I couldn’t use any of the other screencaps I took for this spot because they were spoiler-y

Summary:

Continuing on from last episode, Sakuta has taken in the white kitten for Shoko. It has been two weeks now and Shoko continues to drop by Sakuta’s house to visit the kitten. In the meantime, Sakuta’s and Mai’s relationship has become a little strained, as Mai must work often and they don’t have much time to be together.

Rio looks like a totally different person with her hair tied up, and without her glasses.

One day, Mai surprises Sakuta by showing up at the restaurant he works at. After Sakuta’s shift and on the way to Sakuta’s house, they both spy Rio going into a net cafe. Sakuta gets in contact with Rio (via Mai’s mobile phone) but soon comes face to face with Rio… who is not talking into a phone at all. Having finally been caught, Rio explains to Sakuta and Mai that there appears to be “another her” that has been going to school and living at her house. Rio is distressed at the presence of this doppelganger, and has not been able to go back home because of it. Sakuta invites Rio to stay at his apartment until this problem is solved, and Mai decides to room with Sakuta for a while too.

This screencap makes it more obvious that the character designs in this series are much more mundane than in other shows. No one has had like… bright pink or blue hair colors. 

This scene was much higher quality than the rest of the episode… for pretty obvious reasons.

The next day, Sakuta confronts the “other” Rio; who has tied up her hair, ditched her glasses, and appears to be a little bit more fashionable. After talking to this “other” Rio, Sakuta realizes that… she’s exactly like the Rio he knows. As Sakuta muses about what this all means exactly, Saki (Yuuma’s girlfriend) shows up to show Sakuta all the risque photos that Rio has apparently been taking and putting up on social media.

My Opinion:

I love that this series can surprise me with nearly every episode. I was expecting Shoko’s arc to be tackled this week, but we surprisingly jump into Rio’s arc instead. I was wondering how exactly her adolescent syndrome would manifest, and it appears to split her into two: one side that is more reserved (and more like what we’re used to), and another side that is probably created from her repressed feelings towards Yuuma.

I think I’ve stated this in nearly every review of this anime, but I think Mai is probably one of the best written female characters I’ve seen in a long time. The series could have easily made her the cliched jealous girlfriend character, but she is refreshingly mature. When Sakuta worries about whether Mai dislikes Shoko visiting his house daily, Mai replies with a “no way I’d be jealous of a seventh-grader.” Mai’s reaction shows that she fully trusts Sakuta to be faithful to her, and I’m just shocked–because so few anime actually write their couples in this way and it is amazing to witness. I also love Sakuta’s and Mai’s small moments together. It’s really cute…

Overall, I thought this was a pretty great episode, but then again, I’m biased (because Rio is my favorite character of the show). There’s not much more for me to say about this episode other than me… gushing about everything. The portrayal of Sakuta’s friendship with Rio is nice, and I wish there were more anime that had a guy and a girl as friends with absolutely no romantic subtext involved. The small scenes featuring all the characters interacting with each other was also sweet–such as them all having breakfast together, and Rio tutoring Shoko and Kaede.

If I had to critique one thing about this episode, it’s that the animation quality varies quite a bit in this episode. The important scenes have really lovely and clear animation, but the other scenes (such as the characters walking around) can be a little rough in comparison. This episode ultimately ends with TWO cliffhangers: Mai saying that she needs to discuss an important matter with Sakuta, and Sakuta discovering some risque photos of Rio. I’m real excited to see what happens in the next episode.

Out of five:

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 (From the new ED) Rio’s smile gives me life.