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Yubisaki to Renren (A Sign of Affection) – 07

Yubisaki to Renren has grown on me, I admit.  The perspective of the series seems a little more sensible and grounded than it did for the first several episodes.  The plot has taken some believable turns, and I think the awkward first relationship steps between Yuki and Itsuomi were handled quite well.  Maybe as important as any of that is that Itsuomi has become a more likeable presence as we’ve gotten to know him.  He has his quirks, but on balance he’s coming off as a basically good guy with a weird set of social etiquette.

I enjoyed seeing the focus on Yuki’s struggles to find a job, even as I didn’t enjoy that she was struggling.  Finding a job as a college student in theory should be pretty easy, but when you’re hearing-impaired?  While there are obviously certain positions where her disability would be an issue, there are a lot where it wouldn’t.  And I think it was made pretty clear here that she was facing a lot of flat-out discrimination.  Hell, there was even the matter of attending an interview with someone wearing a mask.  If you get by on lip-reading the pandemic has to be a gigantic pain in the ass, though you don’t see people talk about that much.

Yuki struggling with the challenge of a world prone to sell her short as she tries to pursue the everyday affairs of a young adult?  Yes, please – that’s fertile narrative ground if ever it existed.  There was only one really annoying Yubisucky moment this week, and that was Oushi telling Yuki that he “didn’t want some guy taking advantage of her because of her disability”.  But I kind of think it was supposed to be taken that way – maybe?  In  any event it’s incredibly condescending and insulting, or in other words, par for the course with him.  We also met his older sister Mio, who also learned sign when the trio were kids but says she forgot most of it.  She’s lamped onto her brother’s feelings for Yuki (not that it’s hard to) and I wouldn’t be shocked to see her cause some trouble before it’s done.

Meanwhile, even though Itsumi is boho-ing his way across Asia for much of the episode, there’s nice progress on that front.  I quite liked that he sent her a message saying effectively “I know it all came down too fast but I’m glad”.  Itsuomi seems genuinely interested in Yuki as a person.  That includes being interested in her disability, but that’s not a bad thing – her hearing impairment is part of who she is.  I can see where his physical forwardness might be seen as pushy (as indeed I did for a while) but in the end, you know, she’s not a child and he’s not exactly bullying her into having sex or anything.  A kiss basically as soon as he’s off the plane is ambitious, but he did ask her first (even if she misread his lips).

Finally we have Itsuomi asking Yuki to meet Shin (who she already has met, after a fashion).  It’s interesting – I guess he and Shin are closer than I realized, and it clearly means a lot to him to have someone to introduce as his girlfriend.  Maybe he was a little pushy about this when she was clearly uncomfortable with it, but I don’t feel like he crossed a line (and he set up a bailout plan, which was considerate).  Shin’s obvious connection to Emma is a concern here, but this will be our first chance to take the measure of the man without her nattering away next to him.  Hopefully he proves himself worthy of the trust Itsuomi places in him.

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