Just Because! Ep. 10: A Valentine’s Day massacre

Can you believe this guy? It’s like he’s never seen a romantic comedy before. Whenever you have the classic third act misunderstanding, the guy is supposed to chase after the girl. He’s not supposed to let her go and he’s definitely not supposed to say, “Why are you making that face?” Gee, she just saw another girl on your phone. I wonder why she’s not happy about it! The only reason why Eita isn’t as annoying as, say, Yuta from Recovery of an MMO Junkie is because he doesn’t whine. He just puts his head down and grind. He hasn’t given up; he’s just too scared and too dense to do anything.

Like we all predicted, Mio sees that photo of Ena on Eita’s phone. Again, I’m utterly dumbfounded that anyone at his age is completely incapable of changing their smartphone’s wallpaper. For Christ’s sakes, he’s not an octogenarian who has never seen a smartphone before; he’s a teenager in the year 2017. All you have to do is poke around in your phone’s settings for about five minutes and you’ll eventually brute force the solution. But even if Eita is tech illiterate, he can surely look up the instructions on the internet. Youtube has instructional videos for practically everything nowadays.

But yeah, yeah, I get it. Lately, Eita’s been too focused on his upcoming entrance exam. Plus, he never thought Mio would ever see his phone, so he simply never worried about it. Most importantly, we need a moment of contrived miscommunication to kick off the classic third act misunderstanding. It’s tradition! And I mean, just look at these two:

Eita: “You need to go to the staff room?”

Mio: “Yeah, something like that.”

(One of Mio’s teachers walks by.)

Eita: “Wasn’t that your homeroom teacher?”

Mio: “Actually, no, he isn’t.”

Hoo boy, slow down, kids. It’s getting a little hot and heavy up in here.

Anyway, I like how Mio is the complete opposite of Ena. Ena messaged the guy the night before just to make sure he was coming to school on Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, Mio brings her chocolates to school, but she leaves the rest up to chance. If Eita hadn’t shown up, what would she have done instead? I doubt she would’ve dropped by his house (if she even knows where it is). She can’t even muster up the courage to message him like Ena did. So naturally, these kids are shy and awkward around each other. When was the last time they spoke in person? Hell, when was the last time they even spoke on LINE?

Speaking of which, what is Eita’s problem? When Mio sees Ena on his phone, it breaks her heart. She tells him that she’s going home and turns to leave. He immediately grabs her arm and says, “Wait, this is….” It’s what, buddy? C’mon, finish your sentence. It’s what? It’s a (third act) misunderstanding, right? You want to clear things up with the girl you love, right? But no, Eita doesn’t do what is sensible. When she turns back to glare at him with tears in her eyes, he simply lets go. She then runs off, and all he can say is, “Why are you making that face?” God, what is wrong with you, man?

Later that night, Eita finds himself too distracted to study. No doubt, he’s thinking about Mio. His phone is right there, too. It’s almost like… he could text her to explain the third act misunderstanding. What’s that? We shouldn’t discuss such sensitive matters over text? It should be in person? I agree! But clearly, Eita doesn’t have the courage to face Mio. He can’t even ask her over text if she’s okay. After all, she was crying. Does that not bother him? Look, does he care about her or not? He obviously does; he’s determined to pass Suizan University’s entrance exam in some misguided attempt to follow her. But Eita’s so spineless in almost every other facet that I can’t help but wonder about the truth depth of his feelings sometimes. How can you watch the girl of your dreams run off with tears in her eyes? It doesn’t compute, my dudes. Should he chase her all the way onto the tarmac? Of course not, but Christ, do something!

You know who can do something? Ena. Ena’s our can-do girl. She even visits every nearby shrine to maximize Eita’s luck on his entrance exam. Goddamn, if you ever needed an example of how love is an action, there you go. She was even going to give Eita a bunch of homemade chocolates, but she hides around the corner when she sees Mio reach him first. For once, someone manages to beat the second-year to the punch. Still, the girl took the effort to make homemade chocolates! That shit’s not easy for a first-timer. I’m sure she taste-tested them too: “…I didn’t wanna give you an upset stomach after giving you some homemade chocolate.” They’re probably not that bad. After all, they’re good enough for her fellow club members. But I digress. My point is, if anyone’s going to fix this mess, I bet it’s going to be Ena.

