If you think about it, Kokone’s life changed pretty quickly. From what we can tell, prior to meeting Yui she was mostly alone, her main interactions being with Todoroki, her chauffeur, as she kept to herself at school out of both shyness and a general uncertainty about how to act around other people. Then she met Yui, Mari, Pam, and Ran, became Cure Spicy, and all of a sudden her sad, solitary life became full of people and activities. And once people at school saw that, well, apparently it turned into a free-for-all of wanting to become friends with the quiet girl, because now they can see that it wasn’t snobbery that kept her isolated, it was just timidity and uncertainty. And since Kokone never really wanted to push the narrative that she was deliberately self-isolating, suddenly she’s faced with more potential friends (and possibly boyfriend aspirants) than she ever imagined.
To call that overwhelming might be to understate the matter, and that’s what really comes through in this episode. When their homeroom teacher announces that the school cafeteria will be closed for an inspection (which seems a little odd to me; why do that on a school day?) and suggests a class picnic, all of the people who have just been dying to get To know Kokone decide that this is their moment, and before the poor girl even knows what’s happening, three-quarters of the class is begging to share her picnic blanket. I’m not even exaggerating – when we see the actual picnic happening, there’s an honest-to-goodness line of students grouped into threes waiting for their chance to eat with her for what I assume is five minutes or less. It’s like a less abrasive version of those school fan clubs that pop up in anime from time to time; Everyone’s willing to wait their turn and there’s an obvious format to the whole thing, but clearly, this is a managed event. And just as obviously, Yui and Ran are worried about how Kokone will fare, because they’re keeping a close eye on the proceedings from their own picnic blanket a few yards away. (Well, Yui is. Ran keeps getting distracted by her lunch.)
That Yui and Ran are just quietly giving their friend backup is my favorite part of this episode. There’s no jealousy or sad (or fake-sad) comments about how they wanted to picnic with Kokone; They’re simply supportive of her having other friends and concerned that she doesn’t get overwhelmed by the outpouring. It’s a true show of friendship of a sort we don’t see represented often enough in children’s media, and while I’m sure that they’re a little sad that they can’t eat lunch with Kokone, they’re mostly just ready to do whatever she needs them to in the moment. That means helping her to make the best potato salad sandwich and letting her know that they’re nearby if she needs them, and it’s a really beautiful way to show how close the girls are.
I think that’s why Cure Spicy gets to be the one to fully defeat Narcistoru’s Motto Ubauzo this time, as well. Kokone is learning that she can stand on her own two feet without being alone, something that Todoroki also helps her to understand when he takes her out for a solo hot dog as a means of giving her time to process her day. Being friends doesn’t mean living in each other’s pockets, and as Kokone comes to really understand that, she gets stronger as Cure Spicy as well. She even punches the monster à la Cure Precious, a very nice demonstration of using her friend’s strength alongside her own. Even Black Pepper is fine with not having to step in this time, because this is Cure Spicy’s moment, and she deserves it.
Ran’s turn looks like it’ll be next in episode sixteen. She narrowly avoided an emotional blow this time by not quite getting that her favorite food blogger is actually Todoroki (which may have been as devastating as Kokone learning that picnics are not The Sound of Music And Takumi realizing that the girls were geeking out over Todoroki and not Black Pepper), but it doesn’t look like she can avoid people misunderstanding her outgoing personality forever. But that’s part of what makes this show so good: everyone gets a chance to grow and develop as a character, and even Narcistoru can be right sometimes – that Bundoru gesture is kind of dumb.
Delicious Party♡Precure is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.