Episode 9 – Sasaki and Miyano

I’ve mentioned a couple of times now that I’m not a fan of Sasaki’s more possessive attitude the last few weeks. That’s not because I think romances need to be squeaky clean, or that characters must be morally unimpeachable to be good – lord knows I love Scum’s Wish and you can count the number of healthy romantic decisions made in that show on one finger. As I write this review I’m listening to a song about both being and being in love with a toxic wreck of a person. I am not here to be the moral police of romantic fiction. Rather it’s a question of framing – there are a lot of romances that indulge in the drama of a jealous or overprotective lover, and while those can be a tawdry good time, that’s decidedly incongruous with the sedate and grounded love story SasaMiya has been going for all season.

I can 100% buy that an awkward teenager experiencing first love will make mistakes, act out of line, or cross boundaries he shouldn’t while trying to figure out his feelings and express them to his crush. If anything, letting him make those mistakes gives Sasaki more texture as a character. But if the show was going to have him make a baldly selfish demand like asking Miyano not to do something entirely because he’s irrationally jealous, and then frame it as a cute sign ofion, I was gonna have problems with that. And it certainly seemed like that was the route we were taking as Miyano mulled over last week’s line about how “liking somebody means you want to do things for them” in the opening minutes of this episode – framing capitulation as an act of romance.

So you can imagine the happy little seal clap I made when Miyano promptly approached Sasaki for some honest-to-god communication, and said in no uncertain terms that he’s going to be part of the beauty competition. What started off as generally obligation has become a chance for Miyano to explore his own anxieties about his appearance in a relatively safe – yet still public – situation, and while he’s not ecstatic about it, he does want to participate. He explains himself well, and while never confrontational, he’s firm about his boundaries and doesn’t leave any room for Sasaki to argue. This boy’s come a long way from the timid ball of anxiety he started the show as, and it’s really nice to see that exemplified here.

My only quibble is that Sasaki is mollified by realizing Miyano’s determination partly comes from liking him, rather than actually internalizing that he stepped over a line. Baby steps, I suppose, but the important thing is Miyano’s started to assert himself as an equal in their almost-relationship. Overall I still have some issues with how this part of our central romance has played out – but I also have renewed hope that the remaining episodes will be able to handle things thoughtfully. That’s all I really ask for.

And with that hurdle cleared, the rest of the episode goes right back into Cute Shit mode. You’ve got the classic setup of Sasaki being sick at school, and wouldn’t ya know it, the school nurse is out of office so now Miyano has to tend to him, and even walk him home no less! I’m almost sad we cut from there to the school festival, as that means there’s no time for an episode of Miyano visiting a sick Sasaki at home and all the anime romance shenanigans that would inevitably ensue. But that’s an ok tradeoff because it turns out Sasaki’s class is doing a Delinquent cafe for the festival, and we get to see him decked out in full yankee gear. Extra piercings, patterned shirt, grumpy attitude, the works. It’s fantastic, and only made better when he reverts to his sweet personality the moment Miyano shows up. It’s pure romcom fluff and I will eat it all up like so much state fair cotton candy. There will doubtlessly be some drama in our closing episodes, but if they wanted to go out with three weeks of this, I wouldn’t complain.

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Sasaki and Miyano is currently streaming on Funimation.

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