What They Say:
The person who called Ryuto to the gym at night was actually Maria. She confesses her desperation to become Ryuto’s first, even if that means dressing and acting like Runa. Ryuto is shocked. As the two talk it out, someone else watches from the shadows.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Our Dating Story has done a lot of great stuff so far in working through its characters and the situations they’re in. I continue to be fascinated by how different this show is from nearly everything else by having even just one character with experience. That has opened the show up to a lot more engaging storylines and character material as we see how Runa is dealing with her perception of what it means to be a girlfriend – and how she struggles with a boyfriend who isn’t like any of those she was with before – while also seeing how other dynamics play out. Everything with the twin sister Maria is the fun over-the-top soap opera material and it works well to add that splash of the absurd and chaos into it, but the real material for me continues to be what we get with Runa and Ryuto, along with Runa’s friend who has been a surprisingly good help.
Maria’s attempts at seducing Ryuto are pretty underhanded as she sounds like her sister and dresses up like her, but she knows there are obvious differences that even Ryuto can figure out. He’s just flummoxed by this but she wants him and she feels she can give him something her sister never can, which is her first time. It’s a pretty powerful thing but the way she’s weaponizing it against her sister, even if she may have or starting to have real feelings for Ryuto, just undercuts the whole thing. This opening encounter in the school gym is really well done to show who both of them are at this point, good and bad, and for Ryuto to try and smooth things out some. Yes, he may be too much of a good guy in some ways, too understanding, but there really are people like this out there and even if it’s self-interest, he doesn’t want to see Runa hurt. Nor Maria since he did care for her once, but it’s about more than just a single thing. Watching them work through some of this is thoroughly engaging.
Of course, a picture gets out of the two of them talking that night and when the discussion comes up at school about how Maria was the one turned him down before, that’s something that Runa overhears and it just turns to a mess from there. Everyone runs off from Ryuto – and he gets a slap from Yamana – and there’s a lot of internal disgust on his part about how he ended up doing the one thing he never wanted to by making Runa cry. Ryuto basically gets isolated by everyone at this point and while he tries to reach out he gets nothing back, instead just focusing on his studies but with his head very much stuck on Runa. It’s something that we see play out over part of the episode as a mild montage of sorts so we know some time passes, but we also get some time to understand how he’s pretty distracted during things like cram school because of it. Things just aren’t right. And when he sees a picture of Runa out with some other guy, well, he realizes his mistake in not following through in reaching out to her.
Of course, the guy in the picture, Mao, isn’t what Ryuto thinks he is and that makes for an awkward confrontation when he does find them at the beach. He thankfully goes for a simple and honest apology – something that Yamana isn’t keen on – but it allows Mao to step in and reveal that he’s Runa’s uncle. Like most things, sometimes you just need some time to sit down and talk things through and Mao is able to smooth things out a bit while Yamana is more abrasive. But the reality is that this is something that Runa has to deal with and her nature is one to forgive, though the two need to work through what actually happened and the way he had hid who it was that turned him down since it’s tied to her. While I can see the argument that she perhaps forgives him too easily, the reality is that there’s little true fault here and just misunderstandings made worse by the manipulations of Maria. Seeing them work through this and her realizing that he was just trying to be kind to Maria because that’s who he is allows it to unfold well.
The setup at the end for at least the next episode where the two leads will be together on the beach working and playing, there’s a lot of amusing potential for what’s possible. It’ll be good to have some lighter and more fun material after the seriousness of this episode and a good chunk of the previous one. I really liked seeing the way things work through here with everyone involved and we’re getting some very fleshed out characters with what they’re going through and why they act like they do. I do want more time with Yamana but I’m genuinely curious to see more of Runa’s story as we spend more time with her family next and get to see how Ryuto handle being in amid all of this – and being so close to Runa for as long as he will be by having to work with her.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll