Ookami was in a giving mood this week. We got a break from ominous new characters and fresh internal/external threats to Erika and Kyoya’s relationship. It’s Erika’s birthday, and while Kyoya seems a little put out at first, he puts in the effort and has a good showing. After all, it’s not like he’s getting nothing out of this; he likes to see Erika happy, so he’s not going to screw up this time.
It may not be much (plus he doesn’t have to lift a finger to plan anything for her date) a sea change from the ‘there’s nothing wrong with me, it’s the world that’s wrong’ attitude. Hanging out with Kakeru and now a newly-reformed Nozomi (who make a great duo) has worn him down; he now knows it’s better to be honest with your feelings and do whatever it takes to make someone happy. It’s part of what love is.
Which is convenient, because when Kyoya asks Erika what she wants for her birthday, Erika says simply, ‘love’. Eavesdropping on her chatting with Ayumi, he learns that for Erika, that means telling her, straight up, “I love you,” and meaning it. Kyoya doesn’t have an issue with meaning that anymore, he does love her, but it’s the actual physical act of saying it that provides the only measurable conflict in an otherwise blissfully perfect date that follows.
Kyoya’s mates clued Kyoya in on something that he adheres to when it comes to interacting with Erika. It’s not about going through motions to placate her, it’s about being natural and wanting to do and say the things he does…which he does, he’s just shy and bashful and has gone so long without acting like a normal emotive human being. Heck, Erika is the one who yanked him out of that abyss to begin with, so while he looks and sounds stiff at times, there’s no doubt he’s enjoying himself too.
What’s so great about the date is how astonished Erika is that Kyoya is being so nice, fully expecting him to flip out at any moment about one thing or another, as before. It makes her happy just to be with him doing these things, but even happier that he’s mostly past such immaturity.
Still, not overtly showing his love (or stating it) throws off a nosy little girl who asks Kyoya straight up if he loves Erika. Kyoya freezes and his face scares the girl off, requiring an apology to her mother.
Kyoya’s inability throughout the day to tell Erika “I love you”, despite a few golden (and more silver and bronze) opportunities to do so isn’t even that huge of a conflict here, as we were pretty sure at some point Erika would give him the in he needed: hearing her say she loves him, so naturally and earnestly, while standing in a busy street, was that in, and Kyoya uses it.
The pretense of saving her from traffic, along with the bright headlights and engine noise, provided enough cover for the shy, bashful lad to say what needed to be said. And doggone it, Erika HEARD him say it!
And that’s what made this episode stand out despite following the well-worn ‘guy/gal has trouble saying I love you’ date episodes: sure, there were the usual false alarms and redirects, but in the end Kyoya said what needed to be said, which he’s smart enough to know was the most important thing he could do for Erika on her birthday. She asked for love, after all.