There’s a changing of the guard at the top of the school pyramid, as Manabu resigns to make way for Nagumo Miyabi of Class 2-A, who intends to turn the school into a true meritocracy.
Meanwhile, Kiyotaka is suddenly Mr. Popular, earning praise (and a warning about Ryuuen) from 1-A’s Katsuragi to being asked out by Satou Maya, who was smitten with his athletic performance. Kiyotaka agrees to an exchange of numbers and a platonic start.
Of course, hot on the heels of the sports fest is the next special test, which is called “Paper Shuffle” and involves everyone being paired off and taking tests with questions prepared from the other classes.
As is typical of CoE the rules are stubbornly labyrinthine, but the Kiyotaka and Suzune agree that the most important aspect of the test is how people will be paired off, which will be chosen by how everyone scores on a mini-test.
Suzune, Kiyotaka, Ken, Kei, and Yousuke meet to talk strategy, and are joined by Kikyou, whose presence Suzune doesn’t protest. Hanging back with Kiyotaka, Suzune tells him that she went to the same middle school as Kikyou, and there were rumors she was singlehandedly responsible for the utter destruction of an entire class.
While Kiyotaka suggests she try to get Kikyou expelled, Suzune still believes there’s a way to make Kikyou their ally. She also makes a point to earnestly thank Kiyotaka, since she knows he was the one who saved her from Ryuuen.
With true villains like Ryuuen stalking about, that’s not an unrealistic hope. He wastes no time outing the Class C traitor, who turns out to be Manabe, a nice connection to a previous special test and the person who more or less brought him and Kei together. Manabe tells Ryuuen that the Class D “mastermind” is either Kiyotaka or Yukimura, the only witnesses to her bullying Kei.
At the cafe, Suzune leads the group in the strategy meeting, proposing that their class be split into four groups based on their academic performance, and for the lower two quarters of the class intentionally get zeros and ones on their mini-tests, so that they’ll be paired with the strongest scores and thus result in a balanced group and minimizing the possibility of any expulsions.
It’s a nifty little plan, and not only does Kiyotaka not involve himself in the meeting, but leaves it all up to Suzune to convince the class, which she does admirably due to her growth in the sports festival softening her edges.
That night, Kei calls Kiyotaka, worried about how things went with him and Satou Maya. He posits that she’s worried he may shirk his responsibility to protect her if he gets close to Maya, but he tells her that they only agreed to exchange numbers for now, and even if it amounted to more, he promises he’ll have her back come what may.
Even though I feel bad for Kei being caught up in Kiyotaka’s web of awfulness, and like Maya I’d strongly suggests not harboring a crush on him, I’m also just glad that she feels happy and safe, and equally certain Kiyotaka is a man of his word when it comes to protecting her. He doesn’t even add “so long as you keep doing as I say”.
Unfortunately for Kei, Kiyotaka ends up being paired up with Maya for the Paper Shuffle, while Suzune ends up with Ken (no surprise there). Everything’s going according to plan so far, but the threat of Ryuuen looms, as does Kikyou’s assertion that expelling Suzune and Kiyotaka is a higher priority than rising to Class A. I certainly hope Suzune makes strides in her peace talks.