This is a tough one. There’s stuff about Yubisaki to Renren that I like, that’s for sure. And after the top 5 exercise it’s never been more clear to me just how rare good college anime are. But also that this seems to be a cursed setting somehow – full of pit traps and mines that send seemingly promising anime to their doom. My personal history is quite a few of them starting out strong and then going off the rails, so maybe one starting out in vexing fashion will reverse the trend.
For quite a bit of this episode I was thinking things had upticked since the premiere, but the third act kind of lost me. I’m also pretty unsure about the addition of Yuki’s childhood friend Oushi. Setting aside the potential this creates for a love triangle (frankly I don’t think she has any interest in him) he’s another problematic character in his own right. He’s another man who’s condescending and paternalistic towards Yuki. Okay, he’s supposed to be annoyingly so – but when all the guys introduced so far act that way, it’s a bit concerning about where the series’ head is at.
Itsuomi is about to head off to Laos (is his family wealthy or something?) as the episode kicks off. But things seem to be moving along between he and Yuki. They’re messaging each other, and he offers to buy her souvenirs while he’s over there. Yuki for her part is trying to figure out whether she’s crushing on him or in love, as Rin tries to convince her that it’s basically a meaningless distinction (she’s right of course). He’s still doing the whole moai thing so it’s hard to get a read on Itsuomi, but he’s better behaved for most of the ep than he is in the first episode.
Oushi is fluent in sign, and there’s an obvious intimacy between he and Yuki. But she tells Rin that he’s only ever insulting to her in sign, and at the very least we can see that he’s very overprotective (and seeing her with Itsuomi sets off all his alarm bells). Again, okay, he’s obviously in love with her and that colors everything he does. But the way he talks about her behind her back – and to her face for that matter – is frankly pretty insulting. She’s not a china doll, she’s a human being who happens to be deaf.
What about Yuki herself? Well, that reflection on her time at a school for the deaf was helpful. It does explain a lot, because she was quite literally sheltered – in a place at which by her own admission she felt totally safe. But she longed to experience the outside world, which is why she went to college. She still acts like the sheltered girl who doesn’t know how the world works, but at least we have a better idea of why that is. I want her to act more independent and assured (a 19 year-old does not need a curfew from her mother) but I’m not sure the story does.
I don’t want to overdramatize, but I’m getting a bit of a Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso vibe here. That is, where what seems painfully obvious to me is the complete opposite of the author’s own point of view. What does the mangaka think about all this? Itsuoumi returns from Laos and is right back to his condescending ways, and everything with Yuki is shoujo sparkles. And that whole bumping thing at the end had an unsettling vibe to it. Instinctively I don’t like where all this is going, but I’m curious to know if I’m completely off base with my concerns. There’s the core of a very interesting character story here, one that isn’t your Daiso standard anime romance plot. I’m just not convinced yet that Yubisaki to Renren is the right series to tell it.