— I half-expected Sakuta to wake up with nobody by his side, but that might have been a little too soon for the story to pull this stunt.
— The real tragedy is that even doggos can no longer see Mai. Still, this means you can walk right up to cats without scaring them off.
— When the duo returns to their school, it seems as though even Mai’s classmates can no longer see her. Since high school is so important to anime characters, the only thing that could be worse than this is the main character suddenly forgetting about Mai…
— …which will obviously happen. You just know it. It’s one of those endings that you can see from a mile away. Sakuta will forget about Mai, remember her, then make some sort of grand romantic gesture to get her to reappear. The only question is what will he do.
— Is this a bad thing? I mean, I guess your mileage will vary. As cliche as Mai’s arc might be, I have a soft spot for romance so I can’t hate it too much. Sometimes, we want things to be predictable. Sometimes, it’s a comfort to know that the good guys will win in the end.
— Rio suddenly shows up to inform Sakuta that knowledge of Mai’s existence is now down to three people. That’s oddly specific. Why is Rio so important?
— Apparently, it’s because neither she nor Sakuta went to sleep last night. What? You say that doesn’t really explain anything? Welp, time to drag out Schrodinger’s cat’s well-trodden corpse. First, people inadvertently ignored Mai’s existence! Second, if you don’t observe her existence, then her existence is not confirmed! Ergo, she… doesn’t exist? Whatever. I’m just here for the romance and character drama. The pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo is not remotely satisfying. Not only that, it isn’t done with any panache. Mawaru Penguindrum would at least throw trippy visuals at us. Seishun Buta Yaro is playing it straight, i.e. two people sitting and talking in a room.
— So look, just never go to sleep. Easy peasy! Well, that’s like telling a teenager not to masturbate.
— Near the end of the day, neither Sakuta nor Mai can be honest with each other. She doesn’t want him to worry, so she tells him that she’ll be fine. But obviously, she must be worried sick on the inside, and it wouldn’t hurt to continue leaning on the one friend that she has left. C’mon, no one will blame you for that. Meanwhile, Sakuta can’t bear to tell her that if he even sleeps a wink, he might forget all about her. Essentially, he can’t open up about his true feelings to the girl that he obviously likes. He can’t confide in her about his own fears and concerns, but what are friends for? As it turns out, this is just a microcosm of their larger issues.
— Forget the Schrodinger’s cat nonsense. The problem with these two kids is that they are running away from their problems. Sakuta won’t correct his classmates about those false hospitalization rumors, because he doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble to fight against the “atmosphere.” And likewise, Mai never did a thing to fight against her “atmosphere” either. Their inability to lean on each other at this very moment is just an extension of their larger issues. Life is sometimes difficult, messy, and painful, but rather than confronting it head-on — rather than standing up for themselves — they avoid it. And if you’re going to metaphorically deny the world, then the world will metaphorically forget about you as well.
— This is not really a story that you can take literally. It’s just, well, about teenagers coping with their teenage problems. That sounds like I’m being dismissive, but I’m not trying to be. After all, these adolescent feelings all play an important role in a person’s formative years.
— So we see Sakuta do the futile thing of downing a whole bunch of energy drinks. Sorry, man, but the body needs sleep, and insomnia is nothing you want to flirt with.
— Sakuta proceeds to write down his experiences with Mai, but we’ve already seen from the first episode that her name will also magically disappear from these pages.
— The next day, he leaves his home to see Mai waiting for him. This means he’s managed to make it through one night without sleeping, but obviously, Sakura is flirting with the impossible.
— At least she’s trying to be optimistic? But sometimes, I think optimism can be a mask that merely hides the the bare-naked honest truth. And sometimes, it’s better if the truth just comes out. Positivity can be a hindrance to progress if it allows a mental wound to fester.
— Sakuta gets a second wind when he bumps into Rio. Not only does the girl look well-rested, it seems as though she’s forgotten about Mai. The main character is thus more determined than ever to stay awake as long as he can, hoping that he might find an answer in random books about quantum physics. What a Sisyphean task.
— The guy eventually resorts to pricking himself with his pencil in order to stay awake. It’s nuts. On the plus side, at least Mai finally realizes that Sakuta is hurting himself.
