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The mayhem in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is what keeps me coming back, though the romantic development was enough in this episode.
After last week's controversy surrounding the now infamous "rape" scene, it looks like things have cooled down and now we're back on the more mainstream shojo path for the story. Haru and Shizuku are still the main actors in this tale of romance but this episode has started to integrate some of the other main characters, who will play bigger roles in the future.
The way these characters were integrated was seemingly effortless and not all that obvious. Sasayan, the loveable baseball guy, had a small introduction which may have gone unnoticed under different circumstances. It's a little funny for anyone who reads the manga to see how quite Sasayan comes off in the episode - more accurate to say unnoticeable - and even more striking was how much quieter Natsume's introduction was.
Natsume is one of those characters who adds comedy through a variety of means and in this episode we see two ways. First off all there is a lot of comedy surrounding her character itself: she has what I like to call "white girl problems" i.e. the I'm too pretty syndrome. This combined with her low aptitude for studies makes her entertaining at times but as you might be able to guess this might lead to a more serious story down the line. In this episode she definitely came of as a joke character as she subjected to being tutored endlessly, threw up straight after eating Monja and of course played off of Shizuku's jokes very well.
Even with the introduction of these two characters, this episode was still all about Haru x Shizuku. Haru is coming off a lot better than he did in the previous episode, and I think it has a lot to do with his pure hearted idiot characteristic. Unlike the first episode, he's actually acting more like a shojo lead and is considerate towards the one he loves, thus prompting a reply confession from Shizuku at the end of the episode.
It'd be funny if this was all there was to the love story for Haru and Shizuku. Obviously it's not, but I think it was a nice way for Shizuku to express her feelings of gratefulness to Haru for -as she mentioned in her voice-over- changing her life a little bit. This was the highlight of the episode for me, because I don't remember getting the same warm feeling when I read the chapters of the manga. It was a shining moment for romance and I loved every second of it.
No surprise that Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun followed through with a very strong second episode and still maintained the levels of comedy that were present in the first episode.