ep 21. This show is frustratingly good at what it does.
The cold open shows that Mayaka's frustrations with Satoshi have been building up for a long time, and now their relationship is about to explode. That, and the opening scene were pretty dramatic, and reestablishes that Mayaka is the most emotionally volatile of this group. For whatever reason, this show feels like it needs to frequently reestablish who the characters are and they're not even that subtle about it, but at least this sequence was fun.
Maybe I'm misremembering but Hotaro bringing up how Satoshi had changed since middle-school seemed to come out of nowhere? I guess this establishes how Mayaka grew to like him since younger Satoshi was a lot like current Mayaka; exultant in victory, graceless in defeat, committed and cared about the challenges they face. Now, Satoshi is a coward; he hates to lose so he never tries. That's why Satoshi is afraid of committing to Mayaka, because he doesn't think he can be the man she think he is. But as frustrating as that is at times, I'd rather watch these dumbasses than a show where their waifus just fall out of the they sky and love them unconditionally forever. I'd rather watch a show that acknowledges that relationships need work.
The scene with Eru and Mayaka shopping was cute. Mayaka being so committed to this one act of expression that she struggles to pick out a ribbon was a nice contrast to the previous scene with their boys. And beause the show can't help itself, it had another scene where Eru sort of confesses to Hotaro, and he kinda got it this time? I think? The final shot where they're purposefully putting distance between themselves makes me want to think he got it, they're just shy.
The rest of the ep wasn't as fun. Heartbreaking, actually.
As usual, this ep's mystery wasn't much of a mystery. You just know who did it right away, but Eru always hopes for and brings out the best in people, so Hotaro goes through the charade for her. It's a sweet gesture, shows much he cares about not only Eru but his whole social group.
As the "investigation" went on, Satoshi's selfishess drew in more casualties, and the scenes got angrier and more painful. Mayaka's inevitable arrival just made it more depressing. Satoshi's empty smile. Mayaka putting on a brave face, knowing what must've happened. Eru, who was so happy to see Mayaka's earnest investment in this expression of her feelings, feeling like she had stolen her friend's hard-fought happiness. Hotaro knows he can't fix the problem, but he knows he has to do something. He wants
to do be there for Eru.
This was Hotaro's strongest moment yet — using his gift not just to solve some random puzzle, but to protect the people who are important to him. He may never solve every problem perfectly, he may never be the man Eru thinks he is, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't try. And that's what Satoshi has to learn, there is value in the attempt.
Most adolescent dramas are about the process of growing into a more mature person, but one of the things that makes Satoshi so weirdly compelling as a character is that this is not his
story. He is watching his best friend live that fairy tail. Even when he tries, he can't enter that world. Satoshi is so frustrating to watch when he puts on his act, but I also can't blame him for doing it.
But hey, in the end, he did make the call. I want to believe this show is going to give him some proper closure in the end, but it probably won't, because it's not his story.