I’m assuming Sumi (Rie Takahashi) is introduced this late because this is around the same time she would in the manga. Even so, the timing of this character’s first appearance is a bit lousy. Really? You’re introducing Sumi this late? The only thing that would make it even more disappointing is if she doesn’t appear in the finale.
Granted, it may bug me because Sumi appears to be a fun addition to the cast. Unlike the other three ladies, Sumi is horribly shy, so much so that she can barely muster the courage to speak. It’s a trait that’s at serious odds with the rental girlfriend job and the fact that Sumi wants to get better at it is interesting and hints at a hidden, more persevering side of her personality. If nothing else, it’s also just nice to have someone other than Chizuru who isn’t out of her goddamn mind. Finally, there’s two sensible bachelorettes to even out the roster.
The chemistry between Sumi and Kazuya has some potential. Sure, you still have Kazuzya’s hormonal fantasies kicking in but the rental girlfriend does seem to bring out the better aspects of his personality. This is best manifested when Kazuya sees some men harassing Sumi and while he chickens out at first, he musters the courage to get her out of that bind. He even lets those guys insult him as he’s used to it and Sumi’s safety matters to him at the moment. That’s something that’s been kind of missing with his interactions with Chizuru, this sudden shift into the best version of himself.
So, Mami makes a return after doing nothing for the past five episodes. She spots Kazuya during his mock date with Sumi, stunned that he’s apparently “cheating” on Chizuru (adding to the irony is that the mock date is a favor Chizuru asked of him). It’s funny enough seeing Sumi misread the situation and claim she and Kazuya is dating though I can’t help but wish Ruka was in her place instead. Imagine the shit show that would’ve been. Later, Mami looks up on her phone and finds out about the rental girlfriend profession and by extension, Kazuya and Chizuru’s big secret. Wow, it’s like it really is that easy to find out. Who knew?
Joking aside, it is nice to finally see Mami again. She’s most certainly not the most likable character in the show (which is saying something) but she is one of the most interesting ones. For all her talk about how little she cares for Kazuya, she sure obsesses over him and his love life. There’s potential, I’ll give Kanokari that, and it’s been far too long since anything has been done with it. An interesting line of dialogue that pops up is when Mami thinks to herself that she only dated Kazuya because it was convenient. That would imply she’s more insecure about her love life than she lets on and she picked Kazuya simply because he asked her out. With Kazuya looking like he’s been doing better without her, it’s no wonder Mami’s ego is frustrated.
Now, what to make of the ending? While I see potential with the setups, I’m having a hard time buying that it’ll mean much. Points for actually following up on Chizuru’s acting aspirations but I kind of doubt her landing a role will have much of an effect. Without her, you’d effectively have no story or at least not one involving the main girl. Admittedly, Kazuya accepting this development and letting go of his feelings towards Chizuru would be interesting…but I doubt that’s the direction the show wants to take. Meanwhile, you have Mami’s newfound knowledge over Chizuru’s rental girlfriend job and confronting her about it (it’ll be a huge missed opportunity if Chizuru doesn’t make Mami pay the fee). It’d be a nice shakeup if the cat’s finally out the bag but since this show has been riding on that, I’m on the fence if a shakeup will happen at all. I just get this feeling the show will think of some (possibly contrived) way as to why Mami might think keeping her lips sealed would be most advantageous for her to do.