Sprout (スプラウト) is a half-hour teen romance series based on a popular manga by Nanba Atsuko. It stars Chinen Yuri as Souhei, Morikawa Aoi as Miku, and Lewis Jesse as Katagiri Hayato.

Sprout Title

At the end of last week’s episode, Katagiri confessed his love for Miku . . .

Katagiri Confessing

. . . and Miku seems to remember the moment fondly:

Miku Delighted 1Miku Delighted 2

Continuing in her memory of what happened after the confession, we see that Katagiri knew that Miku liked Souhei, and was willing to give Miku time.

Katagiri and Miku 1Katagiri and Miku 2

The whole thing makes her exceedingly cheerful until she bumps into Souhei, who seems to spend most of his time in the house without his shirt on.

Souhei in Normal Form 1

The sight of him brings back memories of how she felt when Miyuki, Souhei’s girlfriend, showed up unexpectedly at the soccer game when Miku was preparing to launch her scheme to win Souhei over.

Uberangst Moment

And that does some damage to her mood.

Miku Sours

After the opening credits, we see Katagiri telling Souhei about the confession to Miku, but doesn’t mention the fact that the love is unrequited because Miku likes Souhei.

Katagiri and Souhei 1Katagiri and Souhei 2

Miku tells her friends, too, and they immediately try to knock some sense into her. She considers it, then sees the last person in the world she wants to see:

Miku and Friends 1Miku and Friends 2Miyuki

The worst part of it is how nice Miyuki acts, of course. If Miyuki was downright evil, it’d be so much easier.

We also find out that Katagiri is serious about Miku, as he refuses to meet with the other girls who used to hang around him constantly. Hearing their dismay that he finally found someone to settle on, Miku smiles.

Miku Smiles

She has a spring in her step when she passes by Souhei and Katagiri, and Souhei senses an opportunity to bring the two lovebirds together without realizing that he’s the main obstacle. He suggests a double date at the aquarium.

Spring in Her StepSouhei Has An Idea

Katagiri fully appreciates how complicated this double date is for Miku, and charmingly sympathizes with her. I think she’s doing more smiling this episode than ever before.

Katagiri Sympathizes 1Katagiri Sympathizes 2Katagiri Sympathizes 3

While at the aquarium, Miku spends time talking with Miyuki and Souhei with Katagiri. During the talk between the guys, we find out when Katagiri fell for Miku, and why, continuing to get development in his character. Souhei’s motivations still remain a mystery.

Souhei with Katagiri 1

The striking thing about Katagiri is how attentive he is to Miku, and how much space he’s willing to give her with regard to Souhei. Such a teenage male . . . I think might only exist in the imagination of a writer. But even if I feel the character’s a bit unrealistic, at least we’re getting some understanding of him.

Understanding Katagiri

Closer to the end of the aquarium visit, we get the cross-pairings: Katagiri with Miyuki and Miku with Souhei. Here, we get a further hint that things might be a little more complicated than Miku knows. If Katagiri is really as perceptive as he seems, though, he’s the only one in the story with the whole picture at this point.

Souhei and Miku in the Shop 1

After that, Katagiri and Miku get to spend some time together, as the double date ends and they take a walk.

Double Date EndsThey Walk Together 1

The main contribution of the episode was to give us more of a sense of Katagiri’s character and how much he understands Miku. Interestingly, when she asks him what he likes about her, he gives the same reason I do when explaining why I like her character – how you can see what she’s thinking just by looking at her face:

What is it about Miku? 1What is it about Miku? 2What is it about Miku? 3What is it about Miku? 4Miku's Happy

Since everything he says in the episode rings true, it all sort of grabs the viewer (assuming you’ve followed along) and makes us want to root for him. Is it enough? Will Katagiri and Miku get together until some new conflict causes trouble or will Miku’s irrational attachment to the boy she can’t have make us want to shake some sense into her?

Reconciled to the fact that this series isn’t really for me, I think it will be remarkably satisfying to its target audience. The focus was more balanced between the four main characters, and a lot of what was kept bottled-up between them is now in the open, with more revelations to come if the cliffhanger is any indication. Lewis Jesse-kun is showing a bit more range as an actor. It’s difficult to tell whether he limits the character or if the character limits him, but there’s some evidence that it’s the latter. There’s also some hope that we’ll get development in Souhei’s character in the next episode – not a huge chance, but there’s definitely an opportunity.