The only cute things about this show are the cats.
— Sakuta returns home to find Cute Rio cooking curry in a lab coat. And of course it’s curry. If you watch nothing but anime, you’d think that curry is the country’s national dish.
— Cute Rio says she simply followed the directions exactly. That’s why I’ll never understand it when someone tells me that they can’t cook. If you can’t come up with new dishes, that’s fine. That means you’re a bad chef, but this is true of most of us. But if you can’t cook, that just means you’re too careless to even follow written instructions. Sure, some recipes are harder than others (e.g. souffle), but anyone can make a curry.
— Cute Rio confesses that she used to hate her body, because she developed before other girls and got unwanted attention from the boys in her class. And because she hated herself and her image, any attention she got — both good and bad — served as a form of validation. That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s something distasteful about panning across her literally naked body without any irony. Like c’mon.
— Okay, so like I thought, Cute Rio is suffering from some sort of cognitive dissonance.
— At the same time, however, I still maintain that Sexy Rio’s selfies aren’t all that risque. Maybe the anime is pulling its punches or maybe people are just that uptight. These days, Instagram is practically softcore porn. Cleavage shots are whatever.
— Anyways, Cute Rio wants Sexy Rio to stop uploading pictures, but if only it was that easy. She’s going to have to… face herself!!! Well, I wish. Instead, we’ll just talk it out like all the previous arcs. Sakuta even says that this is what he plans to do:
— It’s a shame that Mai’s story had to come first. I mean, I like Rio more than Tomoe, but I still don’t really care about her story all that much.
— So what’s the big deal with Mai? Well, her agency doesn’t want her to date, which is to be expected. I don’t agree with it, but fans have been known to go nuts when they find out that their favorite stars or idols are dating. There’s only one word to describe those people: pathetic.
— For now, however, Sakuta tells her it would be wise for them to lay low. After all, she’s only started getting back into show business again. And if you want to be cynical, he’s a bit too busy solving other girls’ problems to worry about having a girlfriend right now.
— Personally speaking, when I had a girlfriend back in high school, I was all about her. No one was going to tell me to take a “strategic retreat.” But hey, that was me. Maybe Sakuta is just too mature for school.
— When Sakuta meets up with Sexy Rio the next day, he pushes him to choose between her and Cute Rio. Both of them seem to argue that the world doesn’t need two Rios. Maybe. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s still just one Rio. This is kinda like someone who has two or more personas residing within them, but in Rio’s case, her two personas occupy two separate physical locations. Still two sides of the same coin, if you catch my drift.
— Finally, Sexy Rio gets the attention she both wants and doesn’t want. It was bound to happen sooner or later. So Sakuta jumps to her defense, and the girl clings to him as he walks her home. When they get to her home, Sexy Rio even invites him to stay the night! No wonder he doesn’t mind putting his own girlfriend on the backburner. Our hero still wants to play the knight-in-shining-armor, but Mai no longer needs to be saved. So he jumps from one girl to the next, trying to convince us over and over that he would really rather be with Mai, but it just can’t be helped! They need me! The other girls really, truly need me!
— And once again, we see a Rio naked in a tub.
— Instead of going to sleep, Sexy Rio confesses that she was also afraid to lose her two friends. Yuuma got himself a girlfriend, so naturally, he would spend more time with Saki, right? Then Sakuta went and technically got himself a girlfriend! As a result, Pre-split Rio was afraid that both boys would abandon her. Sigh… there’s only so much that one person can deal with. I’m talking about myself, by the way. This show is slowly becoming exhausting to watch, because we have to sit here and listen to these characters open up about their self-doubts week after week after week. There’s no reprieve. There’s no sunshine to counteract the gloom and doom. As soon as one problem gets solved, another one starts up. What this anime needs is the ability to give itself a break every now and then. What this anime needs is just an episode or two where these characters would just chill. If that means cutting out one of these god forsaken arcs, so be it. Let these characters breathe and be happy before plunging headfirst into yet another girl’s litany of adolescent insecurities.
