Every episode, there is a new character introduced in Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun and lately, every new addition to the cast seems to add something to the table. This time we are introduced to Tsubasa Umeya, a Judo prodigy who quits his sport and switches over to soccer solely because he’s become smitten with Gotou. I initially thought he’d be in this one-sided rivalry with Aoyama (and that does happen very briefly) but it turns out that Umeya is quite the gentleman.
Seriously, I’m impressed that the writers and the mangaka decided to have Umeya content that his crush has feelings for a different man. Instead, Umeya decides that he wants to make Gotou happy, he should help her get closer to Aoyama. This results in Umeya inviting Aoyama to hang out with him and Gotou at a cat festival (those exists?). I think my favorite scene is when Umeya (a Judo genius) takes a beating from some thugs just so that Gotou can protect Aoyama. Even though Odagiri ultimately intervenes, I’m impressed that Umeya tried to turn this as an opportunity for Gotou.
It’s a pretty atypical commentary on teen romance. A lot of high school anime (or just anything set in high school) really love their drama and sabotage. I myself can’t deny that it’s a real part of adolescence and it can work really well in media. Aoyama-kun, meanwhile, suggests that it might be best to just let things play out. Umeya seems to get that and decides to just make Gotou happy and if she ends up falling for him, then great. Honestly, I kind of wish Umeya did get the girl. I like the awkward chemistry between Aoyama and Gotou but Aoyama-kun has convinced that if the two didn’t hook up, I’d really buy it. We’ve now seen two really strong alternatives for the two of them.
One last thing: I really like the little gags in this episode. I especially dug how the animators drew arrows to show who people are more attracted to. I was about to call the relationships a love triangle (or square, I guess) but the arrows really articulate the chart as this zigzag instead. Everyone gazes at someone else and it somehow ends on Aoyama (who seems to be one interested in this animals during the date). I also love how our comedic trio of soccer goofballs and the Judo captain are stalking Umeya. They don’t really intervene or anything but I love how they’re constantly jumping to conclusions over what Umeya’s endgame is (they sure spread rumors). Sometimes, they’re spying in the same area. Like how did they not notice each other? Oh well, I thought it was hilarious.