What They Say:
It’s the third year of middle school. Kotaro, a bookish boy aspiring to become a novelist, and Akane, a track girl who loves to run, meet in the same class together for the first time. They’re put in charge of the equipment for the sports festival, and slowly grow closer via LINE. How does Kotaro deal with his growing feelings for her? Meanwhile, Takumi has been in love with Akane since first year, and Akane’s friend, Chinatsu, becomes interested in Kotaro. A refreshing story of young love set in Kawagoe.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Now that the relationship between Kotarou and Akane has gone public, the couple must fight off the dreaded onslaught of questions and comments thrown their way by the rest of their peers. Despite not really understanding how to deal with the situation, Kotarou and Akane stick to their guns and don’t let the pressure get to them. In fact, even when surrounded by people questioning the legitimacy of their relationship, the feelings of the two don’t seem to waver even for a moment. The barrier between them just several episodes ago has diminished to almost nothing and perhaps even shattered after the conclusion of this week’s episode.
With some guidance from his friends, Kotarou decides to stay after school and wait for Akane’s practice to be over so the two of them can go home together. However, Kotarou gets called into Taiko practice as soon as the two of them meet up. Akane, excited at the thought of seeing her boyfriend doing literally anything, asks to tag along and the two set off on an only slightly embarrassing trip to the shrine. After the beans are spilled about the nature of their relationship, one of the adults at Taiko practice tips off Kotarou about a nearby festival and hands him 1,000 yen. Reluctant to take it at first, Kotarou gracefully accepts as he and Akane take off for what can be considered their first “real” date thus far.
It is on this date that the barrier I mentioned earlier is essentially broken down as it becomes overwhelmingly clear just how comfortable these two are with each other. Through scattered, casual conversation, Akane winds up finding out that Kotarou’s birthday had just recently passed. Upset with herself, she takes off to find a present for him but only has enough money to buy him one of those stress-potatoes she has (Which now explains why there are two of them in the opening theme). Nervous at the thought of actually giving him this present, Akane becomes a touch more aloof than normal. It isn’t until the couple stops to take a break that she gains enough confidence to hand over her gift.
Of course, Kotarou loves it. But what’s even better about this is that it ultimately segues into the moment we have all been waiting for in a moving, yet natural manner. This scene was blessed by remarkable direction all around — which is to be expected from a name like Seiji Kishi.
Everything about this episode is taken up a notch or two from the already-high standards set by Tsukigakirei. One thing in particular, however, is that the background art is some of the most immersive I have seen in quite some time. For a series that doesn’t exactly have the most polished or high-budget look to it this season, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely impressed with the atmosphere of this episode — particularly the festival scene. You can just tell how much care was put into animating said backgrounds and how heavily they must have been based on actual scenery. That, in combination with some high-tier cinematography, shape this episode into a beautiful tour through the minds of two kids finding love for the first time.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll