Hooray for ep 7! Kotoko moves out of the Irie household and decides to get serious about forgetting Naoki. What happens next? Tennis doubles! And a lot of cozy practice time with just the two-some before the next match. The best part is, most of this is planned and engineered by the man himself: Irie Naoki.
This episode hits me two-fold. The first half is taken up by a suddenly mature though heartbroken Kotoko, who genuinely plans to give up on her crush and move on. We've seen this before when she declared to his face
that she’d forget Naoki, but in exchange received his amazing revenge kiss. This time, the effects of her declaration are little more long-lasting (about 45 minutes longer to be exact), but I think we’re seeing a different side of Kotoko. She’s clearly distressed for the first 15 minutes of the episode, and so was I! Watching her cry on screen suddenly hit me in the gut.
“A home without Irie-kun.”
This from the girl who I suspect has been harboring thoughts over the past year of living with Naoki for the rest of her life. I honestly didn't expect the first portion of this episode to be so sad. Even the mom was distraught! This though… rather made me laugh a tiny bit. Poor Mrs. Irie – sobbing alone like a mother in mourning, photo book in hand…
Thank goodness that for the sake of all our viewers’ hearts, this episode takes a nicer upbeat turn, and shows us Kotoko boldly moving on to new adventures!
I applaud Kotoko’s willpower to go on with the tennis club. As the girl who never gives up anything (except Naoki for the time being), tennis from a purely physical standpoint is a good way to keep the mind occupied on other things besides love. It’s also relatively safe since Naoki never practices on the court…
Naoki is back! Shock of all shocks! And right on time to become a new source of misery for our finally determined Kotoko. As a plot device, I really love these doubles tennis matches. It’s already a great farce to see Naoki outraged at the unfairness of tennis monster Sudo’s suggestion.
What I did not
count on was Naoki’s sheer but inner glee - as I’m SURE it must be there – about allowing him to spend more time with this girl you know
he’s been missing (inwardly, inwardly). Alright, so maybe he just misses torturing her. It certainly seems like that.
Here’s where this episode makes me stop and think. Is all this pain and suffering really worth it? By day, by night, in the rain, and until every muscle in this poor little girl’s body must be suffering, and covered in bruises already from all the tennis ball hits… Naoki? Why so mean? I think I looked something like Kotoko’s dad observing his daughter’s body toppled over at the end of the day.
I sort of want to smack Naoki for making her go through with such training, even as I know it’s all towards the end goal of our OTP spending “quality” time together. Kotoko is impressionable, and she’ll do whatever you tell her to do, as long as her mind’s made up to complete her tasks. Add the bonus of getting to hang around Naoki all day, and yup. He’s just using her. Let me smack myself now for still buying into this scenario as romantic.
“You are not alone. I’m with you so don’t be scared”
Alright, so it almost makes up for him being a jerk for so long.
Sweeping her up into his arms with that tiny hint of a smile, and gracefully admitting he was never in this to win, and I start to swoon all over again.
So what did everyone else think? I didn't even get around to poor Kin-chan. Wasn't he almost handsome in this episode? I almost think he shows more character development here than anyone else. Or at least I did until I saw Naoki purposefully making time to spend with the future love of his life.
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