I need more mundane “found family” stuff in this anime.

Summary:

Sakuta finds out from Mai that her agency has forbidden her from having romantic relationships, so he and Mai both agree to temporarily put a hold on their dates. In the meantime, Sakuta continues conversing with both Rios in an attempt to figure out a solution to their split-body problem.

Oof, I know that feel, sis.

One day whilst hanging out with the Rio-with-ponytail, Rio’s constant posting of risqué photos leads to some scary consequences. To help put her at ease, Sakuta walks Rio home, and winds up staying over at her house for the night (as both her parents are working abroad). That night, Rio confesses to Sakuta that she’s deeply afraid of being abandoned now that both of her only friends have gotten girlfriends. To put her mind at ease, Sakuta calls up Yuma. They all end up lighting fireworks by the beach together, which makes Rio realize that her friends truly care about her.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up at this part.

When Sakuta finally returns home from this excursion, Rio (the one staying at Sakuta’s house) finds out about what the other-Rio has been up to and falls into despair. Sakuta eventually finds her holed up at the school as a typhoon rages outside. This Rio wishes to simply disappear, although Sakuta refuses to just let her mope about this. Due to running around outside in the rain, Sakuta collapses and is rushed to the hospital. After he recovers a bit, Sakuta again talks to (the glasses-wearing, hair-down) Rio; which finally gives her the courage to accept herself as she is. After making a short phone call to herself, the two Rios form back into one person.

I hope these guys stay friends for a long time.

My Opinion:

Despite Rio’s arc being shorter than the previous girls’ (they were all three-episodes long while Rio’s is only two episodes long); Rio’s story never felt rushed. Perhaps it was because the series had been hinting at and working towards her problems right from the start. Although I’m a little sad to see the focus on Rio taken away so soon, I’m glad that her arc didn’t overstay its welcome.

Rio’s arc felt to me like one of the more interesting and complicated ones of this season. Mai’s problem was her inner conflict between her desire to live a normal life and return to showbiz; and Tomoe’s problem mostly boiled down to not wanting to be unpopular. Rio’s main problem centered around her intense hatred of herself—her body and her actions. Rio also had issues of relating to fear of abandonment and a need for attention (even if it was the bad kind). The ending to Rio’s arc is definitely nowhere near as intense as Mai’s and Tomoe’s. But I really loved it, because I could relate to those sorts of feelings. Ultimately, what Rio needed was just reassurance that it was okay to not fully love yourself—and that’s okay because she has friends that will stick by her no matter what.

Honestly, most of this episode was just scenes of Rio spending time with friends and having conversations with Sakuta. And that’s perfectly fine by me. I am obviously biased (as Rio is my fave girl), but it was just really heartwarming to see the normally cold and stoic Rio actually smiling and enjoying herself. At the very end of the episode, Rio gains the courage to wear a yukata out to see fireworks, and even manages to confess to Yuma (despite already knowing the answer). It’s really nice to see her grow as a character.

Again my biggest criticism for this episode is the animation quality. Man, the animation quality really tanked in this episode, which is unfortunate. True, there weren’t very many noteworthy scenes because it was just Rio hanging out with friends. But dammit, it’s the ending of a character’s arc; you would think they’d put a little bit more effort into it. It made some of the important scenes felt a little less impactful.

Overall, this was a quiet ending to a rather quiet arc. I’m pretty satisfied with the conclusion (and Sakuta continues to be one of the best-written male protagonists). We appear to have a body switch scenario between Mai and an idol girl in the next episode—I wonder what that’s all about?

Out of five:

Seems like we’re focusing on this character next time.