Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack – 03 – Tortoise and the Bunny Girl

This is a week of Naoto taking the initiative, which is progress! When Hayase heads to her homeroom for girl talk with her friends, she leaves her phone in the art clubroom. Rather than wait for her to come back, she heads down to the first-years’ hall and even asks one of them where Nagatoro’s classroom is.

It dawns on him he doesn’t know her first name beyond the “Hayacchi” nickname, but that’s enough for the girl to point him in the right direction. Unfortunately, when Hayase comes in with Sakura and two other friends, he panics, hides in the broom closet, and inadvertently eavesdrops.

It’s there where he hears Hayase reluctantly tell her friends that “her type” is someone she likes hanging out with. Someone…like Naoto? He ends up banging the side of the closet, and he’s lucky Hayase goes to check it out, distracts her friends, and gets him out of there.

Hayase thanks Naoto, but says he was being “actually creepy” in a very stern tone…and she’s right! Accident or not, Naoto shouldn’t be hiding in the broom closet of her classroom while she’s engaged in girl talk! This also pretty much confirms that when she says “creepy” and words like it, most of the time she doesn’t mean it.

Naoto wants to impress Hayase for once, so he actually practices running in preparation for the next school marathon. Unfortunately, he twists his ankle the night before, but it feels good enough to run the next day. That’s when Hayase and her friends catch up to him and challenge him to a race.

When the girls watch Sana running in bunny girl cosplay as performance art, they decide that they’ll help the tortoise (Naoto) beat the hare by giving him a boost. The train gets separated at a crosswalk, but Hayase and Naoto continue on their own.

When Naoto’s ankle barks at him again, Hayase can tell what’s up, and decides right then and there she’s not going to leave Senpai behind. She supports him and they walk in each others’ arms. When the pain gets worse, she insists he let her carry him on her back.

Naoto is impressed how far the tiny Hayase is able to carry him, but it becomes clear that even a “twiggy string bean” like him is a bit too much weight. Fortunately, Hayase’s pals meet back up, and propose a cavalry formation, with Paisen as the rider.

The combined strength of the four girls is enough to catch up to Sana. When she kicks into another gear, Yoshi takes point and makes herself big so the others are in her slipstream. They end up beating Sana to the finish, but are promptly disqualified for not running separately.

Nevertheless, it’s a wholesome and heartening exercise in which Hayase and her pals help Naoto out without any teasing, bullying, or insults. They’re just having fun out there!

Naoto’s final instance of taking the initiative is when Hayase doesn’t visit the club room for two straight days. Curious about her whereabouts (and apparently unable to message her) he asks Gamou and Yoshi, who are surprised he’s approaching them on his own for the first time.

They tell him Hayacchi has a cold, then do him a solid by handing him printouts to deliver. When no one answers the doorbell, Naoto worries Hayase is in dire straits and peeks in the window. As with delivering her phone to her classroom, good intentions lead to more “actually creepy” behavior.

This time he’s caught not by Hayase…but by her big sister! She snaps a photo and threatens to report him to the police, but he tells her he’s from Hayase’s school and has brought her printouts and a gift, the sister softens her stance, now that she’s finally in the presence of “the Senpai.” Clearly, she’s heard a bit about him!

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! – 03 – Youthful Indiscretion

Naturally, Tomo is shocked and feels betrayed by the fact she’s only now hearing about Jun and Misuzu going out. Misuzu only kept it from her because she herself preferred if it never happened. Jun asked her out on a whim, and they dated for a grand total of three days. I’m also convinced Misuzu calls it “youthful indiscretion” since that was practically Hidaka Rina’s character Yume’s catchphrase in My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex.

We also learn that Jun avoided Tomo for the entire first year of middle school, and they didn’t reconnect as best buds until he’d dumped Misuzu. Like her, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s likely that Jun asked Misuzu out because he was trying to avoid the fact that he had developed a thing for Tomo, and wasn’t ready to deal with that.

It’s become ever clearer that Tomo is not the best judge of whether Jun sees her as a girl, since the moment Jun learns that she’s in the boy’s karate club, he freaks out, and is particularly hostile towards Misaki. The two end up bonding (somewhat) on a bus ride when Jun admits that in a fight with rules like karate, he can’t beat Tomo either; she’s “too incredible”.

The next day after school, Jun asks if Tomo is free to hang, but she has plans with Misuzu and Carol to get tea. She runs into Ogawa and Mifune, who are harboring some very confusing feelings about Tomo and are so shocked by the sight of her in pants that they flee. Misuzu warns Tomo that she can’t keep blowing him off, and shouls arrange a date.

Tomo is dubious that Jun will be as pliant as Misuzu predicts, but when she does take the initiative and ask if he’ll hang, his reaction is just like that of a golden retriever who found out he’s going on walkies. Misuzu and Carol decide on the best outfit for Tomo, one that’s a bit girlier than her usual garb, but not so girly she’ll be too self-conscious.

The resulting white pullover, gaucho pants, and white sneakers ensemble really hit the mark, though Jun doesn’t let Tomo know how cute she looks, the swine. What he does do is let the two of them slide right back into their normal hangout routines: going to the batting cages and bowling. Each time, Tomo is certain she can’t hit a 160 kph fastball or roll a 16 pound ball, but in both cases, she’s still right on Jun’s level.

