What else do you do for a Valentine’s Day episode? Well it wasn’t thematic or anything. At least not in-universe. But structurally, Sakura Trick celebrated the day of love by paying attention to all three of the relationships on display. Yep. Three. Even Yuzu and Kaede, as only-friends and straight-men as they are, got some development this week. It was quite lovely all around, I must say.
The girls are still working on their play, sewing costumes and making a few set pieces for mood. Kotone and Yuzu scheme to have the party spend the night at the school. Yuzu asks the teacher…who tells them to fill out the forms in a voice that is the essence of not-giving-a-fuck. Everyone seems on board for the plan, though Yuu and especially Shizuku seem more reluctant.
Some reminiscing about middle school, and the girls realize that Shizuku went to her own middle school by herself (at least among the class). We get some backstory about how she and Kotone got along growing up, being cousins and all. Kotone says they were just swell friends, but Shizuku remembers it as Kotone constantly enjoying seeing her cry.
…Mental note, add a check mark under the column of things I share with Kotone.
Kotone, in a fit of flirting, hits Shizuku for embarrassing her. Oh yes, definitely a dominant sadist.
Well, Head Haruka takes over…and we have the cutest scene. It’s like Haruka is high and thinks she’s giving a stirring ultimatum that will change the world, but everyone else is hearing her go “Nyahhhh-aaahhh-hnnnnn” the whole time.
Although in this case, head Haruka seems to be getting more serious, as she is the one who cooks, and goes to work. Just adorable.
Well the class needs to set up their haunted house…yes, Valentine’s Haunted House. Roll with it. So they’ll have to sleep in the spare classroom. Yup, THAT spare classroom where our adventures began.
A few hours later and the girls are taking a break. Yuzu and Kaede go to check out the haunted house (where else would Kaede go, honestly?) and Kotone and Shizuku head to the roof, leaving Haruka and Yuu all alone in the spare classroom.
I’m sure they’ll all be sewing the entire time.
Yuu and Haruka trade some cute lines. But the real treat of Part 1 is Kotone and Shizuku. This part blew the rest out of the water. Kotone observes Shizuku is pushing herself quite hard, which we’ve seen several times today (she took the lead not only on cleaning the sleeping space but acquiring the blankets). This is one time where Kotone’s voice slips out of her drunken monkey tone and, while still -attempting- to be care free, it feels much more obvious she is “faking” being lackadaisical about things. She notes that she expected Shizuku to hate the cultural festival.
Shizuku admits she was always afraid of spending time with other people. She’s just a very shy person, at her core, despite her cold, terrifying persona.
But we know the real reason already. It is because Shizuku wanted to be near Kotone, to share her life with her. But what really elevates this part is Shizuku’s body language. Normally, and you might argue in real life, you’d expect a shy girl to avert her eyes, look away, quickly blurt out her feelings and be done before deflecting.
That all happens. But it is the -way- it happens that makes this unique. Shizuku cuddles right up close, but keeps her head low, burying it into Kotone’s back. It is a lovely visual representation of the combination of embarrassment and soul-baring she’s doing. And the deflection comes, but it is a question about Kotone. Shizuku wants to know why she “tries” to have fun all the time.
Kotone gives the expected response about living each day to the fullest. And explains she always has fun when she’s with the girl she loves. And, she adds, she’s having fun right now.
I have to give props to the soundtrack here. It’s a light, lovely little music box melody. This was all stuff we could infer about the pair earlier, but after having gone through a three episode dry spell, really, it’s nice to see them interacting again. And I’m just a sucker for night shots, the whole sequence was just gorgeous from the artistic standpoint.
My favorite part is as Kotone tries to be romantic, Shizuku starts by trying to match her blow for blow, but Kotone is, as I suspect, a highly intelligent person, so she comes up with some off the cuff poetic seduction…and Shizuku’s response is just to call her an idiot. Not maliciously, it’s quiet and basically her crying “uncle”. I think that might be my favorite line this episode.
