After a loooooong break due to the Golden Week holiday, InK returned last Friday. I was worried that the break would kill my love for this show, and while I did feel my nerves grating a little with Kotoko this episode, InK continued to be winning as usual as Kotoko and Naoki’s relationship continues to take tiny steps forward.
Episode 6: A rival emerges?! Love with a lot of trouble!
Kotoko brushes her teeth, still thinking about when Naoki kissed her. She grabs Naoki’s toothbrush and looks at it longingly. Uh, if she puts that toothbrush in her mouth, this is about to get super weird. Luckily, Naoki walks in at that moment and she quickly puts the toothbrush back and begins to leave.
Naoki stops her, apologizing for being distant with her since that day; he just couldn’t be honest with himself. Kotoko turns back, hardly able to believe it. Naoki walks towards her, pulls her in for a kiss…
…And Kotoko wakes up. Kotoko’s been having lots of dreams like that since the graduation party, but unfortunately, she and Naoki haven’t made any progress at all since graduation.
But, since they’re now in college, she hopes that something will change. Naoki’s in the science and engineering department and Kotoko’s in the literature department, so they can’t see each other very often, but that doesn’t keep Kotoko from keeping an eye on him anyway.
She waits outside the science and engineering department with Satomi and Jinko, checking to see if there are any girls that she should be worried about. There don’t seem to be any girls in sight, much to Kotoko’s relief, until they spot a beautiful girl (Matsumoto Yuko played by Kanna Mori) exiting the department building with Naoki.
Determined to find out more about this girl, Satomi and Jinko push Kotoko right into Naoki and Yuko’s path. Kotoko tries to play it cool, making up a flimsy excuse for why she’s here. Yuko asks Kotoko is Naoki’s girlfriend. Kotoko smiles and starts to preen, but Naoki just laughs and says “No way,” before walking off. Yuko looks over Kotoko, before giving a snide smile and following Naoki.
Kotoko only stands there in shock, Naoki’s words echoing in her ears. But, they kissed! How could he treat her so coldly after that?
Kotoko tells Satomi and Jinko about the kiss, though they’re skeptical, especially considering the way he just treated her. Kotoko admits they might be right and says she has no idea what Naoki’s thinking. They tell her to cheer up and say that college gives lots of opportunities to meet new people, so Kotoko needs to be even more vigilant with Naoki or else Yuko will snatch him away.
To celebrate Kotoko and Naoki’s first day of college, the family goes to eat at Aihara. But who else would be serving them but Kin-chan. He’s become Dad’s apprentice so he can open his own restaurant one day, make a lot of money, and of course, marry Kotoko. Nevertheless, Kotoko’s proud of Kin-chan for finding something he wants to do and tells him to to do his best. Their closeness doesn’t go unnoticed by Naoki, though he doesn’t say anything.
Kin-chan’s working hard, peeling radishes, washing dishes, and folding napkins. Aww, I can’t hate this kid, he’s too cute.
At home, Kotoko fishes for information about Yuko from Naoki. She asks him if it’s possible that she likes him. Naoki seems a little pleased as he asks if Kotoko’s jealous. Kotoko quickly denies it, but then Naoki begins to praise Yuko. She’s pretty, has a great body, and is even smart, placing fifth on the national exam. Kotoko wonders why someone that smart would go to their college and Naoki says maybe she has another purpose.
Kotoko starts to look sad and Naoki asks what happened to her forgetting about him. He’s so sly because then he’s like, “Oh yeah, we did kiss, didn’t we?” He closes the gap between them and asks if she can’t forget about him because of that. He leans in closer and Kotoko wonders if this will be the second kiss, closing her eyes in anticipation. But Naoki draws back, smiling and goes to his room. Kotoko fumes, mad at being so easily tricked, and thinks that the kiss didn’t mean anything to Naoki.
Kotoko runs into Naoki at lunch while trying to decide what to eat. They end up ordering the same set, except Naoki has a lot less food than Kotoko. They ask what’s the deal when they realize that their server is none other than Kin-chan. He only works at Dad’s restaurant at night, so he decided to work at the college during the day, partly to hone his cooking skills, and partly to see Kotoko more often.
Naoki remarks sarcastically that he’s impressed that a man can change his life for one girl and that he can’t do such a thing. Kin-chan puffs himself up, proud that he can do something Naoki can’t, but Kotoko dismisses him as well.
