The road to romance is rarely a straightforward one, in both real life and in shoujo anime. And with seemingly one more episode to go, My Love Story With Yamada-kun at Lv999 can’t confirmedly couple its main characters just yet. Thus we’re set up for one final stretch of pining introspection and entertainingly agonizing near-misses and misunderstandings. It’s engaging in the way we’ve come to expectedly enjoy from the show by this point, even as we’ve got our teeth gritted and veins popping out of our heads over how close Yamada and Akane get by this episode.
The movement up to the threshold of crossing the confessional line is the main feature of this one. After weeks of ambiguity that was fun to follow and analyze in its own way, this episode, early on, fully confirms that Akane is crushing on Yamada, and she is aware of it. So are Eita and Momo, naturally, with the latter’s time-skipping of Akane’s hemming and hawing being a great little gag. Momo’s delivery of just bluntly shouting out what she knows Akane’s feelings are and what her next course of action should be, so she and Eita can cut quickly to more salient elements of advice, is the sort of feature I so appreciate in this show. Akane’s wavering is what got her into this situation in the first place (and will continue to leave her stranded there through this episode), so she’s got to get over it eventually.
Akane, of course, does not manage to confess to Yamada within this episode. Whether that’s for lack of trying depends on how you read the situation. After being hit with the understanding last episode that directly putting yourself out into something is the best, healthiest approach, our heroine hunkers back down into her headspace here. By my estimation, Akane’s anxieties that she can’t find the right time or place to make her confession to Yamada are but excuses. It’s a reason to put off shifting the status quo between them and maintain a holding pattern that, while agonizing, is still preferable to the terrifying unknown.
To sympathize with Akane though, the whole sequence of her struggling internally with her decision rings as a realistic assessment of how we can find ourselves holding onto these kinds of feelings. Akane is of the personality type that must always maintain helpfulness and convenience to the people in her life, so alleviating her issues at the expense of imposing feelings on someone would be a hard hurdle to force herself past. It’s easy to fall into the question of how “necessary” it is for us to reveal romantic feelings to people in our lives, especially if we perceive a conflict between our relief at doing so, which we might see as selfish, and the inconvenience the awareness of those feelings might bring to the person we care about enough to not want to stress out that way.
Akane’s black hole of self-doubt brain demons is one that, obviously, I find super-relatable, but I think it works broadly because her issues acknowledge the different experiences of others. Akane recognizes that so many other people do not have these issues, and can take that direct approach, only taking it as confirmation that there must be something wrong with her, which naturally only leads her to disqualify herself even more from being worthy of Yamada’s affection. It’s a feeling that’s circled back to by the end of this episode, as Yamada more cleanly confesses his sources of lacking self-confidence. By that point, Akane has fully let herself presume his problems are worse than her own, so she does that thing where she puts her own feelings for what she sees as Yamada’s sake. It is the same pattern the pair have been circling basically since the show started, and it leaves us in the audience absolutely screaming at them to get over it and smush themselves together. But it’s a positive, entertaining kind of screaming. It’s engaging television.
It’s complemented by the big ol’ plot twist that does manifest as an advancement in this episode: Tsubaki is the one who manages to confess to Yamada! The irony is that, having effectively gotten the same advice as Akane re: boss battles and boyfriends last week, she squeaks out her true feelings in the least appropriately timed, yet raw and direct way possible. It’s something that had to happen as much as Akane’s eventual admission will be, even as Tsubaki’s immediate understanding of what she’s done gives way to her knowing recollection of exactly how Yamada usually responds in these situations. They share a stark scene in the rain here, the weight of the umbrella and the drops coming down with the force of the gravity of the situation. It’s compounded by how the show illustrates the complications brought about by this confession, Yamada taking a rain check on his promised phone conversation with Akane and feeling guilty about it almost immediately after.
With such practiced portrayals of these kinds of real-world emotional struggles, does Yamada-kun at Lv999 necessarily need to also include an aside misunderstanding from Eita about who actually confessed to Yamada? Probably not, but it lends a little levity to the aftermath study scene instead of leaving us with only Yamada angsting over the situation. There is enough messiness here that I’m anxious about if or how this will all wrap up by the adaptation’s season finale next week. But again, anxious in a good way.
My Love Story With Yamada-kun at Lv999 is currently streaming on
Chris is keeping busy keeping up with the new anime season and is excited to have you along. You can also find him writing about other stuff over on his blogas well as spamming fanart retweets on his Twitterfor however much longer that lasts.