After seeing Mio storm off and Eita just standing there like a dork, Ena grabs his phone to check if that photo of her is still on it. “I knew it,” she says. It’s almost as if she couldn’t believe it herself that this dude is incapable of changing a simple background picture. So what does she do? She changes it for him. She also apologizes for driving a wedge between Eita and Mio even though it’s not really her fault. More on that in a bit. Finally, she doesn’t hand over those homemade chocolates. What does that mean? Is Ena conceding? Sort of, I think. What do we do when we love something dearly? We let them go. We set them free:

Eita: “Wait, does this mean you’re okay with me passing the exam?”

Ena: “Hm…?”

Eita: “I mean, you know the reason I’m taking the entrance exam…”

Ena: “I told you before. I’ll root for you and the president.”

Eita: “Is that so?”

Ena: “Well, I’m actually not happy about it. I think you should fail.”

Eita: “Hey.”

Ena: “But you’ve been studying hard, so I think I actually do want you to do well on the test.”

Ena is refreshingly straightforward. Yes, she doesn’t want him to end up at the same university as Mio. But she also cares about him too much, so she wants him to succeed as well. It makes perfect sense. I want ice cream, but I also don’t want to be fat. It’s okay to have competing desires. The fact that Ena still roots for Eita anyway is a sign of how much she cares about him. He’s been kind of pathetic the past few weeks, but feelings are feelings; they’re not always rational. At least he barely got any chocolate this week. A Persona 5-esque Valentine’s Day beatdown would’ve been funnier, but alas, this will do.

So in the end, thanks to Eita’s inability to communicate his feelings whatsoever, the girls will likely have to do everything in the final two episodes. After doping her brain with a box of chocolates — the same box she was going to give Eita — Mio swears that she’ll tell him how she truly feels. There’s just one caveat: she won’t do it until she passes her entrance exam for Joei University. But what if she doesn’t pass? Will she hold herself and her feelings back? After all, she might think they’ll be going to different schools, so there’s no point in getting into a relationship. Hazuki comes to this conclusion with regards to Haruto, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for Mio to do the same.

That’s why I think it might just come down to Ena and Ena alone to fix this whole mess. Again, she has nothing to apologize for. If anything, when Eita and Mio do end up together, they should probably thank the girl. On the one hand, if the second-year had never existed, we wouldn’t have this third act misunderstanding to suffer through. Mio wouldn’t have to run off and cry. But on the other hand, Ena’s presence alone is forcing Mio to confront her true feelings. Mio’s obviously hurt, but she nevertheless tries to make the best of the situation: “I’m completely serious about him!” She even forces a smile through her tears. What a trooper. I’m not sure if Eita deserves all this love and attention he’s getting from both girls.

But is this really the first time that Mio’s completely serious about Eita? Maybe. Even though she didn’t want Ena to ask the guy out, she did nothing to stop it from happening. And as I repeatedly mentioned in last week’s post, she’s barely spoken to the guy lately. Even the decision to give him chocolates came on a whim; had Mio not seen a Valentine’s Day display on her way home from cram school, she probably wouldn’t have even bothered with the damn holiday. And it’s not like she got him any super fancy chocolates or anything. They’re just generic truffles from a conbini. Mio likes the guy, and she has a long history with him. Great. But let’s face it: as much as Eita’s a wimp, Mio deserves some of the blame. She’s completely half-assing it. It’s not like she didn’t get ample warning. Ena couldn’t possibly flash bigger warning signs: “ATTENTION: I WILL ASK EITA OUT. I AM YOUR RIVAL.” At the start of the episode, Mina spots the box of chocolate in Mio’s lap and tries to encourage her younger sister. The latter doesn’t exactly reply with conviction:

Mio: “Well, I sort of am [trying my best].”

Mina: “‘Sort of?'”

Mio: “I intend to do my best.”

That doesn’t sound like someone who is brimming with confidence. But who knows? Maybe we’ve finally turned a corner with Mio. And even if we haven’t, I’m sure Ena cares about Eita too much to not help out. She’ll probably even have a heart-to-heart with her rival and clear up the whole photo fiasco. If this doesn’t happen next week, then it’ll certainly happen before the absolute end of the series.

Ideally, we want that dork Eita to, well, at least meet Mio halfway. I don’t think he should take on the entire burden of kick-starting their relationship, but he has to at least do something. He shouldn’t have let go of her today, and when he did so anyway, he should’ve chased after the girl. As cliche as this might have been, it’s better than just walking in the opposite direction. But who knows if Eita can finally find his spine in time for the show’s conclusion? This week’s episode pretty much confirms that he did get into Joei University; he tells his mother that he’ll pay her back for Joei’s admission fee after he gets a part-time job. Looks like he has his bases covered then. Eita just has to fill Mio in on his plans at some point. Better soon rather than later. C’mon, man, it’s time to step up to the plate. You only have two episodes left.

