortunately, Ano Natsu choreographed this one perfectly, and its reassuring to know that my read on anime hasn’t degenerated completely as Kaori’s reasons for making a brash move at Kaito were pretty much what I had predicted. It was somewhat of a stab in the dark, but not something I’m unfamiliar with as it appears all over in the media. Kaori was rejected by a guy in a similar situation to Kaito and decided to take a trip to Okinawa where, by chance, she discovers Kaito and looks to him as a rebound. As far as the execution went, it was all very well done—the writers dropped enough hints for us to suspect that might be the case, and then pulled out a wild twist by having Kaori be the one to step back and not interfere with Kaito’s blossoming relationship.
What’s more, they even let love-stricken Chiharu know when to stand down, as all aspects of the Tetsurou/Mio department were significantly catapulted forward, even in face of (if not due to) Mio’s nudist tendencies. Kudos to the writers for turning what seemed like a perverted joke into a sentimental juncture that even ended up producing a decent confession. I’m certainly impressed by the unexpected degree in which Kaori and Chiharu played out as catalysts for the other characters’ relationships, with Kaori essentially setting things up and handing the wheel over to Ichika and Chiharu quite literally chasing Tetsuro into Mio’s arms (or Mio into his, whichever you prefer)—just another fine example of Ano Natsu showing us how romantic comedies are really done.
As for Kaito and Ichika, it has been difficult watching the latter’s conflicting feelings snuff the former’s fire, so it’s nice to finally see our alien sempai simply fall in love and set the implications aside (which might be a bit audacious considering all the while their ship decided to blast off without them :) ). She finally made herself available for Kaito to sweep in and boldly take her hand with a maturity that was actually kind of surprising, considering his former submissiveness. I do, however, feel somewhat hurt for drunk Kanna-neko, as it seemed as though everything feel into place after removing her from the equation. I’m almost positive that it wasn’t by chance either that Remon took her aside and got her all nice and inebriated with Dynamite Drink to dull the sting of stumbling across her crush and intergalactic exchange rival exchanging a first kiss. Although we weren’t able to catch her sober reaction, I can’t help but feel sorry for her already, though I predict that this being the mid-way climax means that these are only the ‘first round’ of confessions to be made, and hopefully she can avoid coming up empty-handed (or with alcohol in hand) on the next time around. It may seem as though these newly formed bonds are fairly established, but if history stands as any indication, a group visit to the festival might well blend the order of things into something brand new.