Welp, you heard her! If you’re gonna do it, at least try to keep it a secret!
— When Sakuta gets to school, he spots Tomoe and her friends giggling about him. Needless to say, his stunt near the end of last week’s episode really changed a lot of people’s perceptions about him. But because he tried so hard to defend his “girlfriend,” he now worries that he and Tomoe might have a hard time calling off this charade.
— Nevertheless, Sakuta’s relationship with Mai continues. It’s just behind closed doors. In fact, even she’s starting to get a little anxious as her boyfriend continues to pretend-date Tomoe. As a result, she offers to tutor Sakuta in her bunny suit. Honestly, I would find it pretty hard to concentrate on my studies if my girlfriend wore something that revealing in front of me, but that’s what Mai intended anyways: “I just thought giving you a carrot every so often was better.”
— The next day, Sakuta accompanies Tomoe as she shops for a bathing suit. Near the end of this “date,” the guy finally comes right out and asks her how she intends for their “relationship” to fizzle out. Tomoe has it all planned out. She’ll get mad at him for still being hung up on Mai, slap him, then storm off. Pretty dramatic. But first, they must have a date at the beach. Therein lies the problem. Even if you’re just pretending, it’s kind of hard to dump someone after what is obviously a fun, romantic date.
— Finally, the day before summer break has arrived. This is also the same day that Sakuta’s fake relationship with Tomoe is supposed to come to an end.
— The guy’s self-conscious about his scars, so he thinks twice about going shirtless at the beach. I guess I can’t blame him.
— Tomoe also ends up looking pretty conservative. Then again, she has a pretty child-like build, so this is for the best.
— We then get to watch as these two do a bunch of generic beach-related activities. Y’know, eating corn, making sand castles, getting brain freeze from shaved ice, blah blah blah. Horrible, miserable beach-related activities. Ah, don’t mind me. I just hate sand. It’s coarse and it gets everywhere.
— Near the end of the day, Tomoe decides to end their faux relationship with a handshake instead of dramatically slapping Sakuta like she had originally planned. She also wears a smile as she tells him that she couldn’t possibly hurt him after all that he’s done for her. Which is true… in a way… but obviously, the girl’s not being honest about her true feelings.
— I mean, if she’s in love with him, which is obviously the case, then this resolution isn’t at all what she wants. But since Tomoe seems so happy on the surface, you can’t blame Sakuta for assuming that the girl has her emotions under control. The audience knows better, though. C’mon, this is a show about adolescence syndrome. Of course we know better.
— Sure enough, when Sakuta wakes up the next day, it’s not actually the next day at all. He finds himself right back in a time loop.
— First things first, our protagonist tries to confront the Laplace’s demon, but Tomoe claims ignorance. She has no clue what Sakuta is talking about.
— Whenever Sakuta’s stumped, he always runs to Rio. At this point, there’s no reason not to, because it seems like she always has all the answers. This time, the bespectacled girl suggests that Tomoe is lying. She’s trying to relive the beach date over and over in hopes that she gets a different outcome, but obviously, she wouldn’t want to admit that to Sakuta.
— So for this loop and the very next one, the protagonist doesn’t seem to change all that much. They still do the same beach-related activities. At most, all we see is his sand castle going from normal to elaborate to extraordinary. Is he stumped? More or less. On the fourth go-around, Sakuta has a very telling conversation with Yuuma.
— On the train, Sakuta poses a hypothetical that isn’t really a hypothetical: what would he do if there was another girl who was in love with him? This is true for both of them, isn’t it? Tomoe likes Sakuta and Rio likes Yuuma. Both guys have girlfriends. But for now, we’ll just focus on the first pairing. Kunimi admits that he’d have a hard time tackling this situation. After all, what right does he have to force his not-so-secret admirer to reveal her feelings? Luckily, each person’s situation is different, and in Tomoe’s case, I would argue that you need to rip the band-aid off.
— At the school assembly, Tomoe notices Sakuta looking at her, so she smiles at him. He simply continues staring back with dead eyes. Well, this is the fourth time he’s reliving the same day. It must be pretty tiring.
