Thursday, June 13, 2013

Switch Girl!! Episode 2 Recap

Wow, talk about delays. Sorry this has taken so long, but the last semester of college really got in the way. Now, considering I'm unemployed, I have plenty of time to watch dramas and write recaps (hopefully), and the second episode of Switch Girl!! is not a bad way to start my (hopefully short) vacation.

This episode doesn't disappoint, and shows the format of the series pretty well--mostly episodic with a couple of larger arcs thrown in at the end. Today's dilemma involves saving Nika's innocent friend from the clutches of a playboy.

Episode 2 Recap
We open today's episode with an introduction to the Japanese concept of Time Sales, which is similar to sales in America wherein certain items are on sale for a limited amount of time. This is like a sporting event to the obaa-sans in the city, who gather outside the story early in the morning in an attempt to get their hands on groceries at sale prices.

While fighting off the obaa-sans, Nika drops a potato. And who should pick it up but Arata himself. She sidles up beside him to find out what he's doing here (buying lunch for himself). Mom and nee-chan notice him before Nika knows what's happening, and start to ask embarrassing questions like, "Is he your boyfriendddd?" which isn't helped by Nika referring to him informally. They invite him to come over for lunch, to which he readily agrees, and Nika frets over the coming afternoon as they walk home together.

She wonders why he agreed to come over. Is it because he wants to use her secret against her? She fantasizes that he'll probably blackmail her until she's got nothing left to live, at which point she'll have to become a hostess and fend off perverts.

Arata overhears her fretting and assures Nika that he hasn't got the tiniest bit of interest in her or her lifestyle. He explains that his reason for accepting her mother's offer was because he wanted to eat a home-cooked meal.

When they get home, Mom leads Arata straight into Nika's messy room, where he finds (among other grosser things) rank barley tea and pubic hairs lying around. Nika gets defensive when he notes that her taste isn't at all ladylike, but he goes on to assure her, "It's okay. It suits you well." Nika wonders to herself why he's being so nice, and jumps to the wrong conclusion--does he want to sleep with her?

This is further exacerbated by him taking a seat on the bed, and she's quick to explain that they can't jump the gun like this--her family's just outside the door and she's not as easy as he seems to think. Arata stares at her like, "What are you talking about?" so Nika sighs and takes a seat beside him.

As they sit there, she notices his profile and thinks to herself that he's really quite handsome when he's not hiding behind his horrid glasses. Along that train of thought, she asks him why he feels the need to hide his face.

Arata explains that it's probably the same reason why Nika hides her "Off Mode"-- because it would change people's behavior toward him if he didn't. He figures that wearing his glasses makes him relatively invisible to other people, which is more comfortable, and asks Nika quietly to keep his secret to herself.

Nika wonders whether his reasoning also has to do with the fact that he hates women, and she begins to question if that's why he doesn't like her. Then again, she figures, she's not all that girly. Her thoughts eventually get the better of her, and Nika begins to notice Arata's handsomeness all over again.

He sure does smell nice, she thinks, and starts sniffing him like a dog before she can stop herself. Eventually, Arata's thoroughly freaked out and gets up to leave--figuring it was a bad idea to come over in the first place. Nika rushes to stop him but slips on one of the many things lying around her room.

She lands on top straddling him, hand under his sweater, as his hand comes up behind her and pulls down her pants. This is how Mom and nee-chan find them seconds later, and fret at having interrupted. Nee-chan makes the observation that Nika must like it on top, and Mom chimes in that she always likes being on top too. Nika whines at them to stop, bouncing up and down on poor Arata, making him even more uncomfortable. Haha.

Later that night, Nika walks him out to the elevator, offering up some leftovers that Mom packed up for him. Arata thanks her, and admits that her house is loud, but entertaining. Nika realizes that when he goes home, he's probably alone and starts to offer, "If it's ever lonely eating by yourself..." but stops before she can finish.

Arata catches on and assures her, "...then I'll call you. Next time, it's my turn." And indeed, Arata arrives home to a dark and empty house. He stares wistfully at the picture frame in the corner that holds a portrait of his family--only, his mother's face is blackened by marker so you can't see it anymore.

Nika worries over him the next day at school having been unable to sleep the night before. Nino teases that she's probably interested in him, which Nika denies vehemently. Still, she can't seem to stop watching him, and follows him to the roof when he goes up there for lunch.

