Everybody loves confessing to someone they like, right?
If there really are production problems with Just Because! as the allegations suggest, I’ve yet to see any damage. To perfectly honest, I thought this episode was fantastic. Several aspects just clicked here from the directing to the acting to the writing. I suppose the visuals are the weakest aspect but I am starting to find some charm in it. The backgrounds are quite nice and while I admit the faces are goofy at times, they are at least expressive. Granted, for all I know, the show could get derailed as time goes on but right now, I’m satisfied with how it’s been shaping up.
This episode is where we’re starting to see the gears turning in this relationship chart. Haruto decides to properly confess to Morikawa on New Year’s Eve (a very appropriate time for romance) and that naturally has Mio rather uncomfortable and Eita concerned for Mio. Hell, even Mio’s dog is concerned about how Mio is feeling about this right now. At the same time, Ena notices in her photography (that she keeps taking without anyone’s permission) that the way Eita looks at Mio really does signal that he has feelings for her. Eita naturally shrugs it off as him being a good friend but Ena encourages him to confess to Mio and that advice does stick in Eita’s head for the remainder of the episode.
There’s a compelling parallel going on in this episode as both Haruto and Eita end up hanging out with the girls they fancy on New Year’s Eve and both get the ideal opportunity to confess. I’ve never really saw Haruto and Eita as opposites but this episode did compare and contrast the two. The thing about Haruto is that while he is determined to ask Hazuki out, he’s only gotten to know her very recently. Up until now, he was attracted to her from afar, admiring her trumpet playing during playoffs and that was largely it. By comparison, Eita hesitates in confessing to Mio but he knows his crush pretty well. It may be years since he last saw Mio but he still knows what’s going on in her head, hence why he feels compelled to confront her about Haruto.
These two plots naturally play out differently but it’s safe to say that they both ended in disaster. Just as Haruto outright confesses, Hazuki outright rejects him since she’s focused on college and not romance. Eita and Mio’s confrontation involves more indirectness though it is also quite the train-wreck. Just as Mio tells him not to get involved in her life, Eita comes this close to confessing to her. He stops at the last second (perhaps he thinks confessing would make things worse) but one look at Mio’s face and it’s safe to say that she has a hunch as to what Eita was about to say. She looks annoyed at first though once she sees how hurt Eita looks as he walks away, her expression becomes more distraught.
Quite a big question mark forms as this episode ends. Where do these characters go from here? Will Haruto wallow in defeat or will he at least remain on platonic terms with Hazuki (which could in turn convince Hazuki to reconsider). Will Eita and Mio avoid each other or will they reconcile and stay friends until eventually, they do hook up? And yes, considering the promotional material and the hints dropped in the OP, I suppose it is all but confirmed that these suggest couples will hook up. But I think Just Because! is less concerned about if the romance will happen but is instead focused on how it’ll play out.