I think this is the first episode where Naho has genuinely and deeply annoyed me. I spent most of it in a state of deep frustration at her, and while she did eventually do the right thing (in a moment oddly reminiscent of episode two - in fact, arguably episode two and episode four have nigh identical plotlines), it was still irritating to watch her pull the 'it's easy for future Naho to ask me to do these things, she's not the one actually having to do them!' as an excuse for not following future Naho's directions, even though time and time again she's been shown that bad things happen when she doesn't follow the letter's advice.
In this week's episode, Naho feels increasingly awkward around Kakeru as he dates Ueda, a girl in the year above with a jealous streak, and begins avoiding him - despite the letter warning her not to avoid him, and to instead continue talking to him. As Kakeru and Naho both become more conflicted, Ueda reaches boiling point and publicly yells at Kakeru, while Naho is offered advice by Suwa, who urges her to talk to Kakeru. In the future, meanwhile, the group visits Kakeru's grandmother.
Well, on the bright side, I was wrong about Ueda breaking Kakeru's heart - while she very publicly screams at him (in a way that seems like it should be more humiliating for her than him, but the show plays it off as if he's the one that should be embarrassed), he seems pretty unconcerned by it. I am a little annoyed that Ueda actually turned out to be a terrible person, because it seems like a bit of a tired cliche - I would have preferred it if Ueda was a genuinely nice, pleasant person, and just, you know, maybe not equipped to deal with a boy who's clearly mentally ill.
|Suwa is too good, too pure.|
Anyway, the fallout from them dating is mostly focused on Naho feeling like she can't talk to Kakeru, which grated on me a little. It feels like such an oddly immature reaction to him dating another girl, and the fact that she was warned by future Naho - in pretty strong terms, all told - not to avoid him and to keep talking to him or else bad things would happen only made that worse. Naho in this episode comes across less as someone who's well-meaning but shy and socially awkward, and more like someone who is unable to cope with a slightly weird social situation in a mature way, and that does not make her especially likable.
In previous episodes, this kind of behaviour would have been vexing, but not a serious problem - but in the wake of it being (mostly) confirmed that Kakeru committed suicide, it puts the audience in a weird position of powerlessness, where we know how and why Naho is courting disaster because she can't just suck it up and start a conversation with the lad, but can't do anything about it. That's really not a pleasant feeling.
|I'm not sure why Naho stayed on the floor for so long. Like, being knocked over sucks,|
but she didn't seem to be hurt? Idk.
Oddly, this episode has an incredibly tight focus on Naho and Kakeru, as well. They're the two leads, obviously, so they usually get the lion's share of the screen time, but the rest of the gang barely gets a look in, with the exception of Suwa, who we'll talk about in a moment. I don't think Hagita has any lines at all, and Azusa and Takako do nothing except occasionally talk about how much they don't like Ueda - which is a little odd, since they were all for Kakeru dating her last episode. The show very briefly addresses this by having someone (Suwa, I think) point out how they were cheering him on, but then the fact that they are partly responsible for this mess is never brought up again.
|The happy-ish couple.|
Suwa, meanwhile, is still my favourite character, and he gets what might be the best moment of this episode, as he stops Naho and has a firm talk with her about how she needs to actually talk to Kakeru. More and more, though, I'm convinced that something's up with Suwa - that either he has his own letter, or he somehow else has foreknowledge of the future, because Naho's remarked upon the future changing twice now (and both times dismissed it as just the result of her actions, which is not an unreasonable conclusion for her to come to, I think), and both times it's involved Suwa intervening somehow.
This was probably my least favourite episode so far, but it was still pretty enjoyable. It had a few great moments in it (the opening moments with the extreme close-ups and the ice cream machine was utterly pointless but really well done), and in general, it wasn't a bad episode, just a bit more frustrating than I really want to deal with when I'm sleep-deprived and writing up my first review of the week.