I must admit – I wasn’t expecting an episode that would almost act as a direct follow-up of the Christmas episode we got last week. I don’t know exactly how much romantic relationship-building this episode carried when you consider the star players within it, but it definitely does feel like progress has been made here. The two leads getting sick trope feels like a staple of this genre at this point, but I’m glad that it was used so economically here. This is probably the first episode since the premiere where we’ve gotten to see a bit more regarding Harumi’s approach to things outside of work and how his overall personality doesn’t make him invincible. I’m glad this is a show that doesn’t portray the optimist of the cast as untouchable; that there will be times where he will need to be looked after by others due to how out of touch he can be and how little he seems to take care of himself.
I daresay this is probably the first episode where you could argue that he doesn’t see Futaba as a child, but rather as someone mature enough to take care of somebody else when they’re not doing well (kinda like a wife for a husband). There’s not much in terms of romantic interest, but we need to get her out of that hole of being seen as a child that needs to be looked after first. So at the very least, I’m glad that seems to be accomplished in this episode, and I really hope they don’t pull it back in subsequent ones.
I will say though the MVPs of this episode weren’t Harumi or Futaba, but rather their friends and coworkers who delightfully make it clear that they know exactly what’s going on without even trying to hide it. They are giving Futaba no room to hide when she gets found out regarding taking care of her senpai when he’s sick, but I also appreciate the fact that everyone is taking a step back to let things play out between our two leads. For such a competitive work environment, everyone seems so warm and welcoming to the point where it makes me wish that a lot of jobs were more like that. All of the little quips just come off as playful banter and it doesn’t feel like anyone is trying to push or force anything. That’s probably the best way to describe this episode and the series so far; it doesn’t force anything and lets the characters slowly reveal little things about each other. It doesn’t present any promise that there will be a major romantic upheaval by the end, but if we can get to a place where the two leads see each other more as equals, then I think that’ll be good enough for me.