As for Haruto and Hazuki, well… her inferiority complex is showing. The girl invites the guy all the way out to a baseball field. She then plays the trumpet, thereby allowing Haruto to relive his glory days. He imagines himself hitting a home run, then rounding the bases. No doubt he’s winning a big game right now — maybe even the big game. It’s the least she could do for him. After all, Hazuki’ll soon go off to college, and likewise, Haruto’ll soon become a factory worker. That sounds like 9-5 for most of us, but who knows what Haruto’s actual hours will be. Time erodes everything. Our bodies slowly grow old and wither away, and likewise, even our strongest memories slowly fade and slip away as time passes. Hazuki plays the trumpet once more just so Haruto can etch this memory into his mind. Why? Because if he can one day forget these songs, then he can also one day forget her.

“Why me?” That’s the question that Hazuki cannot answer. We’ve been through this in last week’s post, but it bears repeating: Hazuki doesn’t believe she stands out in any particular way. She’s not super smart, she’s not super pretty, she’s not super stylish, so on and so forth. A last minute change in wardrobe and hairstyle isn’t going to clear away those cobwebs of doubt and insecurity. For all she knows, the only reason Haruto likes her is because her trumpet reminds him of his glory days. But for the next few years, she won’t be able to play for him. When he joins the company baseball game from time to time, she can’t be there to cheer him on. And without that, what’s left? I’m not saying Hazuki has nothing else to offer; rather, she thinks she has nothing else to offer. And that’s why she wants to know if his love can withstand time: “…I want you to wait until my college life settles down. If you still like me at that time, then… please go out with me.” She’s basically giving him a purity test, and I can’t say I agree with it. I think it’s a bit unfair… then again, I get where she’s coming from.

Some of the blame naturally falls on Haruto’s shoulders. As I pointed out in last week’s post, he’s been complacent. Ever since Hazuki told him that she would give him a second consideration, he’s taken a step back; he’s become completely passive. Not only is he unable to sense what’s been troubling her lately, Haruto hasn’t really shown her why he appreciates her so much. I don’t doubt that he has strong feelings for Hazuki, but at some point, your actions have to back up your words. And before he can act, he’ll have to dig deep down and answer that one important question: “Why her?” Like Eita, he’s still got time; he’s still got two episodes left to turn this around.

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One Reply to “Just Because! Ep. 10: A Valentine’s Day massacre”

  1. “Can you believe this guy?”

    To be honest, no. The fact that he is so tech-illiterate that he can’t change his wallpaper is already pushing it, but this? This is on the whole new level of stupid. I mean his only redeeming quality is that he is willing to go an extra mile just for his loved one (i.e. Mio). I just can’t buy that he is a genuine nice guy, considering how dour he is when interacting with non-Mio people, including his so-called friends.

    I’m 100% sure that he knows why Mio acted that way. This guy is only dense on non-Mio stuff. He is scared makes much more sense, but he also said that he didn’t understand like your average harem animu male protagonist. It doesn’t make sense. Either the story want to have its cake and eat it too, or this guy is on “I reject reality” mode. Seriously, this is no longer on the level that he is shy and introverted. This is on the level that he has problems.

    This turn of events feels forced for the sake of drama. Forced drama is forced drama. It’s just lame.

    The anime still got two episodes left, so Eita still got a chance to find his spine, but if this problem ends up solved by Ena of all people. Yeah… Both Eita and Mio are pathetic. Do they expect Ena-like figure to help them all the time. I still blame Eita more, though, for the simple fact that he is the one that wants to start this relationship, not Mio. He should be the one that works the hardest to start it, not some girl that he just met recently.

    I mean the guy is the one who fell in love with Mio. Isn’t it supposed to be his job to make her love him and convince her that he is the right man? Why should she works for a relationship that isn’t even concrete in the first place? She is indeed half-assing the entire thing, but I see no reason to be completely serious for this kind of relationship. The burden of starting a relationship is on the initiator. After it begins, then it’s shared between the two of them or that is what I believe.

    I don’t exactly support Hazuki and her purity test, but just like you, but I can see why she did it and Haruto is also not doing a good job on his part… and I guess that is it. Not much to comment on this relationship.

    The girls are the only ones who are doing the hard work here. The boys need to keep up and fast.

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