On the whole, this pair is definitely my favorite. As much as I like Haruka and Yuu…this one feels more genuine to me. Or perhaps, more sophisticated, is the word I’m looking for. Haruka and Yuu feel like a high school romance, they care for each other but I can’t shake the feelings it is a bit on the superficial side. Kotone and Shizuku feel much more like a lasting couple that will endure for some time.
Speaking of our bubbly pair, Yuu is trying to bait Haruka into a kiss. Well, this is Haruka, so you don’t need a very sophisticated girl trap to lure her in, right?
Part 2 starts with the performance of Snow White. And, naturally, Yuu and Shizuku haven’t settled their squabble, so they’re both playing the witch. I like that. Just, do not give a fuck. No drama to wring out of that, just get it out of the way as quickly as possible.
Huh, you know I didn’t know Trigger was a contributing studio to this story.
Okay in honesty, I’m quite glad that while Sakura Trick remains very slice of life, it is avoiding slice of life cliche plots. I am ever grateful for that.
Mitsuki’s getting better at hiding her blushes, too. She asks Yuu if she’d like to go to the stalls, which Yuu had promised Haruka, but goes anyway, leaving Haruka feeling quite dejected. Yuzu tells her to pay attention to her other friends while Yuu and Mitsuki share their only cultural festival together.
And, continuing the theme of Yuri slaps, Haruka says she couldn’t possibly have room in her heart for more than one person at a time.
…-50 points Gryffindor. Bad form, Pope Haruka, dismissing polyamory like that. That is one lesbian stereotype you need to adopt if you expect to hold your title against Archbishop Kotone.
Yuzu yells that not everything is a lesbian confession.
When Kaede is called away on class rep work. It seems she IS the class rep and it’s been keeping her pretty busy.
So, there seems to be a running theme of telepathy in this half, because each of the three, Kaede, Yuzu, and Haruka, is privy to the activities, and even thoughts, that go on in their absence. I’m sure there is a theme I’m missing here, but it’s still very cute.
Yuzu challenges Haruka to tell her something about Yuu she doesn’t know. It’s not working out so well. But enter Kaede, like a shade, who says that even though Yuu blabs her mouth to everyone about every little thing, Yuzu still doesn’t know why Kaede is class rep. So Yuzu accepts this challenge and deems to figure it out before the day is done.
After some wandering about the festival, Yuzu gives up. Kaede shares about a time Yuzu, as class rep, fell down the stairs carrying a stack of books. So, as Kaede says (two words: unreliable narrator!), she chose to prevent it from ever happening again by shouldering the burden by herself.
Well the three return and after some bickering about Yuu forgetting her plans, seems it was her plan to hang out with Mitsuki first, then Haruka, buuuuuut….Yuu forgot.
…I don’t mean to give Yuu a hard time, really, I don’t. But she really is coming off as the one “milking” this little relationship.
But at least she is all apologies…though I’m not exactly thrilled the way she works into Haruka’s good graces again is by trying to sell one of her hairpins off as a family heirloom and giving it to her. Still Haruka looks so darn cute in it…I can’t stay mad at’chu.
And of course, Yuu says to make it up to Haruka, she’ll let her do anything in the rafters of the auditorium.
Well, we all know damn well where this would be if it wasn’t on school property, that’s for sure!
At least the song is upbeat and helps cap this as a happy ending.
Okay, so for as much crap as I give Yuu, she does make efforts to make up for her personality flaws, and it’s important she recognizes them AS flaws and doesn’t expect Haruka to compensate for them ALL the time.
Other than that, there isn’t too much to say this week. This was less about external forces as it was about the girls playing off each other, and those are nice to have from time to time.
So, the coming episode has as one of its titles “Swimsuit Fanservice: Accidents Included”, which I fully expect to be fourth wall breaking as fuck. Bring it on!