— So this time, Sakuta doesn’t accompany Tomoe to the beach. Instead, he drags her to Enoshima, and we get to see them do, uh, Enoshima-related things.
— At one point, he has them fill out one of those votive tablets for relationships. I guess you use these to pray for good luck or something, which ends up making Tomoe feel particularly anxious. Sakuta bluntly counters, however, that only one of them is lying.
— Finally, Sakuta takes the girl aside and confronts her about the lying. He knows she isn’t unaware of the looping. He also knows that she has feelings for him. She needs to just come right out and admit it. He also pointedly tells her that his feelings for her won’t change no matter how many times they relive this day. This last one stings. It stings a lot. After all, her feelings for him just keep increasing with every loop.
— The girl reveals that she’s not selfish. Or rather, she doesn’t want to be selfish. Tomoe confesses that despite her feelings, she truly understands that Sakuta doesn’t love her. As a result, although a part of her doesn’t want to move on from him, another part of her does. A part of her doesn’t want them to be just friends, but another part of her does. It’s just like how she doesn’t want him to call her cute, but at the same time, she does. That scene on the beach? Oh yeah, it wasn’t a throwaway.
— Despite how boring last week’s episode was, I think the contrast between these two kids is actually pretty interesting. On the one hand, you have Sakuta who can read a room but won’t take a hint. It’s not that he can’t take a hint. He just won’t. That’s an important distinction. What’s commendable about him is that he’s emotionally and mentally strong enough to ignore all the whisper around him. So the popular guy gives him a dirty look in the morning. Does Sakuta care? No. So people on the train will gossip behind his back. Again, does Sakuta care? Absolutely not.
— On the other hand, we have Tomoe who is the exact opposite of Sakuta. She always tries to read the room. She always tries to take a hint. Even when she has to go to the nurse’s office when she doesn’t feel well, she still worries how that might look to her friends. Hell, this whole predicament started simply because she couldn’t turn that jerk down. She was afraid that rejecting his advances would make her the class pariah. This is a girl who constantly tries to adapt to the world around her so much that she rarely gets to be true to herself. Even now, she’s doing the same thing. So the guy you like doesn’t return your feelings. That sucks, but at the same time, learning to accept rejection is a part of growing up. As such, it has come time for her to learn a thing or two from her senpai.
— But she isn’t alone. In a way, Sakuta has had to grow up too. He got himself in this mess because Tomoe reminded him of his sister. He felt the need to help the girl when it was never his business in the first place. So in the end, Sakuta also realized that he had to stop protecting Tomoe. He had to confront her. This is why he’s being so blunt. This is why he’s shooting her down and leaving no wiggle room.
— In fact, we go all the way back to the very beginning of this whole mess.
— Once again, Sakuta asks Mai out, and she coyly agrees to date him. He also asks her how she feels about him, and she responds with a kiss on his cheek. So that’s something.
— When the guy leaves the room, he spots Tomoe now having the courage to outright reject that popular guy without any help. She even adds that she has feelings for someone who is very obviously Sakuta. Well, she’s not lying.
— More importantly, the girl has accepted that it’s okay to be true to herself every once in a while. Yeah, she might be hated for turning down the “hot” guy, but true friends wouldn’t ditch you over something so petty.
— Plus, Tomoe can always make new friends.
— Sakuta wonders why he of all people would get stuck in Tomoe’s loop. Rio suggests that quantum entanglement might be the culprit. More specifically, because they kicked each other’s butts, they became “entangled.” Yeah, sure, whatever.
— Afterwards, almost everything that happened in the previous two episodes ended up happening again. The only difference, of course, is that Sakuta isn’t pretending to date Tomoe. The status quo has been restored…
— …but for how long? Right before the credits roll, Sakuta and Mai bump into a girl trying to protect a poor kitten from the rain. And when she introduces herself, it turns out she shares the same name as Sakuta’s first love. So she’s back? Well, it doesn’t look like she recognizes him. Either way, his relationship with Mai isn’t going to get anywhere if these girls just keep coming out of the woodwork and throwing themselves at him.