— What can I say? I like their banter. I like the fact that Sakuta doesn’t blush like an idiot around the girl he obviously likes.
— Mai apparently has a half-sister. It’ll be lame if the imouto has a problem that Sakuta has to solve as well.
— Unfortunately, the guy eventually falls asleep in the middle of his studies. Is it because Mai’s presence is too comforting? Is it because he simply succumb to his body’s need for sleep? Nope, she literally drugged him. Yeah, I dunno about that. Cute girl and all, but you shouldn’t be drugging your love interest.
— Even in the end, she’s not being honest. Mai claims that she has always been alone, so losing Sakuta won’t be that difficult for her. Lies. All lies. It’s not even just about the romance. It’s about the friendship, too. You have to have a stone-cold heart to simply accept the loss of a friend. Obviously, Mai drugged Sakuta with good intentions. She didn’t want him to keep hurting himself for her sake. But, y’know, just say that! Well, I guess this is still too embarrassing for her to admit.
— It’s kinda weird how Mai’s existence is supposed disappear from Sakuta’s life, but her bunny costume remains. Technically, the garments belong to him now, but even so…
— See, I wish the show wouldn’t bother with these dumb harem-y jokes. It’s your sister, dude! Even as a joke, who talks about their sister that way?
— Sakuta looks over his journal, and like before, Mai’s name is gone. All of the important contextual clues remain, though. It shouldn’t take him too long to realize the error of his ways. More importantly, we don’t really have all that much time. This adaptation can’t devote too much attention to Mai’s arc and Mai’s arc alone.
— So I wonder what is happening right now from Mai’s perspective? Is she literally standing next to him trying to get his attention? Well, the guy acts as though he can sense something. He just can’t quite nail down what it is that he’s sensing.
— At school, Rio hands him yet another clue that should help him remember Mai. Less than ten minutes left in the episode…
— The letter flat out tells Sakuta to proclaim his love for Mai. Like hell, it’s not even being subtle about it. Well, I kinda knew he had to make some grand romantic gesture. This is it, I suppose.
— And of course, even his exam tries to help joggle the guy’s memories.
— Sakuta is literally in tears when he realizes who he’s forgotten. He runs out of his classroom and starts delivering his soliloquy. Of course, this is just the author speaking directly to us, but it’s also Sakuta’s epiphany.
— In front of the entire student body, Sakuta embarrassingly proclaims his love for Mai. Not only that, he’s interrupting people’s midterms so… yeah…
— But even then, it’s not embarrassing enough for people to acknowledge him. As a result, Sakuta starts rattling off all the things he wants to do with and to Mai. Sure enough, his classmates start poking their heads out the window to look at the raving lunatic.
— And just like that, Mai reappears before him. She’s mad at him for forgetting about her in the first place, but she also pretty much admits that she likes him back:
Mai: “No way I’ll forgive you.”
Sakuta: “Then I won’t let go until you do.”
Mai: “Then I’ll never forgive you for my whole life.”
It’s not a confession from her, but hey, this is more direct than “Isn’t the moon beautiful tonight?”
— So as I was watching this scene, I couldn’t help but wonder… well, what did she do? Yeah, Sakuta made a grand romantic gesture in order to make her reappear again. But what did she do to resolve her own self-inflicted problems? Is it that she’s finally honest with him about her feelings? Is it that she can be honest about her feelings for him in front of everybody? Is that it? Hm.
— To help the guy out in return, Mai tells the whole school that the rumors about Sakuta are untrue. I guess this should work, right? Going by this show’s fast and loose rules concerning reality…
— So Mai becomes the the official girlfriend after three episodes. Why even bother with a harem-ish setup for this series then? Why not just make Mai the only girl instead of the main girl? Anime things, I guess. Your male friends don’t have problems worth serializing.
— This is so corny.
— Looks the next arc will focus on this girl. Not only that, the show now wants to dabble in the topic of determinism. So uh, I once took a class on free will and determinism… but that was years ago. I’ve probably forgotten everything already. But that’s okay, because pretentious wannabe philosophers turn to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy the same way programmers turn to Stack Overflow.