Before we even get to the meat of this episode of Pin to Kona (ぴんとこな), the narrated recap intro at the start of it felt surprisingly long – it took a whole minute – and I think it stated too much explicitly. Since we only saw a hint of the shaking of Ichiya (Nakayama Yuma)’s confidence in the previous episode, it would have been better if they had shown us more signs of it instead of just saying it bluntly. Again, show, don’t tell.

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Following that recap, we get Ichiya randomly kissing Ayame (Kawashima Umika) out of nowhere, much to her own shock. It seems totally out of character for the meticulously controlled Ichiya, too, and even he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Could a single performance have shaken him this much? Did he really think that he’d get to the top of the kabuki world without facing any competition? I don’t know how to take this sudden breakdown in his personality.

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Ayame takes it badly, and I can’t blame her.

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Meanwhile, Shohei (Matsumura Hokuto) finally starts to make a move – I’ve been wondering when he’d start causing trouble for Ichiya, who he’s so jealous of. Ready to strike, he aims at Ichiya’s essential benefactor – Yuna (Yoshikura Aoi) – without whom Ichiya could not have gotten the roles he has, regardless of his talent. She doesn’t take the bait, though – this time.

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Back at home, Ichiya is left to brood over his misstep with Ayame.

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Yuna’s not going to give him any room to call Ayame to apologize, though. She wants some answers about why he didn’t meet her after the play.

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The next morning, Kyonosuke (Tamamori Yuta) approaches Ichiya to get clear up what’s between Ichiya and Yuna. He noticed that Ichiya left the play without Ayame, and I guess he figured out that Yuna might be a barrier even though Ichiya insists that there’s nothing between the two of them.

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In response, Ichiya challenges Kyonosuke to take Ayame away from him. I’m sure Kyonosuke would like to do just that . . .

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. . . but how exactly?

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After all, he’s certainly shown her every kindness and taken every advantage he could to win her favor, but none of it has budged her an inch from her loyalty to Ichiya. He consults Haruhiko (Jesse), who is busy contemplating a camp event at the beach. Haruhiko suggests that if Ayame is going to the event, that would be the perfect occasion to work some magic.

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Kyonosuke is resolved to make it happen.

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Ayame talks about the Ichiya kiss with one of her friends. The way Ichiya acted tips the friend off to the possibility that there’s another girl – something Ayame refuses to consider.

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Speaking with his patron (and Yuna’s father), Ichiya finds out that there was a scout – the manager of a theater – in the audience, and a chance he’ll be able to take another step up in the kabuki world. He still acts completely shaken, though, and it still seems so odd for him to be this way – like he never realized anyone could be better than him. Is it possible he was that unbearably arrogant, and that the arrogance could be broken so easily?

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Ichiya overhears the conversation between Yuna’s father and the theater manager, and the manager really hits the nail on the head. He notes that Ichiya doesn’t have enough facial expressions, and without them he doesn’t pull the audience in (and I’m always a big proponent of expressiveness in acting, so I was very satisfied with this explanation of what Ichiya is lacking).

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Kyonosuke makes his move, and it turns out Ayame is just in the middle of realizing how little she knows about Ichiya, having been out of his life for ten years. But instead of managing to take advantage of this, he’s honest when she asks for advice . . .

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. . . and when she walks away, saying that he’s a good person, the pain is evident on his face.

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But he said that the thing that would cheer him up, if he was Ichiya, would be to have his loved one smiling by his side. Is that something that would really make Ichiya feel at ease – especially with Yuna keeping a close eye on him?

Ayame calls Ichiya up and makes the date.

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Meanwhile, Kyonosuke looks like he’s preparing battle plans . . .

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. . . perhaps with some help from a more experienced friend – though the advice she gives sounds a bit dated (very Showa).

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He starts daydreaming about how it might turn out.

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At least Ichiya manages to make it for his date with Ayame this time. Out of all things, she’s got fireworks prepared. And when I say fireworks, I mean the tiny sparklers they seem fascinated with in Japan – not the heavy munitions we let off in the streets on July 4th in the U.S.

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I mean, this is just puny:

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Ayame tries her best to cheer him up, but Ichiya’s mind is filled only with the image of everyone focused on Kyonosuke and also the words of the theater manager. Seems like depression to me.

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And depression leads people to say and do things they’re regret to the ones they love – things that will in turn make them even more depressed in a vicious cycle. That’s certainly true of Ichiya here.

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But that was all sort of predictable from the way the episode started, and really set up Kyonosuke’s big attempt – you know, the beach party:

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But did Ayame decide to come to this frivolous escapade?

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Well, yes, but apparently even though she has the time for this (keeping in mind that they’re staying overnight), she doesn’t have the money for a swimsuit. There seems to be an incongruity there.

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Ichiya steps into the kabuki practice room, but then flees for some reason.

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Kanjiro (Yamamoto Koji) notices the move and heads out to have a word with him.

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Concluding that Ichiya has completely lost confidence in himself, he decides to give the forlorn fellow a “special spicy wonderful practice session.” Will it work? I sure hope it does, because I was sick of seeing Ichiya like this ten minutes ago, and it’s getting more and more irritating with ever scene.

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And how about Kyonosuke’s attempt to win Ayame’s heart? Will her growing rift with Ichiya finally give him the chance he needs?

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But seriously – the silly falling-over-each-other-ending-face-to-face thing is a total cliche.

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The watermelon eating scene was cute, though.

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What will the special practice be like?

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As for the answers to the questions, I’ll leave that for your enjoyment.

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Okay, first of all, there were way, way, way too many little flashbacks as Ichiya remembered all the things depressing him every five minutes in the first half. The other characters also had mental flashbacks in the same way, and the whole episode started with a minute-long recap. Look, the writers have to at some point trust that the audience remembers why the character is unhappy – especially since we’ve seen it throughout the episode.

Getting beyond that, the first half dragged painfully, and the decent ending didn’t quite make up for that. The show went into total romance mode – there was no kabuki this time.

There continued to be inconsistencies in Ayame’s character. For instance, she says she’s spent her birthdays alone, but considering she has friends and seems well-liked, I don’t understand why that should be. I’ve already described my irritation with Ichiya’s character for the first half, and I’ll leave it at that.

But the character of Kyonosuke really saved the day. His scenes were always fun, and the viewer ends up really feeling for him. I suppose that parallels the way the audience in the kabuki theater reacts towards him.

I have a sense that Hokuto-kun’s character – Shohei – will provide some devilish amusement in future episodes, and I look forward to that because we need some wild cards in this rather predictable situation before it turns into Sprout.

Oh, and we need more kabuki. Same reason.