After Mirei (Ishibashi Anna) confessed her love for Haruka (Abe Aran) by kissing him at the end ofthe previous episode of Kinkyori Renai (近キョリ恋愛), I’m looking for some follow-through on the relationship in this episode. Will Haruka reject the sentiment, afraid of the implications like Mirei was before Kanata (Kishi Yuta) talked to her? Or will the writers spare us that sort of awkwardness and instead bring us more unexpected sources of conflict?

For now, Haruka is in a pensive mood . . .

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. . . and Kanata is horrified that Mirei actually followed his advice. He wanted them to come up with a plan together, but didn’t really communicate that. All this talk from Kanata has Mirei worried. We still don’t know how Haruka actually reacted immediately after the kiss.

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We find that out when Mirei tells Kanata. Turns out that Mirei saw Haruka looking troubled after the kiss, and she turned “suki” into “sukiyaki”. Right. As if that’s going to convince anyone.

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Mirei dashes away as Haruka approaches, too afraid to face him. Looks like Kanata is totally caught in the middle of this. Well, he gave her the advice and should deal with the consequences and have a word with Haruka. Unfortunately, he instead decides to remain silent and allows Haruka to walk ahead.

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I had to laugh at seeing Mirei brooding over the fact that “sukiyaki” wasn’t a good save. I mean, after kissing him, was there anything that she could have said to erase the feelings that conveyed?

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And it seemed like this scene was designed to be a humorous one, because in came the basketball team members inviting some girls to the basketball game. Kajiwara (Takahashi Fuu) specifically asks Mirei to invite Ririko (Adachi Rika) – Haruka’s sister – and she gets incensed by that, pushing them aside.

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Finally, Kirei and Haruka come face to face, and Kanata is literally in the middle. Symbolism?

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They do not say anything to each other, so we’re going to get some awkwardness here.

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Yup:

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Mirei tells Kanata that the other basketball team members want to invite Ririko – she doesn’t want to talk to Haruka directly about it. For some reason, though, Kanata also doesn’t want to talk to Haruka – has been avoiding it ever since they saw each other in the morning – so he decides to contact Ririko directly.

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We see her doing some artwork, which is good because I was wondering if she managed to do anything productive with her day at all. She accepts the invitation, but wonders why Kanata is the one to contact her.

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Meanwhile, Mirei is now hiding from the entire basketball team. At this rate, she’ll be avoiding the whole school by the end of the week . . .

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. . . and perhaps that’s why Haruka tries to approach her (aside from the fact that right now he has precisely no one to talk to).

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She runs off, though . . .

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. . . and Haruka gets the (bad?) news that Ririko will be attending the basketball game.

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Mirei’s thoughts in her unsent message this time were as confused as her actions.

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In the middle of all this, the last thing I need from this episode right now is the Ririko-Tachibana thing. Is it safe to skip these parts? I mean, we know she should break up with the guy and perhaps go back to America (or whatever other planet she’s from), and it’s just painful to watch every scene involving Tachibana (Nagayama Takashi).

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It gets worse this time, as the Other Girl (Sakai Marie played by Kuji Akiko) sees Ririko and Tachibana together. Oh, great – a love triangle I totally don’t care about.

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Weird that there’s a love triangle involving minor characters when we don’t even have a proper triangle among the main characters.

Speaking of which, Ririko seems to be playing mother to Haruka now. She got the news about “sukiyaki” from Kanata, gives Haruka a lecture about considering the feelings of Mirei, and says she’ll be having a talk with Mirei on the way to the game.

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She tries her best, but of course, it’s not so easy.

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Gotta figure that he’s not in the best frame of mind for the game.

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Sukiyaki is a great codeword for this relationship – very classic.

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So, how is it that Ririko cam be so wise about dispensing advice here and so hopeless in her own love life? After all, there isn’t an advice columnist in the world who wouldn’t tell her to dump Tachibana.

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I think how Mirei takes this conversation is an outright spoiler, as is whether (and to what extent) she manages to patch her relationship up with Haruka. Will they at least be able to talk to each other by the end of this?

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Will Ririko, despite her best intentions, be a distracting presence?

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Will the basketball team enjoy the treat Ririko prepared for them?

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Will we get another Tachibana scene? Actually, I’ll answer this one – yes:

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Ugh. Unnecessary secondary romantic entanglement is unnecessary.

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Aside from the Tachibana thing, everything went very well right up to the last scene. Without saying too much about the last scene, I think I will excuse Ririko’s words in it because she was extremely distraught and she has a habit of clinging to Haruka when she gets in that state. Other than that, Ririko’s behavior during the episode was practically normal (allowing for a wide range of normality). I point that out first because Ririko has been the consistent soft spot in this whole series.

The fallout from the kiss was handled reasonably well, with some amusing points (sukiyaki and Mirei hiding). I can see that the writers want to develop this gradually, and the pacing this time wasn’t bad, but it seems like the most dynamic conflict in this series will have Tachibana at the center rather than any of the main characters, and that seems rather strange. Sure, the romance between Haruka and Mirei is the one we care about, but there’s a lot of effort being put into minimizing the conflict there, while the tension in Ririko-Tachibana-Marie is being maximized. A very strange plot design, this.

Anyway, I was content with the episode, and I hope Haruka is less sheepish in the next one.