Piece tells the story of Suga Mizuho (Honda Tsubasa) and Narumi Hikaru (Nakayama Yuma). They were a couple in high school, and meet again three years later upon the death of a classmate. It’s billed as a mystery, but what the substance of the mystery is remains a . . . well, we don’t know what it is yet.

This episode focuses on the growth of the high school relationship between Narumi and Mizuho, sparing little time for anything else. While this isn’t normally the sort of thing that captures my interest, I’ll give this series credit – the characterization was much more substantial and sophisticated than what we saw in Piece. Not to mention much more daring. At the same time, that greater depth seems mainly due to the familiarity (or, if you want to put it more harshly – unoriginality) of the characters.

To put it succinctly, Narumi seems to be a walking Id, and Mizuho is the classic girl-who-falls-for-the-wrong-guy (they actually say so explicitly in this episode). I hope that they will trend away from this familiar pattern when we get back to their post-funeral activities, but that’s the layout of their high school relationship.

This episode begins with a recap of the plea from Haruka’s mother for the identity of the man who made Haruka pregnant. I think we already have an idea who that might be, and I fervently hope that first instinct proves wrong.

After the credits, we jump back to Mizuho’s childhood, where she gets on the wrong bus and finds herself next to a man dressed in black who looks suspiciously like Narumi (possibly symbolizing the fact that she tends to have people like that around her?). The man in black mentions four kinds of people, ending with the type that stays on the wrong bus even after finding out that it’s the wrong one. Needless to say, this last category is intended to fit Mizuho, and it’s only partly about buses.

Next we turn to her high school days, and we stay there for the rest of the episode. Her friends ask about her summer activities, but she doesn’t dare mention her liaisons with Narumi, especially since he’s busy charming yet another girl.

He tries to make up for his philandering by striking a conversation with her in the classroom. When she rebuffs him, he mentions something she said that she thought he hadn’t heard, but he actually did. Just because this guy looks like he’s sleeping doesn’t mean he actually is – possibly an important note for the future.

There are rumors in the girls’ restroom about Megu-chi’s relationship – specifically her sexual relationship – with a prep school boy. It turns out that she didn’t really plan on going so far with him.

After Narumi ropes in a first-year . . .

. . . we see Narumi approach Mizuho at the bus stop. There, Mizuho repeats the line about four kinds of people, and Narumi immediately identifies her as the fourth type . . .

. . . and then leads her onto the wrong bus – the one to his place.

Once they arrive at the Narumi residence – devoid of other inhabitants – he gets to work quickly. Way too quickly.

Thankfully, she calls for a halt. He listens, but he isn’t happy about it.

He ends up moping on the couch – a very id-like reaction, I think – plus the messiness of his place looks like the result of childish lack of self-control, too.

They eat dinner together – the meal prepared for Narumi ahead of time by a housekeeper named Nanao-san.

Then it’s time for them to part company, and Narumi decides not to kiss Mizuho, to keep symmetry with her earlier rejection of his advances.

The next day, Mizuho arrives at class early, but panicked because she forgot some work she had to do. There, she sees Haruka, the girl destined to die three years later, trying to wipe off insults written on her desk in some permanent-looking ink.

In what was probably the most consequential moment of the episode outside of the Narumi-Mizuho relationship, Mizuho gives Haruka a handkerchief. Could this have been why Haruka considered Mizuho a friend?

After that, the episode simply continues with Narumi and Mizuho continuing their secret relationship – strictly limited to kissing and hugging.

But will Narumi really be able to control his impulses when he shows no interest in doing so otherwise, and has practically declared himself the wrong guy?

More importantly, has the Narumi of three years later really matured enough to deal with him again? Because considering how he picked a fight with that guy on the beach, he looks more unstable than ever.

There’s no question that this series is more engaging than Sprout, and that the characters are more fully fleshed-out. Unfortunately, they’re also the stereotypical pair we so often see in romantic stories. I’m hopeful that this is only the high school phase, and that they’ll prove to be more distinct in their later life. In any case, we also have some other characters who can help complicate matters, and there’s been no real hint about how those others will be deployed, yet.

Thanks to aozorasubs for the excellent subtitles.