While he’s no stranger to the beauty of Hina Dolls, having a real-life woman in a bikini in his room, followed by playing the eroge she loves so much, was bound to be a shock to Gojou’s system.
Sure enough, he dreams about Kitagawa, in the completed Shizuku-tan cosplay, starting to act like the eroge character, resulting in Gojou waking up with a surprise in his pants that makes him ask his Hina Doll head to look away.
It’s a frank but fairly accurate depiction of how things might likely go for someone so poorly socialized if confronted with stunning beauty and sexiness in such short order. But up to this point, he and Kitagawa have interacted one-on-one.
He’s nervous about how others would see them together, even when Kitagawa greets him warmly and her stylish friends are perfectly friendly with him. She doesn’t tell them“be nice to this guy”—if he’s alright with Marin-chan, he’s alright with them!
Even so, all of the muttering and rumors he overhears causes Gojou to avoid Kitagawa the rest of the day, for what he deems to be “her own good”. When she finally finds him hiding and confronts him, and he mentions people saying they might be going out, she can’t help but tease him by asking “then why don’t we?”
Before that though, it’s clear Kitagawa is genuinely hurt by Gojou avoiding her, saying it “sucks”. Sure, she could be a bit more patient with someone with such poor social skills, but it’s also a good idea not to let him adopt bad social habits. As far as she’s concerned, they’re already friends—something he hadn’t even considered, but has no reason not to believe.
With that, Kitagawa leads Gojou by the hand to Ikebukuro to shop for the materials needed to make the Shizuku cosplay. Kitagawa is extremely impressed by Gojou’s schematics and attention to detail. I also love how into the nitty-gritty this gets, and how the project stokes Gojou’s creative fire.
Among the nice details: Gojou suggests a richer cloth to accurately depict the high-class school Shizuku attends, and while Kitagawa picks a plain black wig, he tells her she’ll look more like a real-life Shizuku if the wig is more on the deep purple side.
Needless to say, Kitagawa is really glad she brought Gojou on the shopping trip. Had she gone alone (or not made the effort to track him down when he tried to avoid her), she’d have made the same mistakes she’s been making while going the cosplay path alone. In effect, he’s helping her make the right choices for the best possible final product.
In keeping with the equitability of their relationship, Gojou’s sage artistic advice is rewarded with things Kitagawa can offer, like a peak at her garterbelt, and buying him dinner. Watching Gojou stand so awkwardly in the lingerie shop is just such a relatable moment, even when Kitagawa says everyone there will assume they’re a couple and not care.
After ramen, a woman in line for the restaurant spots the two high school kids and thinks how nice it must be to be young…then she and other adults overhear the two discuss the eroge in enthusiastic detail and conclude that high school kids are terrifying. But that’s a loaded word. I’d say they’re just very specific in the things they’re passionate about.
Another cute detail is when Kitagawa shows Gojou a bunch of photos of cosplayers on social media, and he notes that she’s into characters with black hair…to which she says “look who’s talking” with his Hina doll love. It’s also clear the pint-sized model and the girl cosplaying male roles is one of the two yet-to-be introduced characters in the show’s promo art.
When Kitagawa’s calling all of the models in these photos “beautiful”, then notices he seems distracted, she asks him what’s up, and he relays to her his preference only to use the word beautiful for things that truly touch his heart, like the first time his gramps showed him Hina dolls.
Kitagawa doesn’t judge his ideals about beauty; she tells him if that’s what he’s decided, it’s totally fine, and it’s important to have things you don’t want to compromise on. The quality of the Shizuku costume is one of them, and I have no doubt that when it’s complete in two weeks(!) in time for an event Kitagawa wishes to attend, she’ll be able to move his heart to the extent he has no choice but to call her “beautiful.”
Before they part ways, Kitagawa offers him an indirect kiss in the form of a bite of meat-wrapped onigiri, and then has a moment of self-consciousness when she senses he thinks she’s pigging out. But before she catches her train, she makes sure to tell him how grateful she is for all his help and advice, for actually playing the game she loves so much, and for just being there for her in a way no one else can.
It wasn’t an official “date” but it might as well have been one, and a good one at that! Both parties came away having learned more about each other and liking each other even more as a result. That two-week deadline is going to be tough, but I have every confidence that Gojou will get the job done, and done well.