After a chance meeting with Sheryl Nome... sorry, I mean Yurika Fukahori... last week, Sentarou is very much in love - although slightly dim person that he is, he doesn't quite seem to have realised it yet.
Luckily for him he has Kaoru around to point out that he's as lovesick as a man can get, and furthermore his new-found friend seems jam-packed with ideas to get Sentarou together with the new apple of his eye, starting out with a group date featuring the three of them alongside Ritsuko. Needless to say, Kaoru clearly has an agenda of his own in suggesting this idea, as he eyes the possibility of getting closer to Ritsuko as a result.
Despite an utterly bungled attempt to ask Yurika out, somehow our group date comes to pass, and while Sentarou's initial shyness slowly breaks down as he and Yurika begin to get on swimmingly, things aren't quite going to plan for Kaoru as he soon comes to realise that Ritsuko is decidedly upset about something. Under the assumption that Ritsuko actually has eyes for Sentarou, Kaoru tries his best to reverse what he feels is a betrayal of his female friend's feelings, but the Sentarou-Yurika ship has already well and truly sailed. But what does this mean for Kaoru? Even though his assumptions seem to suggest that Ritsuko is beyond him, it certainly isn't going to stop him from trying.
Even though this week's instalment of Kids on the Slope threatened to fall into that time-honoured hole of romantic misunderstandings so beloved of love stories in anime, the episode managed to keep its head above water on a few counts - firstly, courtesy of having grown a trio of main characters (including Ritsuko) who we've grown to like pretty quickly over these three episodes and thus care about their feelings and actions, and secondly by having our male protagonists actually have the guts to show their feelings to the girls they like, however stiltedly. Indeed, Kaoru's behaviour in particular ultimately saves him come the end of the episode after threatening to keep silent for too long in the face of these misunderstandings. On top of all of this, Kids on the Slope has actually managed to keep its powder impressively dry as to Ritsuko's feelings throughout this episode - some of her behaviour could be read one of two ways to at least add a sheen of believability to any doubts as to where her heart lies, and we still aren't entirely sure about this even come the end of the episode. It's a small yet powerful hook to hold over the audience, and no doubt it'll be played out a little further over the coming weeks - hopefully it'll make for a suitably strong continuing story against the backdrop of the show's increasingly enjoyable music and aesthetic.