She then asks Jun if they can go to karaoke, and immediately acts like he said know when he actually said yes, leaving Tomo in a bit of a spot, as she hadn’t thought any further than “going to karaoke.” The place is a lot more intimate than she expected, and since the only songs she knows are children’s songs, that’s what she sings … and Jun records her.

The thing is, he’s not recording for blackmail purposes (though the minute Misuzu and Carol hear he has footage of her singing they want it). He was thrown off how…different Tomo was that day. But not thrown off in a bad way. Clearly it’s a side of Tomo he’d like to see a little more of.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Tenten Kakumei – 03 – So Far From Me

It is a crying shame that such an intelligent, capable, and beautiful young woman as Euphyllia finds herself in such an existential purgatory. She’s immediately sympathetic as someone whose life has taken such a sudden, sharp turn, she’s still recovering from the whiplash. This episode focuses on the young lady and the unmoored feeling that now suffuses her days.

There’s no morning bed talk between Euphie and Anis, as the latter had flown of on her broom at dawn. She reappears during Euphie’s breakfast, setting off the house alarm system she invented, and offers Euphie a chance to ride the broom. While Anis promises not to let go, she does so, and Euphie takes to the skies full of joy and excitement. It’s only when she realizes Euphie isn’t behind her that she comes crashing down.

It’s a fitting practical symbol of Euphie’s difficulty acclimating to the sudden freedom Prince Algard’s shunning and Princess Anis’ friendship has afforded her. Ilia, the not-so-secret MVP of the show so far, assures Euphie that Anis was once even more absurd, idiotic, and insane, while at the same time calling her duty to her mistress a perk.

Ilia tells Euphie if she “doesn’t like” the current arrangement, she should say so now and save both of them. But Euphie doesn’t dislike it, she simply doesn’t quite yet understand Anis, saying she feels “so far from me.” Iwami Manaka delivers this line with such longing and vulnerability, I almost felt like Honda Tooru had entered the room.

There’s some foreboding about Euphie’s audience that day, but once it takes place I see that I had nothing to worry about. Both her father Duke Grantz and King Orphans contine to be the Best Dads. Both the prince’s and his friends (themselves sons of powerful nobles) have one version of the story, while Euphyllia has another.

Neither man questions Euphie’s version of events nor blames her for giving Lainie Cyan advise. Euphie refrains from vilifying Algard, as even in the moment she was being insulted and humiliated, she felt more righteousness than malice, like the prince was yanking against that which tied him down.

In this scene Iwami Manaka once more shows how good she is, resigned as she is to the fact the prince’s heart never had any room for her, but that fact isn’t a source of great pain. What she truly feels is nothing; numbness. While her father meant well, telling her she doesn’t have to worry about the future, and there’s “nothing for her to do” might just hurt her more than Algard did.

When she pays a visit the royal servants who had been preparing her portrait and wedding gown, Ilia mentions how bad Anisphia is at maintaining her measurements, and how it requires constant mending of her dresses. At the same time, Ilia adds that Euphie is now free of corsets and bustiers. There’s nothing to tie her down. Nothing at all.

The next morning, a totally sleep-deprived Anisphia bursts into the dining room like a bat out of hell, wearing practical work clothes. She’s extremely excited to present Euphyllia with the magical tool she promised to make. It’s a sword that allows Euphie to summon and focus all of her various magical skills. Fittingly, Anis names the sword Arc-en-Ciel.

This is another subtle yet effective nod to Anis’ past life in our world, as it is a French word for rainbow. Rainbow also carries double meaning as a reflection of the many colors and kinds of magic Euphie can wield, as well as its status as an LGBT symbol. With Arc-en-CielAnis hoped to unlock Euphie’s smile, as well as to see her magic, which Anis considers more beautiful than anyone else’s.

So much great dialogue and vocal performances and nuanced facial expressions fills this episode, which is the most melancholy of the three and the closest look yet into Euphyllia’s personality and present situation. It all culminates when after Euphie’s badass demonstration, she and Anis sit under a tree together to rest.

Anis, who stayed up all night working on Arc-en-Cielnods off and rests her head on Euphie’s lap. But before she does, she says the sword and Euphie are a “perfect match” because Anis always thought she was “pretty as a rainbow”, and “so pretty it’s unfair.” It’s the first time anyone’s rested their head in her lap, and it makes Euphie cry.

She cries because she envies Anis so much for being who she is, and how badly she wants to be “even the least little bit” like her. But after harrowing days of being told she has nothing more to do, nothing to worry about, and nothing tying her down, here’s this feral princess literally weighing her down, keeping her tethered to the ground, with her. It’s something that must feel so good one could cry.

Euphie may still be overwhelmed by a personality so opposite hers, but at the end of the day, she has a good heart and kind soul just like Anis. In time she’ll surely feel more comfortable and more like she belongs. She may even find some of the Euphie she envies so rubbing off on her—and vice-versa. Freedom can be terrifying, so it’s best to have a guide.

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