Alright, back off, it’s official we have adults.
Yes, real live breathing parents! They exist!
Of all the things I expected this episode, that was not one of them.
The first episode is quite simple. And, I am forced to admit, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, not really.
Except for the live-action Head Haruka where her father gets super protective of the prospect of Haruka wedding some punk, which she totally interprets as him being okay with her marrying a girl. Keep on trekking, mein Pope.
Why the talk about weddings? Well Haruka’s…I think it’s her cousin but it remains a little undefined, is getting married. And since Haruka’s father can’t make it, her mother lets her bring a friend. Naturally, she picks Yuu.
Cue lingual misunderstanding of the week. Yuu seems to interpret it as Haruka wanting to get married, and cue the shenanigans.
I have a confession, I am not a big fan of “misunderstanding humor”. Which is a problem because it is even more prevalent in Japanese comedy than Western. There is just NOTHING funny to me about a Three’s-Company moment, and I avoid all such humor because I find it absolutely unbearable, if not downright uncomfortable. An oddity in my personality I guess, considering the jackassery that passes for humor on this blog.
Fortunately for me they jettison the misunderstanding about 2/3 through so they don’t lean on it COMPLETELY. And Sakura Trick’s never had a problem with using any individual item as a crutch, so it wasn’t horrible. It was just weaker to me on the whole.
But the one thing to note here is that though Yuu has been something of “the reluctant” at first, she is completely on board marriage (misinformed as her willingness is). What an adorable cap on her journey, I think. Well okay it’s not a cap, there is one more step she could take…but being on board with marriage is a pretty significant thing.
I have a confession, I have only ever been to one wedding. Yes even this late in my life (I’ll be 28 this month). I have a rather small family that funnels downward. We’re more of a family shrub than a family tree, with myself and siblings at the bottom, so I didn’t have cousins or youthful aunts and uncles hitching up. So even the prep stuff of renting the dresses, and sillyness at the wedding…I can’t relate. There was little for me to latch onto here.
Ah, but part 2…
Speaking of being completely willing to go along on misunderstandings, Haruka invites Mitsuki “on a date”…and she totally agrees. Yeah, I can tell you don’t approve of homosexuality at all, lady. Well Mitsuki can’t pass this up, even if she is getting an early lead on homework during winter break.
Ah, christmas eve. In Japan it’s become a holiday celebrating love. Unlike the West, which with its Christian roots, decides to focus far more on…on last minute shopping, damnit, because it’s a secular holiday!
Mitsuki interprets Haruka calling her instead of Yuu (as all previous engagements have been the other way around) as a sign that the pair are fighting. And she decides to start lecturing her imouto on things.
Mitsuki’s brain is all over the place. She wants Yuu and Haruka to make up, but she is totally keeping score on her OWN relationship with Haruka…and beating herself in the head to get her wandering thoughts into line. Not even Yuzu knows how to deal with it, as to her, Mitsuki’s always been concerned Haruka and Yuu were TOO close.
One of my favorite gags was Kaede’s comment (on the holiday display) that “there are all kinds of love” and a saxophone starts playing, which as you know is one step below porno synthesizer.
But unlike our last misunderstanding…this time there seems to be something to it. Mitsuki has been our pure viewpoint character, unlike last time where we knew right away that Yuu was being silly. Because even when alone, Yuu and Haruka seem very…distant from each other.
So, I’m going to spoil, what’s going on is both of them are feeling…romance.
Like I said, steps.
So far, Haruka and Yuu have been dancing in between straight up adult romance and juvenile intimacy. They’re both important, don’t misunderstand.
Perhaps a more relatable analogy: In the West we often divide people into “fuck buddy material/dating material/marriage material”, that scale? Kind of the same thing has been going on for our two heroes it seems. While they’re still and have been important, the whole wedding seems to have drawn their relationship into focus. Perhaps one could even go so far as to say they are entering the adult world, and the shock has left them both a little unsure of where to go.
So they aren’t as intimate and close as they used to be, even when the others are all gone and prying eyes are away. They’re finding it difficult to be comfortable in their juvenile setting. Of sneaking kisses, of holding hands secretly, of slinking away to make out behind the curtains…both of them, Haruka and Yuu, want a serious relationship with the other.
That having been said…it feels odd to play this card NOW. The previous events did not seem to support the pair of them taking a dramatic shift in tone like this. Unless the idea of marriage is THAT powerful on the pair…which I might buy for Haruka, but Yuu it seems a little forced.
Despite the transgression, I found the slow progression of them baring their souls to the other to be wonderful. Mitsuki’s advice rings in Yuu’s ears, and while it may have been given under the wrong pretense, it still applies just as much, and she opens up for the first time, trying to lead Haruka somewhere private. But Haruka recoils.
And the music box starts (the one from when Kotone and Shizuku were on the roof), and the rejected look in Yuu’s eyes…I didn’t actually believe that Yuu could tug my heart strings, but she did. So good on you, Sakura Trick, for even letting the annoying one sneak up on me.
One thing I love about the direction here is how the very claustrophobic crowd around the pair just vanishes, a nice image of the two completely shutting out the world around them as they talk about their feelings. And, though they may not be drawn, in full view of the crowds, the pair share a kiss.
This episode was weaker on the whole to me, but it went out swinging and leaving an impression. My real complaint is the timing of the drama, not the actual execution. It is too soon to believe that the status quo of hiding the relationship between Yuu and Haruka is going to go away, that’s more of a finale thing. And the spark seems odd and misplaced, like we should have seen this weeks ago. But I suppose we ARE coming off two rather heavy Shizuku/Kotone weeks. I dunno, it just felt off to me. Especially as they aren’t going to really change the dynamic too much.
But if there’s anything we can say about Sakura Trick it’s that they don’t play by the rules. Who knows?