Satomi and Jinko say Kin-chan has the right idea and that Kotoko is at a disadvantage compared to Yuko, who gets to be around Naoki all the time. They spot an upperclassman, Sudo, begging Naoki to join his club and though Naoki initially refuses, Naoki eventually gives in.
Satomi and Jinko say this is Kotoko’s chance; if she can join the same club as Naoki, then she’ll get to see him all the time. Kotoko takes their advice and asks Naoki which club he plans to join. Naoki says he won’t tell her, since he’s afraid that she’ll join whichever club he joins.
That doesn’t stop Kotoko though, and she follows Naoki around after school in a handkerchief trying to find out what club he’s joining. She thinks her snooping has paid off when she sees Naoki walk into one of the club rooms. She’s surprised to see it’s an anime club and Naoki’s no where to be seen. When she asks about him, they say he came in for a few seconds before leaving. Realizing she’s been tricked, Kotoko turns around and sees Naoki on the stairs, smiling at her. Hahaha!
Kotoko doesn’t give up though and runs around the school, trying to find the correct club room when she spots Yuko. She hides quickly as Naoki shows up. Apparently, Yuko’s joining the same club as Naoki, much to Kotoko’s chagrin. They enter the club room, with Kotoko right behind them.
Naoki sighs when he sees Kotoko enter. She pretends to be very enthusiastic about joining the tennis club and though she doesn’t have any recommendations, Sudo is happy enough to have another member.
Irie-mama buys Kotoko tennis equipment and tries to show off Kotoko’s outfit to Naoki, but he’s not interested. Kotoko confesses that Yuko is gunning for Naoki and she’s worried she might lose to her, but Irie-mama tells her to just keep following Naoki like she’s been doing. After all, she’s the best girl for Naoki. Irie-mama, I love you for cheering up Kotoko, but your advice is making me face-palm. Kotoko’s dad overhears the conversation and looks worried.
On the first day of tennis practice, all the new members’ skill will be tested by Sudo. Kotoko isn’t worried since it’s the nice senpai who will be testing them, but Naoki says she doesn’t know anything. Sure enough, Sudo picks up his tennis racket and his face totally changes. His tone is totally different as he calls out the first freshman and starts yelling at him.
The poor kid barely knows what hit him as Sudo serves the first ball and it bounces right past him. Naoki says Sudo’s been like that since elementary school, earning him the nickname Sudo the Demon because his personality totally changes whenever he holds a tennis racket.
One by one, Sudo whips the new members until it’s Yuko’s turn. Yuko manages to keep up with Sudo, much to Kotoko’s amazement. Naoki says that she was in the final four singles division when in high school and one of the reasons Yuko decided to go to Tonan was because she heard they had a good tennis team. Kotoko asks how he knows all that and he says that Yuko asked him for advice when choosing schools; the two had met before at a tennis tournament in the first year of high school. Kotoko feels disheartened to know that Yuko has a longer history with Naoki than she does.
Naoki gets called out next and Sudo and Naoki exchange a few verbal barbs before starting. Naoki swiftly beats him, as expected, putting Sudo in a sour mood. He demands a rematch, but the manager says that’s enough and to move onto the next member. Unfortunately, that’s Kotoko.
She’s completely freaked out and tells Sudo that she’s never played before, in the hopes that he’ll go easy on her, but he just snarls and serves the ball. Kotoko runs away from the incoming ball, screaming her head off and dropping her racket. Sudo yells at her to hold the racket and keep her eyes on the ball. He serves again and Kotoko follows his directions, except she forgets to try and hit the ball.
It hits her square on the head, knocking her out, much to Naoki’s amusement.
Irie-mama patches up Kotoko at home and tells her not to go to tennis practice anymore, but Kotoko says all new members are required to go to tennis practice everyday. Kotoko’s dad looks even more unsettled than before, now that Kotoko’s getting hurt.
At the restaurant, Kotoko’s dad asks Kin-chan how Kotoko is at school. He says she hasn’t changed much since high school, so Dad asks if Kotoko has a boyfriend. Kin-chan assures him that he’s keeping anything like that from happening, so he asks about Naoki. Besides the fact that Kin-chan is during everything to keep them apart, Kin-chan feels like the distance between them has gotten larger because they’re in different departments, making Dad uneasy. Dad asks for Kin-chan to deliver a message to Kotoko.
