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This episode of Sukitte Ii na yo. was interesting to say the least. A little different for fans of shojo anime and even for a casual watcher like myself, so it was a new experience that yielded some mixed results.
The sweet and sour composition of the episode should be applauded. Though unlikely to be a hit with everyone, the mix of innocent moments and the more 'ugly' ones - revolving around sex and whatnot - was a little unexpected, given how both types of moments were at the extremes of their respective selves.
It was almost too cute at the beginning when we had the reaction from Mei's mum and then the her inability to pick out clothes for her date. This cuteness carried on for a little bit throughout the date and then for better use of phrase, shit got real. A new character, whom we only saw for a split second in episode, has now firmly planted herself as an important part of the cast.
Got to admit, her introduction was made memorable by the sudden mention of sex. Now I had heard beforehand that Sukitte Ii na yo. is a rare a shojo series that actually addresses the issues of teenage sex, but that still didn't stop this from being a bit of a shocker. The one unreal aspect that a lot of shojo and, depending on which magazine, some shonen series have is the innocence to build up to the kiss and only talk about the kiss.
The way Sukitte Ii na yo. has been paced and with all the kissing going on, it may not have been a surprise to many viewers and the series should be congratulate to some extent for its realism. Sex is still being made out to be a big deal but it contains a little bit of a shojo vibe.
Aiko, the new girl, also came off as a victim in all this though I didn't care much for her. She did bring some typical teenage girl problems that will undoubtedly be brought up in the future as a plot to take back Yamato or for some serious character development but she didn't convince me that she is a rival in romance. Rivals in romance are standard for any genre of romance so they differ and that is good, however Aiko was pitiable which doesn't make her a good rival already.
The last major moment in this episode (arguably) was Yamato recounting his past. Prior to this, I already had a much lesser opinion of him for having pity sex with Aiko - this is a a male lead in a shojo ! - and unfortunately, his moment of weakness didn't inspire any emotions or empathy. This was poorly timed and, given the 13 episode constraint, unavoidable to some extent. My preference is to see the more serious character development later on as is customary with shojo series, though the timing of this coinciding with the news of his pity one night stand was not helpful. Source material's fault or not, Yamato is not making me feel for him or root for him in any way.
Minor grievances aside, Sukitte Ii na yo. continues to be a stable series; not doing anything extraordinary but instead doing it right. This particular episode was memorable for being different.