She swaps his bread for her bento and wonders aloud why he always eats alone. He should eat in the classroom like everyone else so that he can make friends. This irritates Arata, who tells her to mind her own business--he's not in the business of making friends, and if that's all she came to tell him, she should just leave. He swaps their lunches back and walks off, leaving Nika pissed at his coldness.

Back in the classroom, Nika fumes to herself about the encounter, bewildered that Arata could have been so nice the night before and so mean today. Her friends come over to invite her to an after-school goukon, with one of them telling Nika about her chance meeting with a cute boy that morning on her way to school.

He'd invited her to hang out after school and they'd exchanged phone numbers. The guy had asked her specifically to bring Nika along when she came to the karaoke bar that night. Thinking about Arata's cold rebuff, Nika agrees right away to come on the group date. She loudly announces that, after all, she's been thinking about getting a boyfriend lately, and then stomps off.

Arata doesn't care a wit, but Nino approaches him after the girls are gone. She asks him whether he knew what Nika's nickname was in primary school. As a result of her being a little chubster when she was little, Nika was called "Oonita" after a professional wrestler. She was teased by everyone, including the boy she liked, and when that little boy started dating the cutest girl in the class, it had motivated Nika to change.

She lost all the weight by middle school and those who hadn't known her previously fell head over heels for her. Nika managed to find herself a boyfriend at last, but all was not well because she wasn't able to hide her Off Mode personality and got dumped immediately. By high school, she'd managed to perfect her On Mode and started being able to hide her true self entirely.

Meanwhile, out in the hallway, Monkey Boss overhears the nerd boys talking about the goukon and starts making plans with her lackeys to crash the party.

So that night at the goukon, Satochi's date proves to be vapid and shallow as expected, and sidles up next to Nika despite being on a date with her friend. Nika tries to draw the guy's attention back to Satoshi, but for every question she asks him, like "What is your type?" or "Who would you go out with?" his answer is always, "Nika."

Later, on her way to the bathroom, Nika overhears the asshole in the bathroom bragging to his friend about how he's nearly got Nika in his pocket--to commemorate the 50th notch on his bedpost he'd wanted to bed a more challenging girl. The asshole tells his friend to take the other three girls in Nika's party--they're not that great looking, but they seem pretty easy so it won't be a problem.

That's the last straw for Nika. As they zip up and turn to head for the sinks, she douses them with a bucket of cold water. She insults his manhood, and as he lunges for her, he slips on the water and falls on his ass. Nika raises her foot to kick him where the sun don't shine, but stops at the last second, looking down on him with murderous eyes.

She berates him for trying to crush the innocence of girls who are just looking to find a little love, and tells him not to group them as being easy. If he ever hurts one of her friends again, she threatens to let every girl in town know about his evil ways. The boys cower with fear before her and can only stare as she tells him to pay the bill and walks out.

When she gets home that night, Nika stops at the mailboxes to check her mail, fuming about the asshole all the while. Arata walks into the room, wanting to check his own mail and muses that the goukon must not have gone as well as she wanted to. Nika tell him to mind his own business, and she doesn't notice him come up behind her until he reaches into her mailbox with a manila envelope in his hand.

She freezes at the close proximity and turns around to face him. He tells her, "You don't have to try so hard. There might be someone who likes you just the way you are." Nika doesn't even have time to process his words before he's walking into the elevator. Teasingly he tells her, "See you... Oonita."

She smiles to herself after he's gone, once the words finally sink in, "The way... I am?" She turns back to the mailbox and notices the envelope. Inside is the container her mom gave to Arata with the leftovers. The note on top reads, "It was delicious." Nika grins, staring down at the post it.

This was a good starter episode for a show that's less than three hours total. We have to dive right into the conflict without wasting any time, and so pretty quickly it becomes apparent what Arata's central storyline is going to be: his mommy issues.

We had our normal wacky fun in the second half of the episode, but a couple of key things happened in the first half: first, Arata said the magic words. It's obvious at this point that he doesn't necessarily have The Love for Nika yet, but it's a hugely massive thing for him to look at her, at her lifestyle and say, quite cavalierly at that, that it's okay--it suits her. He does it again at the end of the episode, after finding out Nika's history. But the first time has more of an impact because he says it while being none the wiser.

The second key thing that happens is that because of his acceptance, Nika's heart begins to move in his direction. Until now, she's seen one side of him: assy. But it says something about his character that, no holds barred, he's willing to accept her as the person she is. And Nika realizes that.

We're well on our way to bringing these two lovebirds together, so it's just a matter of time before the sparks start flying.