With Tsukasa’s arc now at an end, we head into Rihoko’s where several months on she’s still having trouble waking up on time even with her friend Kanae to wake her up. And her love for Junichi is still one sided.
Something which even Kanae finds surprising considering all the time they’ve had together now that he’s even in the Tea Club with her. Aside from that while Junichi and Umehara are still trading photobooks and DVDs, Hibiki is also seen paying a visit on Ai and the other members of the Swim Club. And it was due to the things that they were trading that Junichi is now completely exhausted, though he covers it up with heat fatigue, so instead of cleaning up the club room with Rihoko they somehow get the idea to go to the infirmary to check her weight.
Leading to them also deciding to measure their heights and chests as they did when they were younger, where as expected Junichi was completely distracted. And from there Rihoko decides that she will cook dinner for him and Miya considering that his parents have been busy lately and he and Miya can’t really cook, an opportunity that he jumps at. So after getting home she changes clothes and heads out to buy some groceries, passing by the restaurant where Kaoru works as a waitress and bumping into her two upperclassmen from the Tea Club.
Rukka and Manaka, who as part of their course at the University they now go to are selling eel on the street, and just like Kanae they’re also a little disappointed that things haven’t progressed far between her and Junichi. But they offer her something for his heat fatigue and let her know that they’re now in the Tennis Club, though the former was for something else. Aside from that, elsewhere Miya is looking forward to something other than watermelon for dinner, and sends Junichi out for ice cream. And having left her old upperclassmen Rihoko continues on her way when she bumps into a boy from her class, who leads her tp a secluded spot under the railway bridge and begins to force himself on her. But she stops him by telling him that there’s already someone she likes, confessing it just as this someone had come to help her.
If there’s one thing that I’m hoping for out of this continuation to Rihoko’s arc it’s that she’ll get the ending that was denied to her in the first season, seriously having every other heroine go off into the sunset but her was unfair no matter how you look at it. However, so far it looks as if this arc could already be off to a good start in giving her that.
But anyway continuing the style that Rihoko’s arc had in the first season it was great to still see her in the protagonist’s position, of all the different spins that each of the arcs had it was definitely an interesting one then and it’s still a little interesting now. By following Rihoko instead there’s just something compelling to her pursuit, though at the same time heartbreaking as well considering all the other routes/arcs. But regardless we still cheer her on and hope that she’ll somehow end up with Junichi. If anything though it also sadly highlights just how dull Junichi is once his position has been torn away from him, without it he’s reduced to a fairly dense, somewhat dimwitted guy who’s mind seems to trail off at times.
On a more positive note though I also liked how we were able to see the supporting cast that came with Rihoko’s arc again, another thing that came with the reversal or roles from making her the protagonist. Instead of Umehara as the protagonist’s best friend we get Kanae, who’s always looking out for Rihoko and always has to wake her up, and two more characters, Rukka and Manaka, her upperclassmen who in a fun sort of way watch over her and try to nudge things along between her and Junichi. And while Kanae didn’t really get much of a chance to shine it was pretty fun to see Rukka and Manaka again and up to their old antics.
Overall though this episode was just a great start or rather continuation to Rihoko’s arc, as the only heroine to receive an inconclusive ending in the original season she was always going to be the one who would benefit the most from the fillerish collection of side stories that this season looks to consist of. And so far it looks as if she might just get her conclusion, the key Christmas sort of theme may be gone but it’s still a good direction, there’s still the potential for another pure rage inducing ending but the catalyst for it is still there. With the way that the episode ended with Rihoko being forced to confess that she likes Junichi, with him unknowingly overhearing it, there really isn’t much of a choice otherwise.