Boarding School Juliet
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Boarding School Juliet ?
“Romio and Juliet and the Sports Festival” appropriately concludes this three-episode arc by finally giving Juliet and Romio the showdown they've been anticipating all month. Striding atop their trusty underlings, the two engage in a kibasen match that makes for the most visually impressive “battle” we've seen since the sword fight that brought our young lovebirds together in the first place; it is a few steps below that first scene, but it's still exciting to see Romio and Juliet get to cut loose and treat each other as rivals again, especially since Juliet puts such stock into making sure that nobody that she faces holds back, especially not her boyfriend.
Then the show has to go and ruin it by ending the match with Romio passing out from a nose hemorrhage after he accidentally grabs a handful of Juliet's boob. I've made it no secret that “accidental groping” jokes are some of my least favorite, not only because they make a joke out of something that shouldn't be treated that way, but also because they've been a cliché for decades now. It's a straight-up corny move that also undermines all of the buildup the last few episodes provided, since Juliet didn't win because of her own strength and will – she won because her boyfriend is a horny doofus.
Thankfully, the episode picks up significantly after the underwhelming close to the sports festival, and it does so by doubling down on Boarding School Juliet's secret weapon: letting Romio and Juliet just hang out and be cute dorks together. After sneaking out of a party meant to celebrate her big win, Juliet meets up with an embarrassed Romio, who apologizes for getting handsy and graciously follows Juliet's MVP order to teach her a Towa dance. It's a ridiculously sweet scene, partially because of Romio's eccentric dance, but mostly because we get to see Romio through Juliet's eyes for a change. Even though the circumstances of Juliet's victory still don't sit right with me, it's easy to see why she'd be so happy with him here. He stood up for her and took on the goons that put her in harm's way, and he was considerate enough of her wishes to demand a rematch. Romio's a good boy, and I do love having an anime that explores a single couple's growing relationship without wasting so much time on the pining and will-they-won't-they fluff.
The second major story of this episode is also a winner. Romio ends up bedridden with the flu after working himself to the bone to make up for his defeat at the festival, which is when Juliet comes over to the Black Doggies' dorm as “Julio” to pay a visit to her sickly boyfriend. She ends up taking care of him instead, at least when she isn't getting into hijinks by stumbling into the girls' bath at the dorm when she's dressed as a boy. There's a lot of predictable stuff going on too; Juliet has to change her clothes while Romio resists peeking, Eigo slips Romio a dirty magazine that earns him some leers from Juliet, and so on. However, all of these shenanigans are bolstered by the couple's overwhelming chemistry – Romio and Juliet are just cute as heck, and their banter is more than entertaining enough to carry them through these well-worn sitcom gags. There are also a couple of scenes featuring shady-looking Black Doggies that seem to be laying the groundwork for more conflict between the two houses, but I honestly don't find that material all that engaging on its own. I'll be much more inclined to get invested in House Drama when it starts to spur on more character development for the main cast.
Despite its problems, “Romio and Juliet and the Sports Festival” proves that Boarding School Juliet works when its central relationship is at the center of the story. When Juliet begrudgingly admits that she had no special reason to sneak into the Black Doggies' dorm outside of just wanting to see Romio, it transcends what could be a cheap tsundere moment and flaunts the real affection she has for him. It's the kind of cheesy gesture that makes sappy romantics like me crumble into dust; it's no wonder that, Romio doesn't feel so good for most of the episode. Whatever challenges the Black Doggies and the White Cats are cooking up in the coming weeks, I'm sure these starry-eyed lovers will be able to tackle them head-on.
Boarding School Juliet is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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