“The Calm Before the Storm”
A pretty quiet chapter, as befits the title – but there are implications of deeper consequences to come.
While there’s a brief visit with Anna at the beginning of the chapter, the bulk of the attention is on Shu and his waiter/waitress job at the café. Anna’s been invited on a talk show with Maiko, but the meat of the issue is the hint that her friends have advised her that dating Nitorin is trouble, though we only hear the tail end of this conversation (which Nitorin, busy sewing his name on a jersey for the badminton club, seems to be oblivious to).
Why Nitorin would join the badminton club is a mystery to all concerned, but the focus of the chapter is dedicated to his decision to slip back into his girls outfit for the café. Superficially he seems to do it because the grumpy Grandpa wants his cute waitress back, but it’s an interesting development. It’d really seemed to me as if Nitorin had made an important decision in taking the job as a boy, and that’s been muddled by this change.
The upshot of all this seems to be that Nitorin is just as confused as ever, last chapter be damned. He’s fascinated by the fact that he can still “pass” and we know that’s been a topic of much consternation between he and Mako-chan. Is this a last hurrah for Nitorin – living as a girl while he still can and going out in a blaze of glory – or a sign that he plans to make this his lifestyle or good? This is a story about teenagers and self-identity after all, and that’s hard enough even for those without gender issues. And where do things with Anna go from here? I’ve come to believe there’s something more than a puppy crush and protective affection between them, but the older Nitorin gets and still struggles with his lifestyle choices, the more difficult things will get for the two of them.