Usually, when a girl needs help (which is pretty much all the time), Mai will step aside so that Sakuta can focus all his time and (emotional) energy on said girl. So are we going to follow the same holding pattern with Mai’s sister? I’d honestly be pretty disappointed if that ends up being the case. Like I’ve said previously, I would like our couple to work as a team for once, especially since a relative is now involved. But we shall see…
— At the start of the episode, we learn that the new school term has begun, but Mai is nowhere to be found. Not only that, this comes as a surprise to Sakuta. Okay, I understand that he doesn’t have a cellphone, so she can’t exactly text him. But does the guy not have a computer either? Can she not email him? Can she not let him know ahead of time that she won’t show up to school? Some aspects of this show are just really hard to swallow.
— When Sakuta gets to Mai’s apartment, he sees the girl out on the streets. Naturally, he calls out to her, but she doesn’t recognize him at all. That’s when a blonde girl walks up and steps on his foot. Guess what? She’s Mai. What does this mean? Well, the two sisters have somehow swapped bodies. Again, why wouldn’t she warn Sakuta ahead of time? Why wouldn’t she give him a heads up? Is she physically unable to?
— Apparently, Mai has an entire apartment all to herself. Well, I guess she’s pretty rich since she’s a star.
— Her half-sister Nodoka is an idol, so I guess show business runs in the family. Seems kinda tiring, no? No one gets to have a normal childhood…
— Anyways, the girl ran away from home, came to her big sis’s place, then the body swap thing happened. Is it because she wishes she could be as independent as Mai? Nah, that would be too predictable.
— Mai tells her sister that they will just have to make do for now, i.e. live each other’s lives. Another reason why I would never choose the life of show business. If I ever need to take some personal time, I just do so. But I guess a famous actress or an idol would have far too many obligations to fulfill.
— Well, it turns out Nodoka’s schedule is packed, so Mai will be pretty busy… again. So far, it looks like Sakuta might be spending a lot of 1-on-1 time with the imouto. Mai even asks him to walk Nodoka to school. Sigh. Detective/Therapist Sakuta to the rescue.
— Speaking of imouto, looks like Kaede is still broken. Maybe we can RMA her…
— Luckily, Nodoka doesn’t have to worry about fitting in with Mai’s friends.
— Both sisters don’t have friends, so they might be pretty similar even though they don’t even live in the same household. Maybe they’ve swapped bodies because Nodoka thinks Mai has it better than her. Maybe she has an inferiority complex. Mai even reveals to her boyfriend that their mothers have been engaged in some sort of proxy war. Ah, parents living vicariously through their kids. Few things in life are more pathetic than that.
— I’m sure Sakuta will run to Rio at some point and ask for advice. I just wonder what silly scientific or philosophical concept gets roped in this time.
— Sakuta wonders if it’s okay for Mai to just board a train on her own in an idol’s body, but apparently, Nodoka isn’t very famous. Looking more and more like lil’ sis is a bit envious. If you look up to someone that much, you might as well become them. The problem is that she’s probably too ashamed to admit this. Or maybe she even hates herself or letting it get this far. It’s hard to go from idolizing someone to hating them, especially if they’re family.
— Sweet, it’s kooky philosophy time.
— Aw, lame. Rio simply tells Sakuta that all Nodoka would have to do is become famous. Well, obviously it’s not that easy.
— If an inferiority complex is truly the culprit, then Nodoka needs to attend her mental health. In other words, she needs a therapist. Unfortunately, that would make too much sense. So instead, we’ll have her sister’s boyfriend play the therapist.
— In the meantime, Sakuta continues to say more inappropriate things, especially to a girl who hardly knows him.
— So while relaxing on the beach, Sakuta manages to hit a nerve. Nodoka can deny it, but we know it’s true. Looks like Sakuta is moving quick, though. Maybe we’ll get lucky. Maybe Nodoka’s story will wrap itself up in a single episode. Well, probably not. Like Rio, it’ll probably take two episodes.
— Afterwards, Nodoka suddenly tells Sakuta that she doesn’t have the guts to face her sister. As a result, yet another girl wants to sleep overnight at this guy’s house. Hilarious.
— Well, Mai is nearby anyways, so the truth comes out. Nodoka’s mother gets on her case because Mai is more famous. Everything was fine when Mai took her break from show business, but when she came back, Nodoka’s mother became a nightmare again.
