“It’s Been Called Love and Affection”
The group split up to search for Neko, with Masamune and Aki closing in on the school where a scene from his shoujo manga plays out before them. As Neko lays in her hospital bed, she speaks to Aki and Masamune one at a time in private, telling them that they should be honest about their feelings for one another.
As I mentioned last week, the revelation with Neko delved into “sick girl” territory; an overused troupe relied on by far too many series. This episode furthered the archetype by focusing nearly entirely on Neko and a far too contrived situation to explain her involvement in the series. After vaguely describing her debilitating illness, that will require Neko to undergo a risky surgery overseas, it is revealed she just wanted an opportunity to be loved. After witnessing the hospital scene towards the end of the episode, where Neko reminisces on her youth, it is apparent she didn’t just randomly pluck Masamune from a stack of potential suitors (as she claimed). Apparently, our little dough boy made as much of an impact on youthful Neko as he did Aki.
Honestly, I’m conflicted as to how much Neko’s arc added to the overall narrative. Initially, she came off as conniving and enigmatic, a wrench thrown in to thwart Masamune’s revenge plan. By adding that she knew him previously and that she has some mystery illness just made the whole plot a bit too muddled for my preference. While the series absolutely needed something to make it more entertaining, expanding Yoshino’s role would’ve likely been just as effective.
In the end, Masamune and Aki are left conflicted after privately speaking to Neko. While not entirely certain what Neko explained to Aki, viewers are privy to her conversation with Masamune. It seemed that Neko was attempting to sway Masamune into forgetting this grudge he has with Aki and be honest with his feelings. He apparently interpreted her words completely differently, since he is all the more determined to enact revenge on Aki now. It irks me to literally watch the conversation unfold between Masamune and Neko, yet fail to understand why her words spurred him towards revenge, rather than forgiveness.
The episode ends with yet another cliffhanger, when someone appears in Aki’s garden resembling a chubby, older version of Masamunee’s childhood self. With a few episodes remaining in the season, I hope the writers choose to draw this mystery out to the end, rather than quickly explain who this person is at the beginning of the next episode. Regardless, the timing of this reveal seems to have served its purpose – to entice viewers to keep watching.
– Comedic moments are slowly being replaced by more serious content.
– Tired “sick girl” archetype didn’t really fit into the series.
– The motive behind what inspired Masamune to refocus on his revenge plot is entirely unclear.
Picking up from last week’s cliffhanger, Neko’s illness and her motivation behind her pursuit of Masamune are the driving elements behind this episode. When looked at on the surface, her involvement in this series seems like a side story. She gets under Aki’s skin as a rival and makes things complicated for Masamune, but these roles don’t add much above the standard romantic comedy flair. Her real contribution, however, comes from the lesson she leaves for the main cast about being fake and denying feelings.
Understanding her motivation has always been difficult, as she was depicted as being generally duplicitous in the things she said and did, seemingly trying to manipulate Masamune into getting what she wanted. Neko herself alluded to this when she remarked that Yoshino “couldn’t trace the thoughts of sickly person.” The end of the previous episode reveals that she created a persona to hide the reality of her illness, and this episode reveals exactly why. As she plans to leave the country to undergo uncertain treatment, wanting to experience love is an understandable desire.
She keeps the complete truth from Masamune until the end though, not revealing the fact that she remembered him from when they were young children. In this, he plays Aki’s role in her story, having no knowledge of who Neko was, or that her admiration for him was apparent even back then. With her last advice to him being that he should he honest about how he feels instead of trying to trick Aki, his decision to completely backslide into his original revenge plot is strange. As if determined not to fail like Neko did, he willfully forgets any notion of a real relationship with Aki
Aki, on the other hand, seems to take the advice Neko gave her a little more seriously. As she reflects on the idea of not holding back her feelings of love, viewers learn that she loved the younger, fatter version of Masamune. This, along with her confusion when Masamune brought up the “Pig’s Foot” nickname in front of the school, lends itself to the idea that Aki wasn’t the one to originally call him that. Time will tell if this is the case, but the latest drama looks like it will be in the form of the mysterious person Aki sees in her garden.
– Neko’s story is used to draw an interesting parallel
– With her part most likely over, the story can focus toward its intended conclusion.
– Another cliffhanger, thought this one might at least be going somewhere.
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party