OP2: "Yume no Tsuzuki" (夢の続き) by Konomi Suzuki
Cour 2 (or more accurately, what feels like season 3) of Sakurasou kicks off with an episode that takes us squarely down the RomCom path, complete with the clueless male lead. I’ve been trying to figure out from the beginning if this show was a formula harem series with occasional bursts of originality and depth, or a deep and inventive relationship series which sometimes lapses into formula. I suspect it’s the former, especially after an episode like this one, but it’s interesting in its own way watching the show teeter back on forth between its competing personalities. And there’s always the potential of a “wow” moment happening at any time, which offers some incentive to stick around and find out.
To be honest, after everything we’ve seen in 12 episodes, the notion that Sorata could be this utterly clueless about Shiina’s feelings is a pretty huge lapse into absurdity. I don’t expect him to be like Gigolo Jin, but it really feels as if he’s been pushed into the role he fills this week in order to drive the plot forward. As to that, once again we have some more unusual and interesting threads competing with very conventional ones – and the focus on this one was the most conventional of all, the triangle of Sorata, Shiina and Nanami. We’ve even got the classic dilemma – which girl to se on Christmas Eve? I frankly don’t see Nanami as an especially interesting character and she seems like the destined loser in this struggle (which may of course end up without any decisive winner, if it follows that formula) but the onus is certainly on Sorata to keep his promise and go to the play with her on Xmas Eve, now that he’s made it. Even if it’s clear to whom his heart belongs.
The much more interesting element of the series is the notion of normal people trying to coexist and even connect with exceptional ones, and that’s not totally absent here, fortunately. Sorata has been turned down again on a game submission, and quite naturally this vents in anger towards Shiina for wanting to have an actual life apart from drawing manga. The talk between Sorata and Mashiro’s editor was interesting, in that each has a sort of vested interest in which Shiina wins out – and the editor, with a lot more experience and maturity (and love of brown foods) says that she prefers to see the Mashiro who acts more like a normal girl, even if it’s a threat to her professional success (though a little cut is definitely overdramatized, there is a genuine issue when artists want to do things like play with knives). Sorata meanwhile says he’s likes the old Shiina better, though he can’t quite find the word to describe how the new one makes him feel (I think “uneasy” is the one, Champ).
There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on with that dynamic, and that’s where Sakurasou is at its best. Sorata clearly feels on-edge about Shiina changing because of her feelings for him – that puts him under a lot of pressure. The manga-obsessed, clueless Shiina is a much safer prospect – dealing with this one comes dangerously close to demanding commitment. And there’s the fact that as a muggle, it viscerally infuriates him to see someone who actually has the opportunity to share their talent and be recognized for it have the temerity to think about anything else (like love, even if he’s the object of it). I see the same dynamic in Kamoshida’s writing, ironically enough. The triangle stuff and the endless Sisyphean drama between Jin and Misaki feel very safe and manageable, while dealing with the deeper psychological aspects is full of risk. As such, he seems to keep using the crutch of formula – but if you’re going to introduce those other elements into a series, it seems like a real shame to keep settling for stuff that’s been done a million times already. There’s certainly a curiosity factor involved in finding out which side wins out, even if the handwriting seems to be on the wall.
ED2: "Prime Number -Minna to Deaeru Hi-" (Prime number～君と出会える日～) by Asuka Okura