— Nodoka then begins to whine about Mai becoming instantly popular and stealing the spotlight. Ugh…
— I’ll just be honest: the girl needs to stop being so entitled. It’s really difficult for me to empathize with someone like Nodoka. Look, she already belongs to a small and very exclusive group. After all, most of us don’t have the chops to become idols. Most of us can’t dance that well, sing that well, or hell, just even be attractive enough to be interviewed on TV. C’mon, the girl needs to get a grip. She already lives a very privileged life.
— This is perfect, actually. Since this is a show all about emotional teen problems, nothing could exemplify this more than one rich and famous girl being envious of another one. The cherry on top is the fact that they’re related.
— Of course, I understand that she can’t help how she feels. Just because there are bigger problems in the world, this doesn’t change the fact that Nodoka feels like crap about her current situation. That’s fair. We all have our issues. But not every story deserves to be told, and frankly, this is one of them. Nodoka’s problems are real. I won’t say that they’re not. But at the same time, they’re just not very compelling. Let’s say my girlfriend dumps me and I’m heart-broken. Should I make a big dramatic story out of it? Of course not. I’d argue that the same thing applies to Nodoka.
— From a broader narrative standpoint, this is what I mean when I say that this show is exhausting. If they had taken Mai’s arc and just focused on it… made it into a romantic movie, perhaps, then that would’ve been perfect by itself. Okay, maybe not perfect, but good enough. But after three straight stories about adolescent nonsense — each one being weaker than the last plus having no breaks in-between — I’m all outta fucks to give, my friends. All out of it. By the time we roll around to the fourth girl, I’m done. My emotional battery is all tapped out. Aw, your sister is more famous than you? Boo-hoo.
— In return, Mai also admits that she used to hate Nodoka as well. Let’s just get all of our feelings out into the open, because it sounds like our heroine has issues to work out as well. Well, nothing suggests that you can’t suffer from this adolescent nonsense more than once.
— I just fear it’s going to be one of those stupid conclusions where the only thing lil’ sis wants is for her big sis to acknowledge her or whatever. Please don’t be that trite.
— Instead of letting Nodoka sleep over at a stranger’s place, Mai will shack up with her boyfriend. Makes sense. Creepy imouto won’t be happy, though.
— Next, we see a montage of the two sisters living the other person’s life while sad music plays. Looks like they’re pulling this off even if they are harboring negative feelings at the moment. For now, at least. Look, I can’t be an astrophysicist just because I want to be one. Nodoka might want to be a famous actress like Mai, but… y’know, you kinda have to take acting classes for that.
— They also get to see what the other person deals with on a day-to-day basis. For instance, Mai now realizes that Nodoka’s mother is truly psychotic. Or y’know, one of those helicopter parents. Tomato, to-mah-to.
— Those silly hats look so stupid. But I’m biased. Not once have I ever found anything appealing about idols.
— Meanwhile, Shoko continues to visit the cats. Sakuta asks if the girl has an older sister, but she says no. Dude, just accept it. You fell in love with a young girl. She probably just lost her memories at some point.
— One day, Sakuta just happens to come across Nodoka working on set. What a coincidence, huh? More importantly, the girl isn’t doing so hot, but somehow, nobody notices but the hero. I imagine that the pressure has finally gotten to her. She wants to be famous like her sister, but she doesn’t recognize that her sister has put in the hard work. Sure, it helps to be born beautiful, but every actor has to hone his or her craft. An idol who has never had to act wouldn’t just be able to fit in seamlessly after studying the script.
— Finally, when she starts visibly freaking out and faints, people finally come to her aid. Who needs enemies when you have such an attentive team around you?
— Sadly, Sakuta doesn’t have a phone, so he can’t even message Mai and immediately tell her that her imouto is in trouble. So instead, he had to wait for her to come to him to relay the bad news.
— At school, Sakuta tells Yuuma that he would like to know what it feels like to have a perfect big sister. Yuuma can’t personally relate, but his girlfriend can.
— After school, the hero gets a spare key to his girlfriend’s place in order to check up on Nodoka. Mai still can’t do it herself. Yay, now she’s immature as well!
— Sure enough, when he gets up there, Nodoka asks if Mai had said anything to him about her. Since Mai can’t put on her big sis pants, Sakuta ends up lying and telling Nodoka that her big sister was confident in her.
— Boy, imouto is such a slob.
— So while Nodoka is taking a bath, the episode ends with Sakuta taking a peek at exactly what Mai told him not to look at. And of course, the ED rolls as soon as he’s about to open the damn cabinets. I guess that’s your cliffhanger. I hope there’s literally a skeleton in her closet. You heard me. Literally.