— Well, Sakuta already knows how much Yuuma cares about Rio as a friend. Hell, we saw this firsthand in last week’s episode. Yuuma told Sakuta to let him know immediately if Rio was in trouble. So what does our hero do? He calls his best guy friend up and makes up a story. Sure enough, Yuuma comes flying over to their designated meeting spot. Blah blah blah, the girl learns that she has true friends. Cool. So about those self-image problems…
— They’re now lighting sparklers on the beach. As if curry wasn’t cliche enough… what’s next? Hitting up a summer festival while wearing a yukata? Sure enough, the trio makes plans to visit the upcoming fireworks festival together. Yawn.
— Sexy Rio does bring up a good point: she got to spend the night hanging out with her two best friends, but what about Cute Rio? According to Sexy Rio, Cute Rio hates her, right? Well, how is she going to feel when she sees this photo?
— When Sakuta wakes up, he learns that Cute Rio left and still hasn’t returned. Good job, dude. To make this all feel even more dramatic, it’s storming wildly outside. As a result, we get to watch our hero bike through the rain for one of his girls.
— Well, he eventually finds her hiding out in their homeroom. Right off the bat, Sakuta invites Cute Rio to accompany him and Yuuma to the fireworks festival. Unfortunately, Cute Rio wants to give up on herself instead of fighting for her right to exist. She rants about how Sakuta is so insensitive to her feelings, but this is obviously stupid. After all, he just raced through the rain to find her.
— And sure enough, the guy passes out from being all wet and cold. I mean, I doubt it works like that, but drama, man, drama. We need the guy to endanger himself to ratchet up the stakes.
— Despite everything, the guy is still rewarded with his girlfriend when he finally wakes up.
— So the guy leaves his hospital room and starts talking to Cute Rio in the waiting area. Where is Mai right now? Is she just hanging back in his hospital room? Tidying up his bed? Fluffing his pillow?
— Sakuta also doesn’t have any grand advice to give Cute Rio either. He simply tells her that it’s okay for her to hate herself. Still, this works.
— The girl eventually tells him that she would like to accompany them to the fireworks festival. He points her towards a payphone and tells Rio that she knows what she must do. So she rings herself up, and tells herself that she wants to go to the fireworks festival together. And just like that, the two Rios become one again. Cute Rio literally just disappeared in front of Sakuta’s eyes.
— Well, at least Rio didn’t drag this out. Unless there’s a plot twist awaiting us, it looks like she got two episodes to the other girls’ three. How many is Shoko going to get, though? We still have five episodes left, so I hope some middle schooler doesn’t get all of them.
— Towards the end of the night, it appears as though Rio summons up the courage to confess her feelings to Yuuma, but she already knows that he’ll turn her down. As a result, she tells him to make up with Saki, and the guy agrees. The girl proceeds to wipe away her tears, but she accepts this outcome. She’s just happy that her friends still need her.
— It’s tempting to feel sorry for Rio, but that’s only because we never get to see Saki’s good side. We only get to see when she’s being irrationally jealous and overprotective of Yuuma. Personally, that’s a dealbreaker for me, but shrug. Maybe she’s a much better person when she isn’t onscreen.
— I can’t say I loved these past two episodes, though. I’m not even bothered by this show’s dialogue. Like whatever, even if you convince me that it’s as bad as Mamet, I don’t even dislike Mamet. But the cliches, man. Maybe I’m mistaken about this, but this arc just felt even more trite than the previous two. The other problem is that it felt like we never truly addressed Rio’s self-image problems. What? Some creep tried to meet up with her and this scared her straight? Self-image problems defeated? C’mon, man. Rio basically had two issues, and they went and focused on the lame one (“FRIENDS ARE 4EVAR!!!”).
— Oh wait, we get to meet a blonde girl after the credits, and judging by the title for next week’s episode — “Sister Panic” — she’s probably related to Mai. Great, yet another girl for Sakuta to save…