Since we’re coming close to the end of September, I think I’d better catch up with Sprout (スプラウト), even though subtitles aren’t available yet. When we last left the four main characters, the last shoe had finally dropped, as Souhei (Chinen Yuri) finally found out that his girlfriend Miyuki (Kojima Fujiko) has a thing for his best friend Hayato (Lewis Jesse).

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Making things even more chaotic, Miku (Morikawa Aoi) finds out, too, and this doesn’t bode well for her budding relationship with Hayato, even though Hayato doesn’t seem to be interested in Miyuki at all.

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Yup – no one’s happy. The atmosphere as they gather around the table is grim as Miyuki explains how far back her infatuation with Hayato stretches (as if telling everybody that really helps the situation), but swears that she’s been totally into Souhei since they got together (as if anyone is going to believe that).

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Oh wait, Souhei thanks her for being honest, which is a bit odd since she’s admitting to this after Souhei overheard her words to Hayato.

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What is Miku thinking?

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At least Hayato has the right expression – he looks like he regrets not having told Miku sooner.

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Somehow, this incident seems to have made Souhei even more dedicated to Miyuki. Is it because he knows he has a similar failing with Miku? Well, he doesn’t admit it to her here (not that she doesn’t suspect already).

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After the opening sequence, Souhei and Miyuki are walking together. Souhei has apparently totally forgiven Miyuki. This . . . sucks. I was hoping for some fireworks about the confrontation at the end of the last episode, and it looks like everything has fizzled out.

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But what’s this . . .

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. . . when he thinks nobody’s looking, he has solemn look on his face, though he quickly puts the smile back on when Miku calls out to him.

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Then in the evening, with everyone back in the house . . .

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. . . even the parents of the Ikenouchi household recognize that Souhei’s not himself:

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Miku daringly raises the balcony partition and climbs over to his side to see what’s up:

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Do you think she’s still trying to get with him? We can’t listen to her thoughts anymore. It seems like she’s just trying to cheer him up, but who knows?

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She seems to know that he hasn’t really forgiven Miyuki in his heart, and says his thought are written on his face:

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He snaps a denial, which puts their faces really close together:

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It was unbearably cute – I couldn’t resist including those. The next day, the comic relief – Arata (Yasui Kentaro) and Takeru (Tanaka Juri) – wash up after soccer practice.

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Souhei bumps into the extra girl in the story, who he promptly deals with before moving on:

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Souhei and Miyuki have a date together, but when the topic of Miku comes up, Miyuki’s face sours quickly, though she puts on a fake smile to cover up her real feelings.

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Have I mentioned that I dislike Miyuki intensely? Anyway, in the next scene, we see Hayato working as a waiter . . .

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. . . and Miku walks in with her friends.

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After the first couple of minutes, Miku’s been in a bright and cheerful mood – almost infectiously so.

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So . . . why is Hayato looking like this?

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I think it’s because he only heard part of what Miku had to say. What she said after he made that face should have made him smile, but we don’t know if he heard it.

And . . . it keeps going on like that. Actually, the two couples seem to have opposite problems. You see, Miyuki keeps hearing things that Souhei didn’t say:

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So, the question we are left with is this: which relationship will be in worse peril by the end of this episode – Souhei-Miyuki or Miku-Hayato?

There is a more pressing question in my mind, though: how annoying can Miyuki get? There are two types of self-destructive people – the spectacularly self-destructive and the irritatingly self-destructive. The former type is a lot of fun to watch, and many great movies have been made about such characters. Miyuki is the latter type, and I get the definite suspicion that the writers are going to find some way to make us sympathize with her despite her loathsome behavior. I don’t want to, and I don’t care what happens to her – they’re not going to make me.

I’d call this episode a tiny improvement on the previous one, but it was a huge letdown that the writers didn’t do more with the conflict they set up. Talk about weaseling out of a cliffhanger.

On the bright side, Morikawa-chan reached new heights in her portrayal of Miku, Chinen-kun has me convinced about his acting, and I’d like to see the two of them in more dramas in the future. I’m looking forward to Chinen-kun’s trek with Takaki-kun through France next season, and I’ll review it if I get my hands on it.

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