Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! – 04 – Curry and Rain

This episode starts with Hana paying Shinichi an unannounced visit to his apartment. It’s Golden Week, and she had a reasonable expectation he’d be home and wouldn’t have anything going on. She gets him to join her on a Doraemon Go! trip outdoors, but his eyes are bothering him from all the gaming, so she takes him shopping for glasses. That’s where they encounter Ami, who is back from her family.

The two proceed to gang up on Shinichi, having him wear increasingly ridiculous glasses and then laughing at him. Considering Shinichi is not an M, he’s not really having fun, and the scene gets a bit uncomfortable, especially when Ami lies about having a serious pair for him, only for them to be over-the-top aviators. Shinichi has had his fill of this, so when Hana finally tries on a pair, he insults her and the two dive into a spirited bickering session.

It’s not a particularly good start for two people who are presumably eventually going to click as a couple, but when the train they’re on gets increasingly crowded, their dynamic morphs from aggressively adversarial to protective, as Shinichi’s relatively large body shields her from the crush of new passengers. Eventually the chests of the two are pressed together, Shinichi’s heart rate increases, and both he and Hana start to blush.

She remarks that they’re in a “wall slam” like situation, without getting into how she feels about that, though she admits there’s not much to be done about it; there’s no space. Rather than reckon with the present situation, Shinichi withdraws within himself, trying to block out all sight and sound, only for the smell of Hana’s hair to become more prominent. He ends up passing out standing up, and gets separated from Hana when the doors close between them.

When he comes to form his mini fugue state at the end of the train line, he sees missed calls from an obviously worried Hana, and feels bad. Back at the cafe, Ami suggests the best way forward is to simply reach out to her. At the college common room Hana is down in the dumps because it’s so gray and dreary and “there are no holidays in June”.

So Shinichi, unbidden, takes the initiative and suggests they hang out together to at least make the free time they have worthwhile, and also to make up for leaving her in the lurch on the train. The day they’re to hang out there’s even more rain, and Hana is soaked on her way to his place.

No matter; she simply showers (after playfully asking if he’d join her), borrows his much larger clothes, and cooks up some tasty curry. They spend the day playing Meowcraft, building a ridiculous structure together. Shinichi’s got his new glasses to cut down on blue light, and in general the atmosphere is so much more pleasant and comfortable than the glasses store debacle.

Aside from a brief vertical pan on a showering Hana there’s minimal fanservice and more importantly, no teasing or bickering. Between the close quarters, the shared clothes and cooking together, there’s a lovely domestic intimacy to their day, and even if it never veers into overt romance there’s definitely ample chemistry and amity we frankly needed to see after Glassesgate.

When Shinichi walks Hana to the station, the rain has stopped, and it feels like they’ve reached a milestone in their relationship. Not only did Shinichi suggest they hang out; not only did they thoroughly enjoy themselves, but he suggests she come by another time, something Hana thought wouldn’t happen so fast. She throws caution to the wind and proposes tomorrow, and Shinichi is fine with it!

Now Shinichi knows what it’s like to hang out with Hana on a rainy day, without Ami or any other bystanders to provoke any sniping or misbehavior. The two end up getting along famously. While Shinichi will probably always value his solitude, it’s clear he no longer sees hanging out with Hana to be a hassle or a chore, and something to which he can actually look forward rather than dread. It’s very promising development!

Golden Time – 09

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Kouko says she has a cold, and when she returns after several days, she still doesn’t seem right. She confides to Banri that she’s scared and anxious about whether he really loves her. Banri comforts her and assures her he loves her and everything is fine. The “Ghost Banri” remembers comforting Linda in a similar fashion when they were third-years. She found out her brother’s fiancee was cheating on him, and planned to expose her with pictures.

Linda changed her mind and instead confronted the fiancee directly, agreeing not to tell anyone if she stops. Linda is scared and anxious of the choices she’s made, but Banri promises to stand by her no matter what, though stops short of confessing his love. In the present, when Banri tells Linda Kouko is still out sick, she repeats the words he told her. That night, Ghost Banri regains Banri’s body, along with his memories of the past.

