(Spoilers in this review)
Yuma, Takeda, Hotaru, and Fujiwara head to a ski resort together. Yuma and Takeda are both nervous over how they’ll potentially sleep together during the trip, but nothing of the sort happens during the first night. Yuma instead gets groped by Hotaru, tells Hotaru that she’s happy that they’re best friends, and falls asleep before a wistful Hotaru snuggles in close with the sleeping girl.
On the following day, Hotaru convinces Yuma to teach her how to snowboard. However, she kisses a defenseless Yuma, which is noticed by Fujiwara as he just so happened to be snowboarding down the adjacent slope. The episode ends with Fujiwara seemingly blackmailing Hotaru to sleep with him as Yuma and Takeda spend some time together in the snow.
I have to give props to how the ending of the episode plays out. Hotaru has been very inconsiderate of Hotaru’s feelings on many occasions and her callousness has finally backfired on her. Furthermore, the contrast between the two couples are accentuated to a degree: Yuma and Takeda are enjoying themselves with friendly outdoor activities and are surrounded by shiny sparkles whereas Hotaru and Fujiwara are inside a cramped room with fading sunlight and about to partake in more racy activities. That’s what viewers assume, at least, since Fujiwara starts taking off some clothes and begins talking about how Hotaru and Fujiwara are probably going to have sex later.
Other than that, this episode only served to make Hotaru even more unlikable. Rape jokes are not okay. Saying “Oh, you let me do that so it was okay” is not acceptable. She’s even hypocritical by saying it’s convenient for Hotaru to say that Yuma is the one forcing herself on her. It’s not like Hotaru claims that she’s helping Yuma practice for her first time with Takeda as she essentially molests the pink-haired girl, right?
Be that as it may, the series is intent on pushing at least some of the blame onto Yuma. The OP takes care to establish that Yuma is noticeably taller than Hotaru. As a result, the OP, when coupled with Hotaru’s statement in which she states that Yuma could have easily fended off Hotaru if she really wanted to, makes it seem like Yuma subconsciously enjoyed the physical and intimate attention Hotaru was giving her.
In real life, that sort of excuse wouldn’t fly. In anime, however, all of these instances (don’t forget how Yuma felt betrayed when Hotaru started dating boys!) collectively point to the obvious conclusion that Yuma actually wants Hotaru deep down inside. What else could it be?
On an unrelated note, I could relate to some of the events that happen in this episode. Much like how Yuma lied to her parents about the people accompanying her during this ski trip, I took a Greyhound (a long-distance bus) to see my girlfriend-at-the-time, who lived over 450 miles away, without my parents’ knowledge. Recently, I also fell head-over-heels for someone, but I realized that they were only looking for a no-string-fling and I consequently decided to walk away. Meanwhile, Hotaru continues her relentless physical assault on an uncomfortable Yuma with little regard for Yuma’s feelings.
I often resonate with the characters who perform less than savory actions. That’s the strength of these theatrical series that feature heavily controversial characters in scandalous situations, isn’t it? You can’t help but condemn, but you also can’t help but relate. Maybe that’s only applicable to people who have made questionable decisions, wahaha. In any case, it’s working on me, sort of.
This is the part of the review where I am supposed to criticize the characterization, but it’s actually been progressing nicely. Fujiwara is steadily become the scummy boyfriend archetype the viewers all love to hate. Takeda is the lustful boy who means well and seems like a saint when compared to Fujiwara.
As for Hotaru, she clearly has ulterior motives in mind whenever she sexually harasses Yuma. She also has a strange glint in her mind whenever Yuma stresses that they’re just best friends. Perhaps she’s actually in love with Yuma and wants to momentarily escape from the reality that she’s dating a rude punk? But why date him in the first place? She’s full of mysteries, but that doesn’t mean she’s a likeable character.
I’ve already stated what I think of Yuma’s characterization. This way the series avoids queerbaiting since it’s implied that Yuma does like Hotaru, but Hotaru’s “explanations” are quite dreadful.
The characters are being steadily fleshed out and the drama is thickening, but I still feel like this series is just cheap smut.