Is it just me, or does the animation sometimes make Minamoto look very sinister? There's a lot of wide open spaces, a lot of the characters walking on raised paths while rice paddies stretch off into the distance, a lot of contrasting bright greens with dark blues. The whole thing gives it - entirely unintentionally, obviously - an almost Madoka Magica esque surrealism every so often. Not enough to become distracting, just often enough to give the occasional jolt.
In this week's episode, Suwa attempts to convince Kakeru to join the soccer club, while Naho finds the next direction in the letter: To fulfill a promise to make Kakeru a lunch, after discovering that his mother doesn't. While Naho struggles with her own shyness and awkwardness, accidentally alienating Kakeru and almost failing to give him the lunch at all, she discovers from him the truth of why he was absent: While he was out at the park with them, his mother committed suicide. Meanwhile, in the future, an older Naho, now married to Suwa, meets up with her friends to visit Kakeru's grave.
Okay, so I covered most of the technical aspects in the first episode, and not a lot has changed there, except, weirdly, Naho's voice. It's the same voice actor, but while she was doing the whole Akane Tsunemori voice in the first episode, in this episode she puts on a drastically different performance: Higher-pitched, a little more breathy, much more shy and uncertain sounding. That can probably be put down to a combination of poor direction and Naho's shyness not being a major part of the first episode, while it's part of the central conflict of this one. Still, it's a little bit jarring.
|I'm not entirely convinced Suwa doesn't want to date Kakeru himself, but.|
With all the characters introduced, the plot this time around revolves heavily around Suwa, Naho, and Kakeru - and since Suwa and Naho are married in the future, it does seem like there's some kind of love triangle afoot, albeit a very amicable (at the moment) one. The show takes pains to give us visual cues that both Kakeru and Suwa are aware of the other's interest in Naho (and that Suwa, at least, is keenly aware of Naho's interest in Kakeru), while also telling a story about Suwa's very warm reception to Kakeru, and his seeming need to bring Kakeru out of his shell.
(In fact, he seems so intent on doing so, and so keen to pour affection, both physical and emotional, on Kakeru that I wonder whether we're meant to take away that he's just very perceptive, or whether he's also received a letter from the future. The first episode did have the entire gang burying letters in a time capsule thing, after all.)
It's a much sweeter, more palatable love triangle than one where two or more parties involved are at each other's throats, and I really hope the show isn't just trying to set things up for there to be tension later. I much prefer this entire group of friends being affectionate and sweet and generally adorable, and moreover, I don't think much more tension is needed - last episode set the stakes by revealing that Kakeru's going to die, after all, and this episode ups them with the reveal about his mother, along with a few other tidbits that throw Kakeru's 'accident' into serious doubt.
|Seriously, I'm just- I'm not convinced.|
After all, Future Naho is constantly urging Present Naho to look after Kakeru's emotional wellbeing, and to be there when he needs her. Her very first direction was one designed to put Kakeru in a position where he could have a chance at preventing his mother's suicide, and it's only because Naho ignored that that Kakeru is in such a fragile emotional state. All of which makes it seem like maybe Kakeru's not going to have an accident: Maybe he's going to commit suicide.
I am moderately irritated at Naho, though, as she spends the entire episode demurring from just giving Kakeru the damn lunch, and only gets her act together towards the end. The show justifies this by having her say, in narration, that a letter can't so easily change who she is as a person, but - it's just a lunch, Naho. You already said you'd give him one, if anything that was the hard part. You've already seen the horrible consequences for not following the letter's directions, and your awkwardness nearly made things worse. Just give him the damn lunch.
|Pictured, the aftermath of lunch-giving.|
So far, both episodes have ended on fairly positive notes - Naho realising she's in love with Kakeru (albeit with the looming threat of Kakeru's death), and Naho promising to make lunch for Kakeru every day - but it's pretty obvious that that bubble of happiness is going to end up breaking eventually, and it's going to be absolutely awful when it does. Before that happens, I'd like to see Azu, Hagita, and Chino get some focus, but I'm not tremendously fussed, because I'm mostly in this for Naho, Suwa, and Kakeru at this point.
Still, a solid second episode for a series which is turning out to be pretty good. From the looks of it, the show's going to be about thirteen episodes long, which seems about the right length for it - a twenty-four episode series would, I think, massively outstay its welcome. I'm looking forward to episode three, though, and seeing what happens there, especially as I don't have a solid idea yet of how this series is actually going to pan out.