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When Will Ayumu Make His Move?
Episode 5

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 5 of
When Will Ayumu Make His Move? ?
Community score: 4.1

Now that's more like it. It feels like When Will Ayumu Make His Move? has been unable to shake off the sense that it's been faffing about for the majority of its run so far—especially with the rather dreadful waste of time that was last week's episode—but “Game 5” finally gives us the closest thing that Ayumu has had to a “great" episode, or at least a really good one. It's a solid reminder that Sōichirō Yamamoto really can write excellent little love stories when he puts his mind to it. The show still has some elements that are holding it back, but it's prospects still seem much better than they did just a few days ago.

I think what separates this episode from the others that we've seen so far is that it actually has substance, and the interactions between Urushi and Ayumu feel much more interesting than the stock standard rom-com clichés they've been stuck with until now. There's still a lot of tropey cheese to be found here, whether it is the opening smooch dream that gets Urushi all flustered or Ayumu's refusal to stop filming her most embarrassing moments of short-person helplessness, but the tropes are a lot easier to take in stride when they're being used on a context that's, you know, interesting and fun to watch. Plus, we don't have to deal with anything anywhere near as hacky as that stupid “porn misunderstanding" bit from last week, thank God.

Instead, after Ayumu and Urushi's cute run-in at the bookstore, we get a story that, shock of all shocks, helps us learn more about what makes these characters unique and likeable, and it's even relevant to the game of shogi! The bit about practicing shogi puzzles was fun, but the best part of the episode was definitely the couple's visit to the okonomiyaki restaurant that Urushi frequented with her late grandfather as a little girl. The tsundere old shop owner is a hoot, especially when he brings out a preposterously huge okonomiyaki after telling the kids that they can only stay as long as they're eating. It's also just sweet to see Urushi sharing why shogi is such a personal and important part of her life, and it's obviously quite the intimate thing to invite Ayumu to be a part of it. That Ayumu gets to learn plenty of embarrassing stories from Ayumu's grandpa's old shogi buddy is just icing on the cake.

Speaking of icing on the cake, this episode gets a whole extra half star for giving some screen time to Urushi's adorable cat, Kin, who is a perfect and good girl that knows how to shake paws and everything. We also get the first Sakurako/Teruko side-story that doesn't feel entirely superfluous, which is how you really know the episode is cooking with gas. I'm always in favor of rom-coms giving us date scenes that actually feel like real dates that actual human teenagers would go on, complete with Takeru's utter inability to focus on the movie they're watching because of Sakurako's lovey-dovey behavior. Bonus points for having them watch a preposterous-looking post-apocalypse movie called “BEANS".

(I feel like this film is spoofing a specific property or cultural touchstone, but if it is, I couldn't figure it out for myself, so feel free to let me know in the comments if there is a joke that flew over my head, there.)

Really, the only unfortunate aspect of this episode is the element that has been holding Ayumu back the whole season, which is that it really is not impressive at all on the production front. It's never so ugly that it becomes impossible to enjoy, but the show simply looks plain and kind of dreary a lot of the time, with flat colors and lifeless direction that do nothing to elevate the material. I can imagine a version of the show that made the sweet before-bed phone call between Urushi and Ayumu one of the most romantic scenes of the year, but instead, it simply made me smile a little bit and think “Okay, that was pretty cute.” Keep all that in mind, because even though this episode has earned a solid score, I don't want to give the impression that When Will Ayumu Make His Move? has suddenly become a great show or something. It's still perfectly…okay. Sometimes it's even a solid “good enough”. This just happened to be the best version of “good enough" that the series has produced so far.


When Will Ayumu Make His Move? is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.

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