This week the Kaoru arc reaches its conclusion, to mixed results. Kaoru was certainly a fun female protagonist for this arc, but it somehow didn’t come together with the style and pacing of the more unconventional Haruka arc. Much of it was very sweet, and true to the characters, but somehow it didn’t seem to fully realize its potential. Things start off with Junichi having his date planned for him, going into the date itself and then the night after, with a little sidestory thrown in involving Ume and Keiko. Not bad, the episode didn’t do anything wrong per se, but unfortunately it didn’t come together as well as it could by the end.
(NOTE: Yes, I did completely forget the new formatting experiment in the part II post. Oops. But I will be returning to it now, and trying to figure out a new one to try out by the time the next arc starts next week.)
Recap: Things start out with Junichi in class, his mind wandering off as his friend describes his perfect date plan. He’s still thinking about Kaoru, meanwhile Ume seems to have started going out with Keiko even if she’s being sort of tsun tsun about it in front of others. Ah, I love a good beta couple. Ume manages to get Junichi out of the room for a few minutes by faking a paper cut when Kaoru gives the signal from the hallway, sending Junichi to the infirmary. Which may have been a double plot on the beta couple’s part because it sends Junichi there while Kaoru is wearing her waitress uniform, her school uniform being repaired by Keiko’s quick stitching. Perhaps a plan within a plan here as well, as Keiko was the one that pointed out to Kaoru that her skirt seam was coming apart. Devious and cute, I like this new couple already! Once in the infirmary to get a band aid for Ume, Junichi can’t resist another peek at Kaoru in her waitress uniform, but then snaps back to attention and starts falling all over himself trying to ask her out, only to have Kaoru tease him that she’s busy on Christmas. Just that it’s with their date since she figured Junichi wouldn’t take the initiative himself.
Both of them get a bit jittery before their date, Junichi worrying about the costs after Miya starts talking about them, Kaoru having a tough time deciding on clothing and whether to wear her ‘special’ underwear. Planning something, are we? They meet up at a seaside park in front of the Port Tower that Junichi mark I, Kaoru, and Ume were discussing back in the Haruka arc. After walking for a bit, Kaoru drags Junichi up there despite his fear of heights. Using a glass floor section as a way both to tease Junichi and demonstrate their feelings for each other, Kaoru had Junichi stand on it and then goes into how her feelings developed for him. Knowing each other for so long, they know all the good and bad parts about each other, and can depend on each other when needed. Or in Kaoru’s words “I know 100 bad things about you, but I know 101 good things about you.” It was a sweet moment, describing how their relationship evolved over time and displaying the depth of it. There was a lot that didn’t even need to be said between them, and here the episode was at its strongest. Afterwards Kaoru misses the last bus home, so Junichi invites her over since his parents are out of town. They have some fun sneaking in and hiding Kaoru from Miya, and after Kaoru teasing Junichi a bit more she decides that they’ll sleep in the same bed. And even then she gets in some more teasing, falling asleep during a kiss in the last attempt. There’s a brief denouement moment at the very end, though not as far into the future as in the Haurka arc, showing Junichi and Kaoru walking on the beach and talking about all the good times to come.
Way to be a jerk Junichi! Ume should have answered “Miya” or “your mom.”
Secondary OTP. OTP! OTP! Kyaaaaa!
Junichi mark II would do Miroku proud with all his lecherous peeks.
Despite not acting like a puppy, Junichi mark II certainly takes the initiative far less.
“Yes, why don’t you just stay home with me, Nii-nii.”
Takahashi-sensei AND Tsukasa? FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-
Yeah, memories of True Tears…sad memories…NOOOEEEEEEEEEE!!! *breaks down in tears*.
Congratulations, you’re now the designated fanservice girl!
Oh what would she do without Hibiki?
I doubt the wisdom of this addition in a country with so many earthquakes.
A window scene against a backdrop of falling snow. Somewhat similar to the big kiss scene in the first arc, but with a different feel. The lines of the window panes here draw the focus to the characters in the center, and it has a simpler, warmer feel to it with the brighter internal lights and blue ocean background. While the Haruka one in comparison had a more mysterious and almost isolating feeling with the green city lights in the background and empty plate-glass window as the backdrop. Definitely seemed to suit the feel of each arc.
Finding out later that he did in fact have another girl over is going to be what snaps her into yandere mood. Oh the betrayal, Miya!
So the planetarium closest is something that Junichi constructed in each arc. I guess he just stopped needing it sooner in this one.
Kaoru is just perfect in knowing how to tease Junichi, and more importantly, has an excellent sense of timing in doing so.
And once again. Behold the master!
Hmm, not sure what you’re thinking wearing that track suit around when obviously you’re not exercising, as evidenced by Kaoru’s clothes. Unfortunately this wasn’t the equal of the Haruka arc afterstory, it almost felt like the final still shot and voice over at the end of a video game.
Thoughts: As much as I liked Kaoru as the focus of this arc, and wanted to like the arc as a whole, it unfortunately didn’t go as well as the first one. The writers were on their game for the first one, and you could tell. The pacing was great, it accomplished what it needed to and then moved on, and it had great interplay between too odd characters. This time it felt like the bellybutton kiss was out of nowhere, making it seem tacked on like they had to meet a quota. And episode three and most of episode four of this arc spent precious time on things like the issue with Kaoru’s mom and the infirmary set up without drawing maximum utility from them. Neither was a waste, but when you’ve only got four episodes to tell the story you need to be efficient with your time and character development. The Haruka arc was a great example of keeping up the pace while still bringing in the content. The Kaoru arc did develop its characters, but it took too long in getting there and didn’t have a lot of time left to expound upon their realizations.
Some of this might be attributable to the slower, more subtle pace of the best-friends-turned-lovers relationship in this arc, but that doesn’t account for everything. I’m not slamming this arc or saying it was bad, just that it had unrealized potential. The moments of interaction between Kaoru and Junichi needed to be deeper and more meaningful, more like their scene in the Port Tower and less like the one where they helped the two little kids get their badminton shuttlecock out of the tree. The time spent on Junichi tracking down Kaoru when she was upset over her mother dating again could have been cut down a little too. Perhaps Junichi could have visited Kaoru’s at some point to help out with something (maybe homework, maybe buying or making a gift to apologize for making Kaoru’s mom worry when she ran off), casually like he might have done over their years of friendship. Some situation where they can really demonstrate how they can depend on each other instead of just talking about how they can. But there needed to be something more to make the arc come together. I would have also liked a more thorough afterstory like the one in the Haruka arc. It may not be realistic for two people who got together in high school to get married, but damn if it wasn’t cute to see Junichi mark I and Haruka years later.
Well next week begins the Sae arc, which is unfortunately for me my least anticipated arc. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage to get through four episodes of her voice. For one there’s the pitch, and secondly she lets out so much air in a whisper undercurrent to her voice that she could probably inflate a car tire in seconds. And I’ve never liked that shy, scared moe archetype either. However, I will go into the next episode with an open mind. I would like very much to have my concerns proven to be unfounded.