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Golden Time shows it’s not content to sit on its hands for a single episode; developments have been coming with great alacrity belying the fact this is a two-cour series. This liberal distribution of meaty plot is most welcome. Going in, part of us feared this might be the episode where Banri and Kouko break up. And while Banri reaffirmed his love to Kouko and set things straight (in a sweet, beautifully-directed scene), the fact is the episode ended with a totally different Banri; the one only we can see and hear.

Serious kudos to the flashback, which enriches Banri and Linda’s relationship, going back to before he confessed to her, to what Ghost Banri believes to have been a missed opportunity, while also showing that Banri promised something to Linda that his amnesia wiped out, leaving Linda not only without her best friend, but also without someone to share the knowledge of what she did. After her discovery, she was basically trapped, with no way to resolve the situation without hurting her brother in some way, either with truth or lies.

In his interactions with Kouko in the present, New Banri shows that like his past self, he’s a guy who will rise above his unreliability and weakness to shoulder the burdens of the woman he loves. Linda may not know it, but by re-reciting Past Banri’s ornate non-confession back to him, it’s as if she said the magic words that break the spell. Fate has been cruel to Linda for a long time, but now it seems it’s turned on New Banri—in many respects a different person—and on Kouko. Meanwhile, Ghost Banri may have gotten his wish: for things to return to the way they were.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Golden Time – 05

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After finding the photo of him with Linda, Banri visits the bridge where he was injured. Kouko declares him a “great friend”, and next morning is acting strange again; too enthusiastic. She and Banri join the festival club, but Kouko struggles with dancing. She bursts into tears, but later apolgizes to Banri for taking advantage of his kindness. In a flashback, the “past” Banri recalls seeing a light in the forest from his hospital room. He escapes and checks it out, and bumps into Linda, whom he doesn’t recognize. Linda doesn’t lead on that he knows her, but she still convinces him to go to Tokyo and start over.

Well…we weren’t expecting any of that! Not that that’s a bad thing; we prefer being surprised to knowing how things are going to proceed – as long as no sharks are jumped. It turns out we were a little premature in celebrating Banri’s confession to Kouko, and with good reason: turns out that wasn’t the perfect time to do so. Kouko is only two days removed from the Mitsuo incident; her emotions are still confused, and if she’s honest – and to her credit, she’s extremely honest throughout this episode – they were confused before, too. She still feels hopeless, and so she’s willing to take whatever kindness and understanding comes her way. But yeah, even she knows by expressing her hope she and Banri can be good friends, she’s essentially rejecting the guy, at least for the time being. Banri is disappointed, but for much of the episode he’s preoccupied with that photo of him with Linda.

Who was she to him, and why is she acting like they just met? As soon as he found that photo, we wanted Banri to simply confront Linda and ask her these question, with the same resolve with which he stepped up and confessed to Kouko. We can take a guess why: it could be Linda’s way of “respecting” the “New Banri.” Whatever her relationship was with him, that was a different person. The show makes a very interesting choice in providing us with answers New Banri isn’t privy to, courtesy of the bodiless “Old Banri”, a device which works for us. The flashback not only confirms that Linda cared a great deal for Banri, but we’re given more evidence for why she’s stayed mum about knowing Banri: in that flashback, he vows to cast away all his old bonds…and though he doesn’t know it, she’s one of them.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Kouko demonstrates that when you’re “good friends” with her, you’d better be prepared to take the good with an occasional side of crazy. The latter is a part of her; it didn’t vanish just because Mitsuo abjured her.
  • The flashback builds on the cold open of episode two, when Banri was walking through the forest. Though this time, it’s not Kouko beyond the light, but Linda.
  • We really dig past Linda’s hairstyle. Wonder if changing her hair had something to do with wanting to “start over” once what happened to Banri happened.
  • We see that  Linda has a motorbike. Was that supposed to make us think she was the one who ran him over in the first place? WHY ARE WE THINKING THAT?!