The twelfth episode was so good, thirteen was going to be all gravy…as long as it didn’t undo what twelve started. That’s the one fatal mistake it could make that would sour the entire season for me. At the same time, I didn’t want the epilogue to be too fluffy. This show was so good at really digging into its characters and making them think and act in believable and compelling ways.
The episode delivered on both of these conditions, and then some. Yes Tomo and Jun are on the same page regarding their feelings, but they don’t just ease straight into a GF/BF situation at the drop of a hat. This is a transitional period, with all its excitement for what’s to come, and a few speed bumps along the way.
Jun is so relaxed, she’s so nervous, and she and Jun are getting along so well, Tomo confides to Misuzu and Carol that she feels like she lost to Jun for harboring anxieties. when they know all too well he’s harboring them to but sometimes better at hiding them. She wants to throw him off balance to even the playing field. Misuzu suggests they see a romantic film.
Now that the confessions are out of the way, it’s great to really see Jun take to boyfriend mode with aplomb. He may be self-critical, but his direct honest manner is part of what made Tomo fall for him, and that’s on display as he praises her cute look, gives her “T” earrings for Christmas, and immediately dons the muffler she knitted for him.
Throughout the date, Tomo notices that Jun is incredibly focused. He softens when saying that he never really connected with romance movies before, and considers that falling for Tomo made them resonate more. When they’re about to part ways, Tomo has to make a move, and she does: inviting herself to Jun’s house.
What ensues is a wonderfully awkward and all-too-relatable scene of two people who like each other, but have never been in this type of situation, kinda freezing with nervousness and self-consciousness. Tomo again asks to sit next to Jun on his bed, but eventually snaps and tells him she came there for a sole purpose: to kiss him.
Jun admits he wants to to that stuff too, but her father told him he couldn’t go out with her until he defeated him. This is an entirely unfair bargain, as even Jun is no match for Tomo’s dad, a legit master and gigantic dude. Even her dad seems to know he kinda fucked up royally, but you can tell he did it out of love and not a desire to control her life.
But miserable as he is (Tomo confronts him and then tells him she hates him—perhaps a first in their relationship as father and daughter) he can’t take back what he said. A warrior’s word being their bond aside, Jun has heard the challenge and can’t ignore it.
While Tomo was being coy about her intentions to, in so many words, “spice things up” by trying to “beat” Jun to a kiss, Jun makes a rookie BF mistake by keeping something extremely important (her dad’s challenge) from her. Everyone (including her dad) erred, but she and Jun are well-developed enough that you totally understand why they erred.
In the midst of all this relationship turmoil, Misuzu and Carol are left out of the lurch, as Tomo doesn’t contact them for all of winter break. Again, this is rookie relationship behavior, getting so involved that your time with your friends dwindles or vanishes. It’s something Tomo can learn from, and in the meantime, both the girls and Kousuke are willing to hear her problems and offer possible solutions.
Misuzu suspects that Tomo isn’t content to watch the two most important men in her life slug it out while she waits passively. No, if Jun thinks he has to do this, he needs all the encouragement he can get, so she comes to the dojo in the middle of their fight.
This gives Jun a far bigger boost than Tomo realizes, because while he no longer regards her from a high pedestal, there’s still a good amount of that adoration for her, such that he believes he can’t stand still for a moment lest she get too far away from him.
His inferiority issues don’t magically disappear now that they both know each others’ feelings. Instead, he holds himself to an even higher standard. Jun, despite not being the sharpest tack on the board, realizes her dad is leaving openings on purpose to compel him to come in close to deliver a crushing blow, at great risk to himself.
Tomo’s dad knows Tomo will rush ahead. He wants to make sure Jun is someone who won’t just watch adoringly, but run beside her, and back her up in this rhetorical hero scenario. Jun doesn’t know if he can put his life on the line for a stranger, but for Tomo? He’ll walk through the gates of hell.
Jun wins the duel with Tomo’s dad by delivering what would have been a knockout punch if his opponent had been anyone else. But when her dad still won’t go down (even though his hand touched the ground), her mom finishes him off with a brutal smackdown. Jun is the winner, and Tomo leaps into his arms with abandon.
With that symbolic hurdle out of the way, Tomo and Jun are free to go out. When Jun interrupts Tomo to tell her he loves her and asks her to go out with him, she curses him for beating her to it. Her punishment is to take things a step further, so she gives him a big old smooch on the lips, in the perfect time and place.
Their kiss mirrors the poster of the movie they saw, and while they’re still far from ready for some of the later steps the movie couple took after the kissing, this is still a huge deal for these two. The floodgates of love are open, some initial stumbling blocks have been overcome, and they’re poised to begin a race that will continue for the rest of their lives together: the race to make each other’s hearts race faster.