When Will Ayumu Make His Move? Episodes 9-10 Review
I was trying to describe to my wife the feeling of watching When Will Ayumu Make His Move?”, especially episodes like “I Want to Make Memories, Senpai”, and here’s the best I could come up with: It’s like when you’re at one of those big gatherings of extended family, and you’ve been stuck at the side of the table next to a few aunties and uncles you don’t know especially well. They get to have a long and surprisingly detailed conversation about something incredibly mundane and specific to their interests, like road trips to Arizona or the state of various Floridian golf courses. You are a de facto member of the conversation, but you have absolutely nothing meaningful to contribute, and it would be rude to simply leave, so you simply nod politely and occasionally interact with very simple questions and reactions (“Oh, really?” “I never knew that about the rest stops on I-40!” “Are sand traps and bunkers, like, the same thing?”). It isn’t the absolute worst time you could be having—at least you’re not stuck on the receiving end of one of Uncle Isekai’s rants about his “crazy ex-wives”—but it’s something you endure out of courtesy and obligation to the social contract, more than anything else.
Anyways, that’s my way of trying to find an interesting variation on the same old complaint I’ve had about Ayumu for a while now, which is that it can often be really boring. The first half of “I Want to Make Memories, Senpai” is especially dire, since it focuses on Sakurako and Takeru’s hunt for a four-leafed clover, and I’ve reached the point where I genuinely could not be bothered to care about this couple, and no amount of overdone romantic background music will change my mind. It’s very bizarre to me that the show is struggling so much to engender any sympathy or affection for its side characters since Takagi-san frequently mines some endearing material out of stories that have nothing to do with its leading couple. Alas, Rin remains the only other member of the cast who I look forward to getting any lines these days, and she doesn’t have much to do in either of these episodes, save for crushing Urushi’s hopes about a date with Ayumu.
Granted, the shogi club’s trip to the arcade is an improvement over the sappy stuff with Takeru and Sakurako, though I fully admit that a lot of my appreciation of the scene probably comes from the recent Yakuza kick I’ve been on (oh, what I wouldn’t give for a version of this show that starts Kazuma Kiryu and literally any of the dozen men he has an intense and borderline romantic bond within those games). It also gave me one of the only laughs of the episode, when Urushi manages to earn a high score on the punch-out machine with her giant head. Now that’s comedy.
Thankfully, “I Can’t Back Down, Senpai” is a massive step up from anything in the previous episode, if only because it is actually about something. It helps, too, when that “something” is finally allowing us more insight into Urushi’s family life after almost a whole season. The episode where we learned about her grandpa remains one of the best we’ve had so far, which makes me think that there must be some kind of positive correlation between a romantic comedy’s success and how much we are able to see its main characters as actual people who have, like, lives and stuff. Who would have thought?
It’s not an amazing episode, mind you, since the whole conflict between Urushi and her father is predicated on that really tired trope of kids apparently knowing literally nothing about their parents: Urushi has gone her entire life thinking that her dad would hate her being in shogi club when he really doesn’t care at all. Sure, it’s kind of funny that the guy’s apparently been sulking for a decade because his daughter is better at a board game than him, but it still makes the whole showdown between Papa Yaotome and Ayumu feel even more contrived and slight than it already appeared to be when the issue was whether Ayumu had knocked Urushi up via some secret, shogi-related tryst.
So, all in all, we’ve got one completely forgettable episode of Ayumu paired up with one that is “Mostly pretty okay, actually”, which is what we’ve come to expect from the show by now. I’m not sure how much attention Urushi’s upcoming class trip is going to get, since this series loves to delegate stuff like that to off-screen, for some reason, but I hope the story takes advantage of the opportunity to shake things up and get a change of scenery going. Lord knows we could use it.
When Will Ayumu Make His Move? Episodes 9-10 are currently streaming on HIDIVE.