If you look at episode 4’s title, “Would you please go out with me…?” And got a bit of a twisty feeling in your gut, then consider yourself at home because the plot has thrown a wrench in the larger “will Nagi and Erika get married or not?” plot that’s kinda got me a little excited.
Nagi, in a very satisfying scene, has bested Segawa in the school exams, becoming the top student in school for his entire class. Segawa of course isn’t going to let that go unchallenged, and the pair continue to try and best one another by being first at all sorts of things. It’s a solid demonstration of how similar they are, backset by Cuckoo’s really enjoyable BGM.
It’s here that I started to think about cohesion, a key element in making romantic relationships work, and that all-important event in all romance fiction that makes that cohesion undeniably apparent. It’s the moment where characters get together, stick together, and you want them to stay permanently stuck, through thick or thin and everything in-between. In many ways, this episode has already started building the foundations towards that moment with Nagi and Erika: there’s enough chemistry and goodwill between the two carried over from episode 3 that it’s kind of difficult to remember that they loathed each other’s company just a few episodes ago.
But then there’s the front half with Nagi and Segawa, which is admittedly quite tantalizing since they’re both in a similarly sucky situation created wholly by their parents. It’s hard to deny that Nagi x Segawa has appeal, even though the show is very much so telegraphing Nagi x Erika. I’m a fence-sitter in this, and honestly, I want to see A Couple of Cuckoos tango with the “will they, won’t they” of it all before that cohesion sticks for real.
Now, there’s one snag in all this that I don’t think A Couple of Cuckoos is going to commit to, but is definitely gesturing towards in a very frustrating way – and that’s the fact that Sachi very obviously has a crush on her brother who’s not a blood brother. I dearly hope that’s not a direction that the show moves towards, not because of any particular moral objects, but because I’d just like for siblings – whether blood-related or bonded by benign family in general – to be just that: family, without this weird peripheral. Thankfully, this teasing gets passed over quickly for focusing on Erika and Sacchi as biological sisters and a few cute scenes between Nagi and Sachi as siblings who get access to things like garbage disposals and fancy sinks.
Episode 4 is a decidedly light-hearted fare: Segawa continues to be literally the nicest girl in Nagi’s entire school and gets set up as a somewhat dramatic love interest despite her own pending nuptials, Sachi is just the cutest little sister ever, and the cast continues to become more and more fleshed out as individuals collectively thrown into a topsy-turvy situation. Finally, I’m starting to see an inkling of how this story is shaping up to be a larger, more complex narrative with enough momentum to stretch across Summer 2022 as well. How it’s all going to resolve remains a complete blur: I know that Nagi and Erika will, of course, end up together, but there’s the delicious threads of “how” and “why” to untangle.
A Couple of Cuckoos is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization light novel editor & proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where they’re a staff editor. They’re also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, they’re falling in love with Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie and A Couple of Cuckoos. When they’re not writing and reviewing, you can find them on their Twitter or on their Instagram where they’re always up to something.