We finally get some character introspection from Jun, the character who needed it the most, and while it still leaves me a bit perplexed, it is better than nothing. Even though much of this episode revolved around Tomo and her antics, it did lead to situations where Jun felt comfortable (or conflicted) enough to share some of his insecurities. Sure, the first skit of the episode revolving around Tomo going to the convenience store in a disguise and running into Jun is completely contrived (seriously, if the whole point was to get Tomo out of the house so that Carol and Misuzu could surprise her with a birthday party, I don’t know why she needed to be all dressed up), but I like that it led to an instance where Tomo got to hear how Jun feels about situations like the one they both find themselves in.
The best I can gather from this episode is that Jun is not as oblivious about relationships as he seems. He is aware that he and Tomo are getting closer together and may even potentially date in the future. The problem is that he dreads that outcome because he doesn’t feel worthy of it. I can understand going through life and feeling frustrated when you’re just supposed to accept things happening without any real contribution on your end. Jun sees Tomo as this incredibly strong and talented person while he still sees himself as a nerdy little gamer that Tomo pulled out of the house. Even though he’s made a lot of improvements since then to become a sociable, confident, and powerful individual, Jun still sees himself as that little boy that is always looking up to Tomo. I guess this is why he’s so obsessed with actually beating her in what he considers a contest of strength, because he’ll never feel like he’s making that decision to be with her until he achieves that.
This is ironic because Tomo seems to think that Jun is better than her strictly because he is a guy. I wonder if Jun sees that as insulting because it discounts all of the hard work he does. It would actually make for an interesting twist considering that the main thrust of this show is the idea that Tomo feels like she isn’t seen enough like a girl. She wants to be more passive and frail because she thinks that’s what a girl is supposed to be like, and Jun has almost accidentally made her think that is the type of girl she needs to be. There’s a lot of miscommunication going on here and if it is what I’m reading, then I can actually see a lot of the clever writing at play here.
I have not read the original source material and I have had people try to tell me that the inconsistencies revolving around Jun are sort of the point of his character, since he’s not being honest with himself. I understand what he is about, especially after this episode, but I just don’t think the anime does a good job of matching his actual reactions to what that state of mind is supposed to be. Is he aware of how Tomo feels but is ignoring it until he proves himself because even though he likes her back, he isn’t comfortable being in a romantic relationship with her unless they are equals? Does he actually see Tomo as a girl but feigning otherwise as a convenient excuse to keep her at bay until he’s ready, or is it some kind of subconscious defense mechanism? I ask this because there are still moments in the show that make him seem genuinely ignorant to everything going on, so it’s hard to say how thoughtful and introspective he actually is in a lot of situations. This episode is a solid start to fixing one of my main issues with the show, but whether or not it can stick the landing remains to be seen.