So, it’s time to venture into relatively unexplored territory, at least as far as romance anime go. What do you do in a romance anime after you already have a canon couple? It’s not like it’s never been done before, but even those that have (looking at you non-Ore Monogatari) don’t usually spend time on the implications of life after the courtship has ended and the relationship has begun. Happily, because Ore Monogatari!! is built with the relationship as its main feature, not just a related thread, we get episodes like this—and, other than (what is starting to becoming a troubling pattern of) diving into melodrama, it was quite lovely.
Anyways, I’m starting to feel like Ore Monogatari!! really demands posts that touch on the two big relationships—Takeo and Suna, and Takeo and Rinko—because despite the fact that this was the first episode out of a relationship being formed, we started it the same way we have all the others. Takeo, introducing himself, and Sunakawa. The scene before the opening credits was kind of a reminder that both of these guys have superficial qualities that attract others to them (Suna, obviously, gets the girls; Takeo impresses the dude with his figure), which is kind of a cute way of reminding us in the reverse that both of them are so much more. And they’re kind of a perfect match themselves.
As funny as the baby carriage on the stairs scene was, it also served as another example of why Takeo and Suna work so well together. It’s kind of the classic brains and brawn relationship, but it’s not like Takeo is stupid (just dense—as the next episode title implies—and experienced) and we don’t know that Suna is a genius (although it’s implied he’s at least book smart). And it’s not like Takeo and Suna are diametrically opposed types of people, either. They just complement each other‘s strengths and weaknesses really, really well. It’s a surprisingly balanced relationship considering how forceful Takeo is and, by the end of this episode, we’ve seen both of them consider how important the other one is to him.
That being said, it is becoming slowly clear that Suna doesn’t necessarily want to be as involved in Takeo’s love life as Takeo thinks he should be. From asking to leave a group outing where he’s essentially a third wheel to remaining mostly quiet at the singles meet, Suna doesn’t seem like he’s all that thrilled about being dragged along to all the events Takeo and Yamato go to. On one side, I do understand where Takeo and Yamato are coming from. Other than the single meeting where Yamato ran off crying, the three of them have always met up together—it’s natural for Suna to be along when Takeo and Yamato do things. Furthermore, both of them obviously like Suna quite a lot and so they probably think they’re being nice (or just enjoy his company) when they drag him along to things.
But, as anyone who’s been a third wheel to a couple made up of two people you like, even being friends with both of them doesn’t really make sitting in on their lovey-dovey time all that much fun. Suna seems to handle it better than most, making a little joke about Takeo and Yamato’s silly conversation where they just echo each other’s thoughts on the seasons, but you can bet he doesn’t really enjoy being a witness to their cuteness beyond the simple amusement of it. Which actually brings up an interesting audience-related question: why do we enjoy PDA like Takeo and Yamato in media when such antics in real life are more like to cause exasperations (“Get a room!”)? I’m not going to answer that here, but that’s something to ponder.
In any case, Suna confesses his friendship to Takeo over the phone, I cried, and now it’s time to stop talking about Suna—because heaven knows this is the second week in a row where my musing on him have dominated the post. Sorry. I just relate to him quite a lot. Onwards! Oh, wait. One more thing. Sorry. Suna also gives Takeo a mini-lesson in people, warning him that those who are friends with nice people aren’t always nice themselves, a piece of advice that explicitly foreshadowed the later trash-talking of Takeo by Yamato’s friends, but also seemed to me to be shot in such a way that Suna might have been subtly implying this about himself? Suna’s always talking himself down, you know, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he doesn’t consider himself all that great a person despite all the evidence to the contrary. But that’s a ways down the road if that’s a conflict we’re going to tackle. And it could just be me reading in too much. Anyways!
As far as Takeo and Yamato go, they’re just cute cute cute all the time. Trying (and failing the first time) to take a selfie together, Takeo’s repeated realizations of how much he likes his girlfriend, his reactions to hearing her call him her boyfriend, and them watching over their single friends with silly grins on their faces…it was all cute! Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to talk about their relationship when it’s just cuteness—although I will say all those brief moments of Takeo re-realizing that he likes Yamato are totally accurate—so instead let’s talk about the fire.
In all honesty, another life-threatening disaster was not the direction I wanted to see the narrative of this show go again, but we got it anyways. It’s a worrying tendency that Ore Monogatari!! has twice gone to what I’d consider melodrama to push its story forward, but the results of going these directions are good, so I’m not complaining yet.
What are those results? Getting to peer into Takeo’s somewhat tragic mentality about his life once again, as well as a pretty intense refutation of the whole sacrificial love as romantic idea. Are you surprised to see me, a Catholic, type that? “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Right? Well, not always. In my opinion, many anime characters are far too quick to embrace the “I must die to protect the person I love!” mentality when what the other person really needs is for them to live. Takeo, whether through his own truly sad reflections on being too happy (does that say a lot about how he views his life or what?) and through his misguided idea that by dying he can keep Yamato from crying, falls victim to this way of thinking. And yet, it’s Suna—again Suna—who calls out to Takeo and gives him the motivation he needs. That’s something really special and Takeo’s life-affirming roar that he will live to make Yamato happy was incredibly refreshing to see.
The relationship still feels kind of…unbalanced? to me—at least in terms of who is supporting who and who is doing what for who and how, but I’m not quite ready to articulate my thoughts on it much more than that (and I realize that’s a vague mess of semi-nothingness) so we shall see how things go.