Last week was foreboding, portentous, and left us more than a little concerned that the second half would be a long drag careening toward disaster, but as it turns out, we were getting ahead of ourselves. Ghost Banri’s curse may yet have teeth, but it has yet to assert itself. Meantime, we get a very pleasant slice-of-life episode that garners two unexpected surprises.
The first is that Chinami and Koko become friends, in spite of Koko’s insistence that such a thing not be allowed to happen under any circumstances. It all starts with Koko eavesdropping on Banri’s phone call with 2D-kun (Hey, 2D-kun!) in which she learns Mitsuo hasn’t been able to hang with Banri all Summer, suggesting he may have a girlfriend. Because they’re like us, we assumed that would be Chinami, but the show played us and played us well: Chinami hasn’t seen Mitsuo all Summer either. And since they’re there, Banri, Koko and 2D hang with Chinami, ultimately deciding to go on a beach trip.
Early in the second half of the series, episodes like this where collected friends simply hang out is a good thing; in Chinami’s case it allows us to learn more about her. One reason for the beach trip is to get her mind off her immediate troubles: her parents are moving back to her hometown, so she needs to find a new apartment. Chinami was already nicely fleshed out in the amusement park episode, but it’s satisfying to see her grow from simply an adorable foil to Koko and potential love interest to Mitsuo into a genuine friend, someone Koko can talk to candidly about Banri. Without even knowing it, Koko has gained something she’s never had before: a confidant—although it could be argued she that with Banri, back when Mitsuo was her object of affection/obsession.
One reason Chinami and Koko end up hitting it off so well is the knowledge that Chinami isn’t going out with Mitsuo, which eliminates her as a threat. But another reason is the second surprise of the night: Mitsuo is going out with Linda. That’s a really brilliant move, if you ask us, and damn do they look good together. The moment we saw them, we felt the same dull pain in the chest we’re sure Koko must have felt when she saw Banri’s subtle but unmistakable reaction. Banri may be totally cool with Mitsuo and Linda as an item. But even with Chinami’s assurances, it will take more than that to convince Koko that she doesn’t have anything to fear, which is why she initially plans to wear as little as possible on the beach trip. Banri—the present Banri, that is—has set his course. Now we’ll see if he can keep to it as the seas get rougher.
Rating: 8 (Great)