On a perfect, dazzling day, suddenly Naoto and Hayase are off on their first date together. When Senpai steals a glance, Hayase makes clear this is just “practice”, but I didn’t believe her for a second. Meanwhile, Gamou and Yoshi are following the couple close behind, while Hana and Sana are in hot pursuit, with Hana fanatically determined to protect Senpai’s love.
Gamou and Yoshi are worried it’s several centuries too early for Naoto’s cherry to pop, likening it to Kushana releasing a God Warrior prematurely. When there’s a dang Nausicaä reference in the first two minutes, you know it’s going to be a special episode!
Despite all the potential interference, Naoto and Hayase end up having a blast, even with Hayase constantly “docking points” for various demerits. At the same time, she takes an unironic selfie with her arm around her Senpai, and he accidentally does exactly what she wants him to do when she takes her hand in his and runs. He’s spotted her friends, but thankfully, Hana and Sana block them from following.
The dating bliss continues with Hayase messing around with tasting each other’s ice cream until their cones collide and they get the indirect kisses she was teasing about. At the dolphin show, Naoto acts super cool by keeping a splash of water from hitting Hayase, who thanks him by drying him off with a towel (she came prepared!). Also hilarious is the way Hayase mimics penguins and turtles messing with each other in how she messes with Naoto.
Their date reaches its finish with a romantic sunset walk on the beach. Hayase tallies up all of Senpai’s point deductions and additions, and comes up with 50 (out of a thousand) points, which Naoto thinks is pretty harsh. That’s when he asks what she thought of her role in this date, whereupon she says she considered it “the real thing” (as opposed to just practice).
Naoto says he never thought of it as a dry run either, phrasing that Hayase immediately jumps on, as it sounds like he wanted a “wet run”. At this point, Gamou and Yoshi are ready to stop Hayase before she “takes Paisen’s virginity”, but in a shock twist, Yoshi acts on her own for the first time in the series and stops Gamou, lest they become “cock-blockers.”
Hayase proposes one of two endings for their date, since it is for real after all: a hug or a kiss. Naoto goes the safer route, which is more than enough for Hayase as at the end of the day she’s as shy about this stuff as he is. They open their arms to each other and draw nearer, only to be interrupted by the Sunomiyas chasing her friends. Hayase then pretends she and Senpai are merely practicing judo. No one is fooled, but the moment is spoiled.
Back at school, Hayase avoids Gamou and Yoshi for a time, but at Sakura’s urging, makes up with them by inviting them to eat lunch in the clubroom with Senpai/Paisen. Hayase is mortified to find Hana feeding him a homemade lunch as an apology for following him on his date. It’s here we get perhaps Yoshi’s best one-liner: “Foie gras!”, in reference to Hana stuffing Naoto with food.
Hana offers to make his lunches all week, but Hayase puts a stop to that by declaring she’s got his lunch covered tomorrow. When she asks Senpai if that works, he brings up her morning practice and not wanting to be too much of a nuisance. This pisses Hayase off, but he’s not done: he’ll make lunch for her tomorrow, then she can make it for him the next day. Needless to say, it’s a deal!
That afternoon on their walk home, Hayase exploits the fact they’re alone again and proposes they finish the ending to their first real date. Naoto is flustered, but ultimately game. What follows is one of the warmest, most tender and heartwarming scenes I’ve seen in an anime in recent memory, which not only another utterance of “creepy” from Hayase can spoil.
Seeing the two gently come together and stay that way, and seeing how happy it makes both of them to finally be able to be this close without putting on excessive airs, is the perfect way to end the episode, and the season. It wasn’t a kiss, but it didn’t matter. I award full marks, no deductions!