While this episode is better than last week’s, it had a slower romantic progression than before. There’s some progress being made in the background, such as Shiori attempting to get closer to Jiro with the help of her friend and Akari confessing to Jiro by accident. You could see that frustration plays as an overall theme of this episode, with Shiori’s friend getting frustrated with her due to her insecurities getting in the way of recognizing the obvious and Akari feeling like her efforts at winning Jiro’s affection are too one-sided.
I do like the point that Shiori made in this episode about how she can’t be sure if Jiro likes her romantically because, from her perspective, he doesn’t interact with any other girls, so she can’t tell if she’s being treated special. It could be that she’s just the only girl he regularly interacts with in his everyday life due to them being childhood friends. Ironically, she might be more comfortable recognizing his affection for her if Jiro gets closer to other girls like Akari, but that does run the risk that he could just as easily fall for those other girls. I wonder how she’ll act if the tables get flipped, and people start perceiving Jiro and Akari’s relationship as a romantic one. I would love to see more from Shiori’s perspective in general because while there is enough for me to extrapolate where the romantic conflict is with her, there can be more. After all, at worst, she’s more of a plot device than a character.
As for the main couple, things got spicy there at the end. I have mixed feelings about all of Akari’s physical teasing after we went through these emotional revelations connected to physical contact. From the audience’s perspective, Akari is acting out of frustration. She wants Jiro to treat her like he’s interested, and she’s just using something she already knows to grab his attention. It just feels weird that she would be that physically aggressive with him after he already showed that he cares about her too much to take advantage of her…even though there’s a good chance that he almost got swept up in the moment. In some ways, I almost feel like this whole scene should’ve happened before we had that situation a few episodes ago where Akari tried to come on to him out of desperation because while she did reciprocate Jiro’s advancements here before the nosebleed interrupted them, the line of consent felt a bit blurred at first. I’m hoping we don’t do something like this again because while I’ve been indifferent to the fan service in the show, I hope that it can be a bit more thoughtful regarding how it uses hormones and a physical relationship between characters for the sake of progressing that narrative moving forward.
P.S. insert obligatory “what the hell are these teachers doing/thinking by just watching teenagers nearly get it on with each other” comment.
More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers is currently streaming on