A month after the cultural festival, Haru and Shizuku still aren’t getting anywhere, frustrating Asako. Shizuku’s dad’s store goes under, reinforcing her drive to become a successful businesswoman like her mom. When she tells Haru about the goldfish, he promises to catch her a crayfish. She bumps into Yamaken at the library and asks him to help her analyze her state of mind and options; meanwhile Yamaken has fallen for her, which he tells Haru when asked.
Shizuku’s mom is the breadwinner and obviously a strong-willed, domineering woman (or her dad’s just a weeny), but she’s kind of a bitch, too. Some people just aren’t cut out for business. It doesn’t make them failures, and it’s hardly fair to abuse one’s spouse when he’s virtually raising their kids single-handedly. On one hand, she’s made sacrifices – giving up romance and family in order to provide for said family (conceivably bourne out of romance), and that’s a noble thing to do. On the other hand, she’s spent so many years berating the father of her children, Shizuku has essentially been warped into the emotionless, clueless yuki-onna currently struggling with the same dilemma her mother faced, only by choice, not necessity. The cycle continues.
The thing is, in life, one can truly have it all. In a way, it’s easy to dedicate oneself to study while in the Springtime of life, rather than face uncertainty by trying to balance Haru with her bright future. Shizuku’s mom has always been a beacon of certainty, and we wouldn’t be surprised if she’s projecting her loving but insolvent father onto Haru. But she’s not alone in the stalling of their relationship; Haru is being too hands-off and oblivious. Meanwhile, in the midst of offering free advice to her, Yamaken now has the hots for Shizuku (she is cute), forming the second love triangle of the series. This is the last thing Yamaken wants right now, but if Haru remains dilatory, will he make a move?
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Yuzan asks Shizuku for an audience, and Shizuku agrees, curious about Haru. He tells her how Haru was kicked out of the house three years ago and went to live with Mitsuyoshi (where he studied in his spare time). Haru and Yuzan’s father wants him to return home so he can send Haru to a “school he can influence”, but Yuzan personally wants Haru to stay put, and asks Shizuku to make that happen. Haru arrives to “rescue” her, and she makes him hear Yuzan out. He agrees to Yuzan’s plan, but still doesn’t trust him. Shizuku tells Haru not to let her get in the way if he wants to really go home, but he tells her he wants to be with her. Ooshima thanks Haru for saving her and then falls for him right in front of Shizuku.
Shizuku is in love with the Haru she knows, but lurking somewhere out of sight are various jigsaw pieces that make up the complete picture of who he is. Frustrated with not knowing which pieces he’s willing to reveal to her and where he draws the line, she takes the opportunity to learn more when it presents itself in the form of Yuzan. But where Haru conceals those pieces out of worry they’ll threaten his relationship with Shizuku, we’re not sure why Yuzan is hiding things. He relays his father’s desire for Haru to come home, but he doesn’t want him home. He implies “they’ll end up killing each other” if he does and laughs a lot, but the laughing and cheerful small talk about sweets hides his true intentions vis-a-vis Haru. Haru likes directness and honesty, which is one of the reasons he likes Shizuku. Yuzan has neither, and so it’s impossible to trust him.
When he forbids Shizuku from talking to Yuzan again, he’s so caught up in tying her best interests with his that he doesn’t realize he’s giving Shizuku an order he has no authority to give. She stands firm in rejecting that order, and even his “I thought you loved me” card doesn’t sway her. In the end though, they grow closer, once they’re once again honest in what they want: Shizuku will be sad if he goes, and Haru doesn’t want to go home to the “den of evil”. Those positions would seem to align with Yuzan, but who knows. And then there’s a potential new love interest in the bespectacled Ooshima (Hanazawa Kana in Shy Mode), pefectly poised to misinterpret Haru’s general kindness with romantic feelings; the next wrench to be thrown into the gears of Shizuku and Haru’s courtship.
Rating: 8 (Great)
P.S. It’s nominally fun to see the characters playing other roles, but the Edo-period omake “preview” is really neither here nor there.