After letting herself be possessed by Kuchinawa, Nadeko lies to Koyomi on the phone about nothing being the matter. Taking the form of a white scrunchie on her wrist, Kuchinawa badgers her during the day, until she reminds him that her days were hers to do what she pleased without interference, and in exchange she’ll use the nights to search for his corpse. That night she goes out, but her parents call Tsukihi wondering where she is and Koyomi finds her and brings her to his room. Koyomi suggests she sleep in his bed, but Shinobu knocks him out and takes issue with her passivity, but admits she’s “enchanting.”
Last week showed us what probably awaits us at the climax of this arc: Koyomi and Shinobu fighting Nadeko, who had at some point become twisted by Kuchinawa to the extent that they had to try to take her out – and fail. But this week Kuchinawa and Nadeko are still on their “honeymoon”, with Nadeko striking a deal that she do his bidding in a way that won’t draw undue attention to her. Even so, sneaking out late at night is not normal behavior for Nadeko the quiet “good girl”, and she’s soon scooped up by Koyomi, who may well have some not-so-wholesome ideas for her. Enter Shinobu, who implies she’s saving Nadeko from “early motherhood.”
Once a totally silent, morose-looking little vamp who sat in the darkness, these days ‘Bu speaks her mind, and minces no words in sizing-up Nadeko. She calls her privileged, and when Nadeko protests, she fires off all of the ways she is indeed privileged. Her silence has netted her many boons, among them freedom from suspicion, the consensus that she’s smart and a good girl. Her genuine air-headedness and cuteness “enchants” other humans, to the point Shinobu compares her to an oddity. There’s a good chance while she’s saying all this she’s well aware Nadeko is possessed; she had dealings with Kuchinawa in the past, after all. So her sarcastic call for Nadeko to keep letting Koyomi worry about her is as much a warning as a barb.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- This series has always been known for intimate close-ups of its characters, but camera made particularly sweet love to Nadeko this whole episode, fixating on her from every possible angle as she spoke to her wrist, or later with Koyomi and Shinobu.
- We enjoyed the architecture of Nadeko’s school and apartment, as well as Tsukihi’s rarely-seen, ridiculous bedroom.
- Nadeko’s nighttime adventure starts with a montage of gorgeous still shots that wouldn’t look half bad framed on our walls.
Asuka calls Haruto a liar and storms off. In the middle of the night he tells Rin about his situation, and she offers herself as a third choice, not helping. Back in Tokyo, Haruto dumps Asuka, who is crestfallen. He meets with Yuzuki and gives her his answer: they both desire the same thing: to be together. After thanking Rin for helping him come to a decision, he tells Yuzuki he’s planning to move out of his sister’s place. He encounters Asuka, who can’t bring herself to hate him.
That’s right, folks, in this series, the archetypal “good guy” dies of an unspecified illness and the loyal, trusting, devoted “good girl” gets her heart broken. The two people who caused everyone else the most pain – and therefore earned the most disdain from us – end up with each other, putting their happiness first. Is this selfish? Sure. But it’s also understandable. Haruto always did love Yuzuki and never fell out of love for her. No matter how profound Asuka saw her relationship with Haruto or how much she loved him, he never loved her as much as he loved Yuzuki. Their breakup was inevitable, and it was better to do it quickly than to draw it out. That’s not to say that the breakup wasn’t tremendously brutal to watch – it was…and we felt even worse when she said she’d take him back if it didn’t work out with Yuzuki.
Everything that happened came down to which town everyone lived in and when, making the title fitting. Rin drove Yuzuki out of their town and into Haruto’s, which is how the two met. When Yuzuki left, the distance cause them to drift apart. When Haruto followed her, his timing was off. When she rejected him before and after Kyousuke’s death, he went to Asuka. Then Yuzuki’s love for Haruto resurfaced, and the two reconnected in the town where they first fell in love, dooming Asuka. Several hearts were shuffled throughout this series’ run, but it just wasn’t in the cards for her. Rin too, for that matter: no matter how much she bad-mouthed him, she wanted Haruto too, but lost out to her sister, which was kinda karmic justice for mistreating Yuzuki.
Rating: 8 (Great)
After overhearing Riko, Maki’s behavior changes. She starts making clumsy mistakes and suspends love lab work. Riko tells herself she’ll tell Maki the truth tomorrow, and practices her confession to Sayo in a wig. That afternoon at cram school, a friend of Nagino’s tells Maki she’s naive for believing Riko said she was popular with the guys. Riko arrives and kicks him, then blames herself. Nagino bails her out by admitting he liked her. Maki runs home, and Nagi orders Riko to go after her.
At Maki’s house, Riko finally confesses that she’s also a beginner in love and lied to her. She says she’ll make amends by quitting the love lab, but doesn’t want to, nor does Maki want her too. Maki is sad and disappointed, but also relieved Riko wasn’t forcing herself to hang out with her, and even happy that she’s a beginner like her. At school, Riko confesses and apologizes to Suzu and Eno, and after everyone attacks her with huge slapsticks, the newspaper club enters with the first issue of the underground newspaper.
Love Lab probably wins the prize for least enticing title and premise: a school club devoted to affairs of the heart. And while it’s hit a few bumps here and there, on the whole it was a very nicely-animated exploration of how a small lie at the start of a friendship can grow into a major problem that threatens those bonds, but how a true friendship can endure such hardships, as long as its participants are honest and forthright in the end. Riko is both of these things, thanks in part to Sayo’s prodding (who says her over-thinking is keeping her from acting) and the fact things have gotten so awkward in the club. Minute for minute, this episode probably contained more drama than any previous Love Lab episode.
Even so, the show didn’t abandon its trademark bawdy slapstick comedy either. We get a nice balance of both, which keeps the drama from going melo. The random kid spilling the beans, was, well, random, but it gave Nagi the chance to shine, and also made it imperative that Riko confess. When she did, it was a surprisingly well-acted scene for both her and Maki. It turns the lie about her popularity wasn’t the foundation of any of her friendships, as she feared. The lie was just some of the grout, which can be mended. Maki, Suzu and even Sayo and Eno are friends with her because she’s a kind person who is ready to help others without a second thought. That’s probably why Nagi like(d) her too.
Rating: 8 (Great)