Spoiler warning: This review discusses plot specifics from the first three episodes of Sasaki and Miyano.
Last week’s installment of Sasaki and Miyano focused largely on Sasaki. The older boy’s growing feelings for Miyano, combined with the pair’s frequent miscommunications, spurred on quite a lot of angst. This week attention shifts to Miyano, who finally realizes that some of Sasaki’s “jokes” aren’t jokes at all. Does the series keep up the same high quality writing and animation its had thus far?
The episode begins with a bit of a translation challenge. Sasaki is referred to as being “cat-tongued,” or averse to hot food. (The word 猫舌 is literally composed of the kanji for ‘cat’ and ‘tongue.’) There’s no real equivalent phrase in English, but the translators do about as good of a job as possible of conveying the meaning in a way that makes sense in English without disrupting the flow of conversation too badly.
As for the scene itself, its another cute example of Sasaki coyly testing the waters with Miyano. One implication leads to another ending with Sasaki offering a kiss, which causes Miyano to blush profusely. At the time he treats it like a joke, but his pondering of Sasaki’s feelings and actions drives his arc throughout the rest of the episode.
One of this episode’s main strengths is how natural its plot progression feels. The characters are frequently put into situations that trigger romance tropes and retrospection about said tropes, but the events never feel forced or rushed. This is due largely to how believably all the characters act as typical high school students, with all the good and bad traits that implies.
Said classmates drive this week’s most pivotal scenes. At one point early on Miyano overhears Sasaki getting interrogated by a classmate about why he, as a man, is reading BL manga. Sasaki’s calm, matter-of-fact reaction is very endearing to Miyano, who has always been the more timid of the two. This scene is pivotal in showing how Sasaki discusses gay topics with others, and reaffirms the expectation set by the series’ first two episodes: societal prejudices won’t be outright ignored, but they’re also going to be handled deftly without entering especially traumatic territory. This is ultimately a feel-good series.
That’s not to say that the approach feels artificial or devoid of depth the way much wish fulfillment-oriented gay fiction does, however. The leads’ personality clashes emphasize concerns over social standing and identity, and their respective soul searches get adequate screen time to make clear that these are dynamic characters with flaws, interests, and goals. The leads’ shared bumbling sincerity is best exemplified by the chocolate exchange scene, in which Sasaki scrambles, and ultimately fails, to find an appropriate reciprocal gift for Miyano. The characters try their hardest and sometimes come up short, committing social blunders with all the best intentions.
All in all this episode is both poignant and a lot of fun. The writing is strong throughout and it’s pleasantly surprising that the lead pair are so explicitly aware of each other’s feelings by the end. Here’s hoping the pacing continues to be this good going forward. The closest thing to a con this episode has is just that it’s animation doesn’t reach quite the same level of charm as last week, but it’s still very good. On the whole this series continues to be a joy to watch.
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