After a first episode with the length of a movie, and enough content to fill that time without leaving audiences bored, Pin to Kona (ぴんとこな)’s second episode is bound to be a bit of a pullback – a reining-in of expectations, if you will. All I’m looking for this time is a story doesn’t completely revolve around the love triangle/square and some good kabuki highlights – whether it’s of their training or an actual performance.

We left Ichiya (Nakayama Yuma) in a rather happy state, as he was about to reunite with Ayame (Kawashima Umika) and they’d live happily ever after . . .

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. . . except that was the end of the first episode, not the last, and there are some obstacles. You know, like the fact that Ichiya owes his temporary boost to the kabuki world to Yuna (Yoshikura Aoi)’s father, and he has to stay loyal to Yuna or he might lose the chance to fulfill his dream. So, when Yuna’s father calls out to him, Ichiya has to turn away from Ayame, asking her to wait outside for him.

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Ayame waits and, sure enough, she bumps into the as-yet unmentioned lead character and final side to the love square, Kyonosuke (Tamamori Yuta). Kyonosuke is understandably bummed out, and even takes a compliment about his performance – that he was good too (in addition to Ichiya, in other words) – badly.

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Unfortunately for Ayame, Ichiya has to please his benefactor by meeting with an important guest. That VIP is quite blunt about how fortunate it is that Ichiya will marry Yuna and become Sawayama Sakugoro (Enoki Takaaki)’s successor. Meanwhile, Ayame is left waiting out in the rain.

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Still in romantic distress, Kyonosuke receives his new kabuki assignment from his father, who also drops a hint that he may be performing opposite Ichiya again. Kyonosuke resents the way his father refuses to praise him, and is too distracted to practice his new part since his mind is filled with visions of Ichiya and Ayame together.

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Of course, they’re not together, but Kyonosuke doesn’t know that – yet.

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In fact, Kyonosuke overhears Ayame talking to her friend about waiting in the rain for five hours the next day, and that sure puts the spring back in his step when he decides to talk to her again. But she already knows he was eavesdropping.

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She chastises him for listening in like that, but when she blames herself for waiting out in the rain like that, he wisely consoles her by saying that Ichiya probably didn’t mean to leave her like that and simply had to do the meet-and-greet. Just as he tries to further take the high ground, though, she faints.

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Kyonosuke carries her to her home, which preempts Ichiya’s attempt to apologize to her.

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Remember how one of the themes of the series was the division between classes? Well, presumably this is where Kyonosuke gets to see the way the other half lives, but while he says “eh?” when seeing her home, I have to say that it doesn’t look bad at all. It’s not a noble mansion like he has, but she’s not stuffed in a closet apartment, either.

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With Kyonosuke trying to cook for Ayame – possibly his first attempt in the kitchen ever . . .

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. . . Ichiya get to talk to Yuna’s father again, which is growing to be his least favorite thing to do. It’s almost like he can tell that any time he spends talking to Sawayama Sakugoro is time during which he’s lost ground in his potential relationship with Ayame.

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It’s even worse, because Sakugoro tells Ichiya that he will not be getting the role opposite Kyonosuke this time, and Shohei (Matsumura Hokuto) takes the opportunity to taunt Ichiya. It looks like those jabs are going to be Hokuto-kun’s only part in this drama.

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Having gone so far as to fill-in for Ayame at work, Kyonosuke feels like he’s really scored points with her. Okay, but can we get on to the kabuki side of things now? I’ve had my fill of the love square for this episode.

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Kyonosuke’s father (Kishitani Goro) gets some negative critique of his son’s uneven acting that seems to shake him. The hierarchy of the kabuki world is unclear to me, but the man he was speaking to was definitely giving advice as a superior.

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While Kyonosuke’s cooking is improving thanks to actually following a recipe, his attentiveness to Ayame and the time he spends in place of her at her work surely means that he’s not getting the practice he needs.

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Yuna gets more suspicious about Ichiya’s loyalty to her . . .

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. . . just as he’s out seeing Ayame to apologize to her and to convince her that he’ll always be hers. Well, we’re pretty sure he means it, but he should come clean about the Yuna side of things. Of course, if he did, the series might be one or two episodes shorter . . . .

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At least Kyonosuke is always sure to be listening in and not missing anything:

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Kyonosuke’s father is not happy and they have one of their tense exchanges.

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At this point, though, Kyonosuke’s broken heart looks like it will really hurt his ability to perform, which will in turn do damage to his relationship with his father.

I think I’m really going to get to hate Yuna. Sensing that Ichiya is drifting away from her, she offers to talk to her father about letting him play the part he had been denied. There’s no mistaking it – she’s basically willing to buy his love if necessary.

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It continues . . .

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. . . and finally, we get to kabuki practice. Now that Kyonosuke is back to being heartbroken, can he perform?

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Will the fact that he now has to do play the part opposite Ichiya because the latter gave in to Yuna make it impossibly hard for him?

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Will they, in fact, make a scene that wasn’t in the script?

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And how will Kyonosuke’s father take all of this?

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We didn’t get a full-makeup performance at the end of this one, so that’s a minus, but I think we’ll get it in the next episode so it’s not a total loss.

There were two highlights to the episode – when Kyonosuke first talks to Ayame at school and the confrontation between Kyonosuke and Ichiya during practice.

The problem with this episode was that the pace was slow, and except for the two strong moments, it felt like we were going around in circles. The scenes themselves were executed well – the acting was fine though not spectacular – but the sense that we weren’t getting anywhere was occasionally frustrating. At the end of episode one, both Ichiya and Kyonosuke were going after Ayame and Ichiya ended up a bit ahead. The first half of this episode largely reinforced that state of affairs.

It ended well, though, and the second half was better than the first. Kyonosuke’s character saw some development – heck, he even learned to cook (somewhat). There’s also a subtle change when it comes to our impression of Kyonosuke’s father and Kanjiro (Yamamoto Koji).

I think I’ll have to call this good enough, since they got so much done in the first episode and at least the acting was solid. I hope we get something different in the next episode, though (read: more kabuki).