The previous episode of Sprout (スプラウト) ended with Miyuki (Kojima Fujiko) disappearing, which means that Souhei (Chinen Yuri) has to go search for her . . .

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. . . and get his best buds Arata (Yasui Kentaro) and Takeru (Tanaka Juri) to do so as well – with the viewer knowing that Takeru also has feelings for Miyuki.

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It sounds like she didn’t go far, though.

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Miku (Morikawa Aoi) talks it over with Hayato (Lewis Jesse):

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When she tells Hayato that Souhei and Miyuki had a fight, he remembers seeing Souhei and Miku together.

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Once again, though, the story depends on these teenagers not telling one another about the issues they have with each other. It’s all about keeping feelings secret until . . . well, until they decide to disappear for a while.

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I’ll have to make a note of that – romantic plots depend heavily on lack of communication. Oh, looks like Souhei’s finally found Miyuki:

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Does she look like she’s ready to talk?

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Well, she does talk. She was, of course, testing Souhei. But is this a pass or fail?

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Miku delivers the news to Hayato, but the fact that she seems more concerned about how Souhei’s feelings than Miyuki’s welfare leaves Hayato cold.

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Hayato looks like he’s about to communicate what he’s thinking to Miku, but naturally decides to keep his mouth shut and turn away. Love as a guessing game.

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We get a little flashback about the significance of the place Souhei found Miyuki.

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And then a repeat of it in the present, with different results. Actually, rather the opposite results.

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I wonder if this is really in-character for Miyuki. Would she really be willing to give up Souhei, when she has been so protective of him and jealous of Miku’s encroachment?

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At the same time, Hayato is putting light years between himself and Miku:

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Souhei, at least, has something to say to Miyuki:

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But suddenly, it looks like Miyuki understands what’s happened. As if she had an epiphany, she starts talking and making sense:

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Perhaps she was thinking this all along, but was unwilling to admit it? That doesn’t explain the way she acted and her expressions in earlier episodes, though, so I think she only recently came to this realization. I still can’t figure Miyuki out, but that’s fine, because the guy who’s been her boyfriend for years can’t, either.

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Somehow, she’s managed some character development, separating her identity from Souhei’s . . .

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. . . but we really didn’t get to see that, did we? How will Souhei react to her words?

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This was easily the most difficult scene in this series for the actors, and it’s the story’s pivotal scene. It had to happen at some point – here it is. And the actors did a pretty good job of it, too – just the right blend of emotions. Given only this one chance to do her character justice, Kojima-san succeeded.

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Does a similar moment lie in the future for Miku and Hayato?

Takki (Hashimoto Ryosuke) once again displays unusual empathy, diagnosing immediately what’s wrong with Souhei, and prescribing – what else? – games as the remedy:

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In the end, Souhei concludes that Takki is the perfect person to talk to . . .

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. . . and he’s probably right.

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It’s probably a sign of how low my expectations have become that I came away from the episode thinking, “well, at least something happened.” To be fair, though, we saw some really good acting this time around, and the time passed at a better pace than usual. No snail crawl.

Thanks to arisu_subs for the wonderful subtitles.