It looks like this episode begins either where the last episode ended, or very shortly after. Shiori and Shinozaki are walking around stalls at a New Year’s celebration (likely close by the giant bell they rung) and find a young girl crying because she lost her parents. Nobody stops for the kid except for Shiori (of course) and she calms down the kid by being cute and waifu-like (of course). Hayakawa, Shinozaki’s sister Yutaka, and Akina-Manager are all spying on them as well.
The next sequence is at work, where Shiori notices the angle in which she looks at Shinozaki is slightly less tilted upwards. She assumes she must’ve grown taller, and asks Shinozaki if he notices anything different about her. The hints she gives him are all easily misconstrued as other things, causing a comedic scene between the two (although, I didn’t find it very funny personally, it just felt like run-of-the-mill stuff).
The next random-event is an employee from a different department coming over and asking Shinozaki to take some work from him. Shiori gets immediately upset at overhearing this, because she’s the one in charge of Shinozaki, so nobody else should be giving him work — especially coworkers from a different department. For those who don’t know, this is a very reoccurring plot in office-style anime, because it often happens in officework.
Eventually, the work is handed to Hayakawa, who is the newest of the team members at the company. Akina asks what she’s up to, since she’s working overtime, and tells her she shouldn’t have taken the work from the other random employee. She’s embarrassed and said that she thought about doing it while nobody else was there, in secret. Akina asks if she’d like to get something to eat before going home.
These next few sequences were awesome and I genuinely enjoyed them. I think they’re my favorite sequences thus far this anime.
Hayakawa notices small things about Akina — such as the fact that he recalls she didn’t drink much at the Christmas corporate party. They sit side-by-side at the restaurant, and Hayakawa asks if he’s been confessed to at the office. He says, “not that much”, but doesn’t deny it has happened.
Hayakawa’s getting really flushed and a little shy at this point, and it’s evident she’s got a crush on the manager. She asks him why he doesn’t talk about his romantic life so much, and he says nobody asks him. Hayakawa gets all blushy and says “If I asked, would you tell me?” and Akina responds, “oh, you want to know?”
And meanwhile I’m getting second-hand fluff embarrassment watching this. Not embarrassment in a bad way, but more that floaty kind of embarrassment where you’re watching a romance unfold.
Regardless, Yukata overhears them from the next seat over and ditches her coworkers to sit with them instead. Hayakawa is eyeing Yukata as she sat directly next to Akina (likely out of jealousy). A misunderstanding emerges: Akina believes that Hayakawa has a crush on Yukata (when in actuality she doesn’t), and Yukata believes that Hayakawa has a crush on Akina (when in actuality she does). Thus a sequence unfolds of Akina and Yukata trying to set the other up with Hayakawa.
The final sequence goes back to boring, but not as boring as the start of the episode. Yukata asks Shinozaki if he has any pictures of Shiori, because she finds her so darn cute she wants to see her. Shinozaki says he doesn’t, so Yukata takes his phone and types out to Shiori that she wants a picture, pretending to be Shinozaki. Shiori gets flustered and goes to take a shower.
When she comes out and reads a text from Shinozaki apologizing and saying that was from his sister, she responds, “are you sure you don’t want one?”
And thus Yukata texts Shiori from her own phone and sends her tons of pictures of Shinozaki, her little brother.
Opinions / Analysis
I am starting to like the dynamic more between Akina and Hayakawa then Shinozaki and Shiori. They’re really stealing the show in the best way possible. Hayakawa is just more likeable than Shiori, and Akina is just the right balance of mysterious and kind — much less generic than Shinozaki.
We really need to get rid of this “everyday man” character trope we find in Romance comedies. They’re the most bland excuse for a protagonist ever, and I’m talkin’ to you, Shinozaki.
Regardless, I have to point out that Akina is my favorite character, but he isn’t exactly “attractive” in the way that women view attractive guys in anime. The women (especially Shiori) are drawn to be attractive — big chests, short/petite, hips, etc. Akina (and moreso, Shinozaki even) aren’t drawn to appeal to the woman’s gaze whatsoever. So what makes Akina so likeable?
It’s how he’s caring for Hayakawa. That is attractive, as a woman. Take notes, writers!