Suzuka - 18: Present

Episode:18: Present
Yamato is shocked by Nana's questions about his relation with Honoka, and about his own behaviour so far. At least he comes up with one decision: He'll buy a present for Honoka-chan's birthday which will be this sunday. On their way to school the next morning Honoka asks Yamato to date her on saturday, but he claims to have promised to spend time with Hattori already [image1].
But what kind of present would make Honoka-chan happy? "A bouquet of red roses", Hattori suggests at school during the lunch break, claiming a 100% success rate so far. His aunt Ayano would rather want the person giving her a present to put his heart into choosing than requesting a specific item; Miho-chan suggests a plushie (as she considers Honoka "pretty girly"), but Yuuka tells him that a boyfriend who buys cheap gifts must be scum. So the only worthy present would be - a platinum necklace! Still confused, Yamato tries reading a girls' magazine about jewelry, only to be surprised by Asahina [image2] who scolds him for his weird behavior. As for Honoka's birthday present, Asahina suggests... a necklace. And Yamato asks her (of all people) to help him select one! Hesitatingly she agrees to meet him at Shinjuku tomorrow, far away from their school - so that none of their friends might happen to see them together.
At home Honoka is all desperate that Yamato apparently has no clue about her birthday. Saturday morning she goes shopping and reads her horoscope, telling her she might receive an "unexpected present from your boyfriend"; she has little hope for this to happen until Yuuka and Megumi enter the shop and Yuuka [image3] spills the beans about Yamato's present shopping for... "oh, shit - pretend you didn't hear that. And try to act surprised...". Honoka is relieved - and decides to buy ingredients to cook a great meal for her boy in return.
As expected, quality shopping with Asahina takes quite some time, and the longer they're together the more Asahina becomes uneasy about the event. Finally she wants Yamato to decide between the first and the fifth necklace she suggested - only to hear that he doesn't even remember how any of these looked like, and he would select the one she liked more! Asahina is annoyed that she has to remind him who they do this shopping for - and she's about to go home when suddenly... the newspaper woman (from previous episodes) tells them not to argue in front of their booth and interfere with her business! Which happens to be selling cheap jewelry. Yamato throws a glance at the offered items, selects a necklace and asks Asahina to put it on for a second. She complies, and... "kawaii!" [image4] Now that their shopping has successfully ended, Asahina decides to go home - right when Honoka happens to walk by on her way back from grocery shopping! And not only does Honoka observe these two together, she also notices Yamato's happy face, one that the boy never showed when talking to her.
Sunday morning Miho wants to see the necklace Yamato selected but it's already wrapped as present. When Yamato is about to go and deliver the item he runs into Asahina who asks him not to tell Honoka about their shopping together. Suddenly Yamato is losing his confidence about the present - but Asahina cheers him up: Yesterday he thought it was cute, right? After walking to the temple, Yamato rings the bell and hesitatingly hands over his present - and Honoka tells him how happy she is that he knows about her birthday! And then she tells him she knew about his present because Yuuka let it slip out, and she can't pretent to be surprised as she wants to be honest to him no matter what. Yamato is ashamed as he remembers his lie about spending time with Hattori... and while he's still struggling with confessing about shopping with Asahina, Honoka meets him halfway by telling him she observed them during their shopping and doesn't mind him selecting her present seriously with her help! Yamato is relieved that the shopping spree didn't backfire - and turning off his brain, he happily talks about all the things he did together with Asahina, babbling on and on, unaware of Honoka's face turning more and more gloomy. Finally Honoka interrupts him, rejects the gift, runs away [image5] and slams the door!
Yamato is shocked about his latest blunder and kills several hours of time in an arcade. But when he returns home Asahina is waiting at his door, asking him how Honoka liked the necklace... [image6]
(2005-11-07, Devil Doll:)
It's strange how the characters are changing in this powerful episode. Hattori is back in reasonable mode this time (the roses would have saved the day as no Asahina would have been required to get them), and asking Yamato whose feelings are most important is in fact a crucial question. Same goes for Ayano's advice about the right attitude when selecting a present. Even Megumi's performance was surprisingly good this time.

