When Nao-chan learns Mitsumi will be going to the zoo with the Shima boy she’s always talking about, she immediately worries that he’s a hot city boy giving a country girl a try before dumping her like a sack of potatoes. She’s concerned enough that she almost considers letting Mitsumi leave the house in the outfit she chose for herself. Almost!
We rewind a bit to Sousuke apologizing to Mitsumi and Mika for when Saijou Ririka bothered them. He says Ririka is a childhood friend, but Mika doesn’t buy it. She digs into Ririka online and learns she was caught drinking in sixth grade and was cancelled for snapping back at online criticism.
Mika now thinks she knows why Sousuke’s so “chill” around girls at school: because he’s a “clout chaser”, surrounded by messy glamorous types like Ririka. Considering she’s still harboring some feelings for the guy, that prospect disappoints her.
But on to the date-not-date between Sousuke and Mitsumi! Nao-chan picks out an adorable ensemble for Mitsumi, but also decides to shadow her on the date, to get a better idea of this Sousuke fellow. Naturally, Mika decided to do the same, thing, and they end up joining forces. Notably, Nao-chan is in “disguise” as a male, and introduces herself as Mitsumi’s uncle.
As you’d expect, Sousuke and Mitsumi have a splendid time together, snug as two bugs in a rug. Mitsumi soaks in the big city zoo and all the exotic and adorable animals, while Shima is soaking up Mitsumi’s wonderful vibes. When Nao-chan asks Mika why Shima took Mitsumi out, she can’t answer; it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking.
But when Nao-chan asks if Sousuke could be toying with Mitsumi’s heart, Mika is unequivocal: there’s no chance of that. Nao-chan reads Mika’s face and deduces that she likes Sousuke too, but Mika insists she just wants to snag a “hi-spec” boyfriend while in high school—any hunk will do!
While on the zoo monorail, Nao-chan and Mika tempt fate by sitting right across from Mitsumi and Sousuke. Sousuke is clearly worn out (it’s a very hot day), and Sousuke suggest they hit up the gift shop and call it a day. When Mitsumi voices her disappointment that they weren’t able to do everything she planned, Sousuke tells her they can simply come again. There’s no reason this had to be a one-time thing.
As Mika overhears, she kicks herself for thinking Sousuke was a “clout chaser”. If anything, that’s a label she could apply to herself. At the gift shop, Mitsumi buys herself and Sousuke matching panda pendant/straps, while Nao-chan reveals her true identity as a woman to0 Mika and suggests they cool down with some mango ice cream at a spot she’s heard good things about.
The second half of the episode is the pajama party, which is relocated to Mitsumi’s house. Nao-chan is so happy Mitsumi has made such sweet friends, and Mika and Yuzuki even start to bond a little over their shared knowledge of fashion trends.
Yuzuki also finally feels she can talk honestly with Mitsumi, Makoto, and Mika, which wasn’t the case at her previous fancy international school. Yuzuki admits she went with the flow and ended up in an undesirable spot; she decided when she transferred she’d wear her heart on her sleeve.
While she might’ve initially come off as cool and even a bit prickly, now that everyone knows her better it’s worked out quite nicely. In her mind, Mika analyzes how Yuzuki’s old classmates might’ve realized how special a girl she was and decided to tease her “just a little”—and feels a little guilty for at times being that kind of person herself.
Meanwhile, Sousuke is at cram school with Mukai, and even there he gets hounded by girls, much to Mukai’s chagrin.
When the evening rolls along, Mika says her goodbyes and takes her leave, as she’s going to go out to dinner with her family. But while on the elevator down to the exit, Nao-chan nails it on the head: there is no family dinner. It’s Mika’s turn to be analyzed—this time by Nao-chan.
She can tell that Mika keeps up with styling trends an clearly worked hard to get into Mitsumi’s school, but lacks confidence and is afraid of being hurt (much like Nao-chan herself at that age). Once outside, she tells Mika it’s not too late to go back inside and say she got the day wrong. Mika says that would be “cringe”, but Nao-chan points out that a little cringe can be endearing.
After cram school, Sousuke is about to go out to eat with Mukai, but gets a text and suddenly runs off. He meets Ririka at a family restaurant, thinking there would be other friends there, but it’s just her. She asks him to go on a walk with him. On this walk, she brings up Mitsumi, “the bob-haired girl”, whom she’s pegged as Sousuke’s “favorite”.
When he says they’re friends, Ririka laughs a cruel laugh, and says he’s always liked “circus acts.” Sousuke doesn’t hesitate to tell Ririka not to talk about his friend like that.
To this, Ririka’s mood sours. She tells him that just because four years have passed since the “controversy” doesn’t mean he has any right to a fun little high school life of his own. Back in the sixth grade, Ririka came along at Sousuke’s urging to the gathering where alcohol was being served, and now her life is under a microscope.
When Ririka wants Sousuke to walk her home while holding hands, the way they used to when they were little kids and child actors, it’s made clear that her interest in him goes beyond their long history. Furthermore, Sousuke clearly feels guilty about what went down with the drinking incident. It makes him servile towards her, and she’s willing to exploit that at will.
While Mika was wrong to be disappointed in Sousuke for chasing after models earlier in the episode, it’s clear there’s a part of him he’s keeping secret from Mitsumi, even as she’s a totally open book.
It’s true that she seems to be developing some deeper feelings for him that he may not feel he deserves to reciprocate. But that aside, they’ve demonstrated they can be open and earnest with each other. I wonder if this Ririka matter is something he’ll ever ask her about.
As Mitsumi has a classic sleepover with her three girlfriends (yes, Mika decided to take Nao-chan’s advice and return to the party. Good for her!), Sousuke lies in his dark, messy room, contemplating his messy past and Ririka’s harsh words. And we must contemplate whether Sousuke starts to put some distance between himself and Mitsumi, heeding Ririka’s warning that he’s not allowed to have a fun high school life. That would be a damn shame.