A Hinata-centric epi? Given how much air-time that puppyish glutton has already had, this was either going to be Instant Fail, or it was going to provide a proper insight into his character that would perhaps (finally) resolve the much discussed love-triangle. Thankfully, it worked, and not least of all because it left the episode on a rather interesting note indeed…
Hinata dreams of the time when loli Misaki gave him a sweet as she saw him off at the train station before he went away to live with his grandparents. Later at school, Hinata, after once more being caught eating in class by the Prez in demon mode, the other boys ask him what he sees in their scary Prez. Hinata, naturally, has no idea what they’re on about and promptly goes googly-eyed as he tells them how wonderful she is. Hinata later recalls a time in middle school when his male classmates are teasing him about his devotion to the Misaki-chan he has left behind but is determined to find again, saying that she can’t be/ won’t stay as sweet and pure and he thinks she is. Instead of listening to their pervy ideas, Hinata would rather climb trees and sit staring at a keepsake book, in which he appears to have kept the wrapper from the last sweet that Misaki gave him… Eventually, Hinata ‘wakes up’ from his daydreaming/ reminiscing, which seems to have reinforced his desire to keep trying to win Misaki’s heart…
The next day, Maid Latte is having a fortune telling event, fronted by a very enthusiastic Erika in her full, fortune-telling glory. Soon, the three bakas, Hinata and Usui all want their fortunes told, specifically regarding whether or not they are going to be with Misaki in the future. The three bakas pretty much don’t have a hope in hell (and thus sulk); Hinata has an inflated balloon’s chance (and thus remains optimistic about the re-inflatableness of such a balloon); and Usui is told pretty-much-no-unless-you-two-overcome-some-humungous-obstacle (and thus looks pretty bummed). Later that night, as Misaki is leaving work, Usui waits to walk her home/ complain about how apparently incompatible they are. Misaki soon snaps back at him, implying that he shouldn’t ‘leave her’ because of such a silly prediction. Both are surprised/ red-cheeked about the outburst, while Hinata is shown to be looking jealously on…
In school the next day, Hinata sees Misaki cleaning a muddy mess left behind by the sloppy sports club boys and offers to help her. Hinata style. Which means grabbing an unsecurely tied hosepipe and making everything even messier and wetter, not least of all himself and Misaki. Usui then pops up and threatens to strip completely naked if Misaki doesn’t wear his shirt over her own wet clothing while she goes to get changed. He accompanies her and the two noisily head off, before Usui realises that Hinata is about to explode in frustration over how close the two of them really are and thus Usui gives a challenging look back at him. And, naturally, barks at him, before leaving with a bemused Misaki. In response, naturally, Hinata barks back. The final scenes of the epi are set amidst Yumesaki High School’s cultural festival, which Sakura – and her undying devotion to that Indie band whose members also go to that school but whose name I forget – has managed to drag Shizuko, Misaki and an extremely puppy-dog-eyed Usui into attending with her. That is, before they are split up via a tide of fangirls just before the band’s gig, leaving Sakura and Shizuko at the front of the concert crowd, and Misaki and Usui at the back. Misaki is suitable put-out, until Usui pats her on the head and suggests that they go and enjoy the festival together.
As implied above, I admit that my heart originally sank when I realised who was going to be the focus of this epi. However, I thought that the deeper insight into Hinata and his motivations was quite moving and, by the end of the epi, provided a fitting resolution to this arc. Which, if nothing else, also gave us some very impressive growly raised hackles and puppy-dog-eyed moments, before the final sort-of-conclusion.
Hinata’s memories of Misaki, and how these memories appear to have shaped him, were interesting to see because I felt that they gave him more depth as a character, as opposed to the harmless comic bit-parter that he has hitherto been. His steadfast devotion to Misaki became more moving to witness, given that it’s basically an unrequited love, and thus I found myself feeling more sympathetic towards the guy than I thought I would. I particularly liked the use of lighting and the sunrise/ sunset imagery during those ‘reminiscing’ shots, which had a more gentle, as well as gently humorous, pace and tone that reflected Hinata’s naïve/ stubborn/ hopeful/ kind personality well.
Thus, in spite of the tears and the tantrums and that weird barking (well, I guess someone weirder started that last one), I thought Hinata’s determination in the face of Usui’s more and more obviously stronger hold on Misaki’s consciousness/ heart was quite mature, or at least pretty admirable of him. I guess there’s something to be said about eternal optimism in the face of such formidable predictions and rivals, eh.
The whole fortune telling thing was pretty predictable, I guess, but certainly fun (Go, Erika!). Okay, maybe not so much fun for Hinata and certainly not for the three bakas, but Usui’s pouty reaction was obviously just as enjoyable as the other reactions to the ‘predictions’ put together. On a more serious note, it also raises the question of Usui’s past (Misaki’s past, if not her heart, being pretty much an open book, in comparison) and why the two may not be able to be together.
Finally, we get to see the beginnings of another, rather impressive, school cultural festival, due to Sakura’s (it turns out) continued stalking of that loser lead singer of that Indie band whose members all go to said high school. Who, of course, might not be such a loser after all, due to a recent hospitalization which has apparently made him become less of a loser. Anyway, no one apart from Sakura actually cares about him, so let’s assume and hope that this whole other cultural festival thingy is going to provide the perfect backdrop for the suddenly-alone-together Misaki and Usui to have a sort-of-first-date and thus their most kyaarific moments yet in the following series finale – which, judging by its title, as opposed to the last few titles, should be focussed on our two favourite leads.