Yamato's behaviour is horrible. I've forgiven him a number of mistakes so far, but this guy doesn't have any clue about his girlfriend's feelings. Is there anything inside his head at all? Talking about being a good boyfriend and stuff... he completely missed the message from Nana who told him to look at Honoka, not to purchase an item and being proud of surprising his girlfriend. Honoka isn't so much happy about the present itself - she's more happy that Yamato knows about her birthday! She has no clue that it was actually Nana who told the boy about it. The idol was right: Yamato is "acting" as "the good boyfriend", he's just not aware of it himself. He's performing cultural ceremonies instead of using his own brain (no matter how many times Asahina tells him to do just that, and add Yuuka & Miho-chan to the list of helpers).

Honoka's performance in this fateful episode was about perfect. She accepted not getting the opportunity to date Yamato, she forgave his white lie about him spending time with Hattori, she tolerated Yamato shopping together with Asahina (while the combination of the lie and the shopping could well be considered Yamato cheating her with her rival!), she showed him that she will be honest with him (against Yuuka's advice), and thus she built Yamato the Golden Bridge to confess his shopping together with Asahina. That's as liberal as an inexperienced, insecure and jealous girlfriend can be, I guess. Tons of brownie points for Honoka-chan.
But finally there came the point when her defense crumbled down, as two hard strikes hit her within 24 hours. The first one was when she noticed how Yamato looked so much happier with Asahina than he ever looked when talking with her. As Honoka truely loves Yamato and wants to make him happy, she might come to the conclusion that she's the wrong girlfriend for him, even a bother, and keeps him from pursuing his happiness together with the girl he originally confessed to. The second one was Yamato jumping over the Golden Bridge too happily. Nana wanted Yamato to look at Honoka - but after handing over his present, Yamato turned away from his girlfriend, physically as well as mentally (talking about the shopping spree and completely ignoring how much that would hurt Honoka who asked him for a date on that very day!). Honoka may consider her own reaction a weakness - but in fact it was a strong move, showing Yamato how much he hurt her by his irresponsible behaviour. Returning the present was the right thing to do - perhaps as kind of a last warning: Yamato's next mistake in this relation will surely end it. The Honoka-Yamato relation is doomed, and I will feel relieved when it's over. Poor miko, you dreamed of a perfect boyfriend all these years and all you got is this blithering idiot. Get over it - and go out with Kobayakawa, things can only get better from here.

The most interesting character in this episode again was Asahina. I am surprised how much she improved since the previous episode. She shows all the traits that Yamato is missing - she's thoughtful and considerate. We don't know how much of this is based on her being afraid of homewrecking the relation... anyway she wanted to prevent Honoka from learning about the shopping (by selecting a far away location and impressing to hold his tongue upon Yamato), and she tried to make Yamato use his brain (three times! Selecting Shinjuku as location, asking him who they were doing this for, and the closing scene of this episode).
Unfortunately she's acting as Yamato's good friend at this stage, unaware of Honoka's feelings. Okay, it would ask too much of her to take her rival into consideration now that she's in love with Yamato herself, but if she did so then she could have prevented the whole blunder by one simple line: "Why didn't you ask Honoka what she wants? How can you dare to hurt her by asking me instead?" Here and now would have been the time to be cold to Yamato as to save his relation with the miko! If Asahina had done this (with the right intention) I would praise her now. I wonder if she's aware of it herself at the end of the episode - she might blame herself for having accepted the invitation.
With the Yamato-Honoka relation being a farce already, Asahina might soon be cleared for confessing. But would that actually be a good idea now? She must have been shocked when she heard that Yamato didn't care at all which present she would select for Honoka, and didn't even remember how they looked like! Come on, Asahina - it's still not too late to open your eyes and get a reasonable boyfriend instead of this loser.


Community Anime Reviews

anime mikomi org