This episode seemed almost tailor-made to address the issues I raised in my review of episode 2: it made me care about characters other than Mashiro. If anything, Mashiro was just a McGuffin this episode, an object yearned for and fought over but without any real agency of her own. Or perhaps the wise but inscrutable monk living on the mountain, whose sage advice might change your world but who will never come down and have a beer with you in the bar. The point is, they showed that they can make a good episode that focuses on someone other than Mashiro.
The episode opened with a Sorata shower scene. Hey, always gotta appreciate a shower scene, right? It’s the law. Afterward, he overheard Jin talking on the phone to some anime production company that wanted to hook Misaki up with a scriptwriting team to really unlock the power of her animation, have her ditch her current writer (Jin) who’s only holding her back. Poor Jin. They hinted at it in the previous episode, with his line about not knowing how a genius thinks, but the guy’s got inferiority issues. And even worse, it looks like they’re justified. It seems like maybe he really is holding Misaki back – certainly the anime company seems to think so. Maybe the only reason he’s a professional writer at all is that he has a personal connection with a genius animator. Maybe he has nothing interesting to say and would be doing the world a favor if he quit writing and went to work in a factory – and, especially, he’d be doing his partner Misaki a favor. Maybe she’s just being nice to him, pretending they’re equal partners, because she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Yikes.
So of course the whiny child Sorata makes the conversation all about him, and how he feels bad about not knowing what to do with his life, and how even Mashiro who he thought was worse than him was actually a famous painter, and how he is useless compared to the other residents of Sakurasou and has never made anything. Which, hey, that sucks, but compared to knowing what to do with your life and not being good enough to do it, compared to making something that nobody wants? Jin understandably reacts harshly, telling him “you’re planning to leave Sakurasou anyway, right? Put up or shut up”.
If you don’t let people spew their phony spiels, you’ll find yourself without much to talk about. Just a friendly warning.
Sorata’s upset at being called out as a hypocrite, so he takes furious action. His two excuses for staying at Sakurasou are that he has to look after his cats and he has to look after Mashiro, so he puts up flyers trying to find someone to adopt his cats, and he rudely brushes off Mashiro when she asks him to go on a date with her. (As research for her manga, of course… of course.)
How could you say no to that? I don’t care if your tsundere osananajimi is watching you like a hawk. Man, people do some strange things in defense of their hypocrisies.
Afterward, Misaki comes to Sorata in a panic that Mashiro and Jin are going to be going on a date. She’s worried about losing Jin to Mashiro, and he begins to regret brushing Mashiro off when he thinks about the notorious womanizer Jin taking Mashiro to a love hotel. (I wonder why Misaki doesn’t worry about Jin’s notorious womanizing? Maybe it’s that Mashiro is Jin’s “type” and so she can imagine the relationship becoming serious.) The two of them decide to stalk the two of them on their date. Jin and Mashiro go together to the mall, they pick out nice accessories together, and generally seem pretty close. (As research for her manga, of course… of course.) Misaki gets all teary-eyed over this and runs off home, which makes me wonder what she expected to happen stalking the guy she loves as she goes on a date with a pretty girl. Sorata has a more proactive response:
Research! That’s what I tell my advisor, anyway.
After a hilarious scene of Sorata getting utterly owned by Jin, Sorata wakes up nursing his bruises… in a love hotel with Mashiro! (As research for her manga, of course… of course.) Jin had “left the rest to him”. What a generous fellow! Mashiro begins stripping down to take a shower as research for her manga, and Sorata starts lecturing her about being more careful about being naked in a love hotel with a guy, but she turns it around on him and starts laying into him about how he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing and even though he said he was too busy to go out with her now he’s stalking her and attacking Jin and what the heck man? Sorata is laid low by this argument, because he does not know what he’s doing, with his life, and so he is forced to admit Mashiro is right. I think he’s looking at this the wrong way, though. That sort of proactive running down stairs to attempt assault-and-battery is not a symptom of his problem, it’s the solution. You don’t cure the sort of telic malaise Sorata has by googling “what should I do with my life -drugdealer -prostitute“, you cure it by finding something that rips through your soul with trails of white-hot fire and compels you to act before you think and do stupid things like attack your good buddy Jin.
This was a good episode, and it has given me a little more faith in some of the side characters. I’m still not sure about the hard-drinking teacher or the tsundere osananajimi, though. The maid AI is cool.