Kotoko is still in pain from practice and Jinko tells her that the tennis team is rumored to be tough, with only a handful of students actually staying on the team by the end of the year. Satomi asks if she can really keep up with it, but Kotoko can do anything for Naoki. Kin-chan shows up to deliver a big cake with the words “Kotoko Love” written on it.
Kin-chan tells her to give up tennis, saying it’s not worth getting injured over, but Kotoko says her dad always told her to see things through to the end. Kin-chan cries at her dedication before remembering Dad’s message; he wants to meet Kotoko tonight at Aihara, though Kin-chan doesn’t know why.
Practice continues to be torture as Sudo makes everyone do muscle exercises with no breaks. The worst part though is that Naoki and Yuko are no where in sight; just what did she join this club for anyway if she can’t even see Naoki? Kotoko gets hit in the head with a tennis ball and sees that it came from Yuko. She goes to return the ball and asks why Yuko isn’t doing exercises like the rest of the new members. Yuko passed the test at the last practice so she is allowed to play on the court.
Kotoko gets hopeful, thinking she’ll see Naoki on the court as well, but Naoki joined the tennis club under two conditions: He’ll practice when he wants and only play in official tournaments. Kotoko is horrified to realize that joining the tennis club didn’t get her any closer to seeing Naoki and hangs her head. Yuko only rubs it in her face even more when she says that even though they live together, Kotoko doesn’t seem to know a lot about Naoki.
Kotoko hobbles into Aihara that night, her muscles still sore from practice. Dad treats her to a meal and asks her why she joined the tennis team when she’s no good at sports. She did it for Naoki, right? C’mon Dad, why ask the obvious?
Dad says it’s already been a year since they moved in with the Iries and though they all get along well, he doesn’t want to impose any longer. He had hoped that she and Naoki would get together soon, but judging by Naoki’s attitude, it doesn’t seem like he’s interested. He doesn’t think she and Naoki will work out, so he suggests that they live on their own again.
Kotoko walks home in a daze, thinking about what her dad said. He’s already found a place nearby and he thinks Kotoko’s feelings are important, but he also wants her to think about his feelings. He doesn’t want to see her getting hurt anymore because of Naoki.
Kotoko obviously feels bad for her dad, but if she moves out of Naoki’s house, she won’t have anything connecting them anymore. She looks up at the sky and sees a shooting star which is when Naoki shows up, asking what she’s looking at.
Kotoko is surprised and asks where he’s coming from, but he says it’s none of her business. But he asks where she’s been, since it’s already so late at night. She says she just came back from Aihara and Naoki gets a leetle bit sensitive and asks if she went there to see ‘that guy’? But Kotoko is dim as always and doesn’t catch on to who he’s talking about, so Naoki drops the subject.
Kotoko says she went to go see her dad to talk about moving out, surprising Naoki. He asks if she’s really moving out and Kotoko asks hesitantly if he’ll miss her if she moves out. Naoki looks at her and he does seem unnerved for a moment, but he adopts his normally cool demeanor and says that his life can finally go back to normal before walking off.
Kotoko: “I don’t understand. I don’t understand how you feel, Irie-kun. What should I do?”
Thoughts: I like how this episode started to show Naoki open up some more. Thank you director for allowing Furukawa to show a little more emotion! While the little glares of jealousy and teasing were cute, this episode definitely ramped it up with his reaction to the idea that his little stalker might not be around anymore. Whether he wants to admit it or not, Kotoko’s gotten under his skin and has started changing him a little bit, but he’s so emotionally closed off that he can’t help but put up that barrier to try and hide it. Kotoko’s managed to make small breaks in that wall so far, but I think Naoki needs to step up and take some action himself, because while Kotoko would probably follow Naoki to the ends of the earth, I’d rather not see her abused for the sake of Naoki’s growth.
Though I don’t expect much from Kotoko, I look forward to her distancing herself from Naoki for a while and making him squirm. Her stalker side came out in full force this episode, which is the aspect of Kotoko I dislike the most. Her love for Naoki is cute until it enters crazy obsession because then she starts to get on my nerves. The show has done a good job so far developing Kotoko with an identity outside of Naoki, which is one of the reasons I like it, so I think the appearance of stalker Kotoko made this episode fall a little short for me. I still love you Show, but you’re going to have to dial back that crazy Kotoko.