In episode 4 of Sasaki and Miyano, our titular pair continue to inch ever-closer to emotional intimacy. After the past 3 episodes of slow-burn romantic tension, a breakthrough doesn’t seem too far off.
Sasaki’s at his limit
Entrance exams are fast approaching for Sasaki, and the realization that he only has a year before he graduates high school has him reflecting on the past 6 months he’s spent bonding with Miyano. Sasaki fell hard and fast for Miyano, just as you’d expect from someone with his bold and self-confident personality. So to say that holding himself back from openly expressing these feelings has been torturous is no exaggeration. However, having discerned Miyano’s discomfort at being put in “real life BL scenarios”, he’s managed to keep displays of physical affection to a minimum – recoiling his hand when he has the urge to embrace him. In this episode we see him hesitate to remove a petal that’s fallen into Miyano’s hair. It isn’t until two guys from another school walk past that he remembers not all physical contact is romantic. Seeing him then keep that petal as a memento was the cherry on top of an already adorable scene.
For Sasaki, being in Miyano’s company is what matters most to him, and he’s understandably worried about how an open declaration of love could jeopardize that – which is probably why he opted for a quiet confession to a (seemingly) sleeping Miyano in last week’s episode. But as anyone who’s ever been in romance limbo would know, there comes a point where you just need closure. In times like these, one must decide whether to confess and expose themselves to rejection, or simply cut their losses and attempt to move on. Since hiding his feelings doesn’t come naturally to Sasaki, I expect we’ll see some development in this area next episode.
Self-doubt and insecurity
As Sasaki has increasingly struggled to conceal his romantic feelings for him, Miyano has slowly begun to realize that Sasaki’s feelings may not be purely platonic. But after overhearing his whispered confession, he can no longer rationalize Sasaki’s behavior as being overly friendly, nor his flirtatious remarks as innocuous jokes. This causes Miyano to confront a topic he’s been conveniently side-stepping until now: his sexuality. We’ve already seen in previous episodes that this is a sensitive topic for Miyano. Though he describes himself as a fudanshi, he prickles at any implication that he’s actually attracted to guys. Living in a heteronormative society that celebrates traditional masculinity, he clearly fears being perceived as different.
Discovering your sexuality can be an incredibly vulnerable experience, so Miyano’s confusion and insecurity feels relatable. Not to mention, he’s coming to terms with these feelings during high school – an environment that’s not often conducive to freely being oneself. Miyano’s cute and girlish looks don’t help in this department. It’s something that numerous classmates have commented on, and while these remarks don’t seem to be meant as insults, they only make Miyano feel more anxious and uncomfortable about his identity. So it comes as no surprise when he clings on to the memory of a crush on a girl as “proof” of his heterosexuality and masculinity.
Sasaki and Miyano is at its core a light-hearted and fluffy series. So despite the heavy dose of self-reflection in episode 4 it never feels too serious, thanks to the insertion of chibi characterizations and cartoonish sound effects. There are also plenty of humorous moments to help keep things light. Watching Miyano go from gay panic to sheer embarrassment at imagining who would be top and bottom in he and Sasaki’s relationship was particularly amusing. Nevertheless, this episode established the series as more than just tongue-in-cheek commentary on the BL genre. As someone who doesn’t watch shows purely for moe, I appreciate this.
Ogasawara needs a fudanshi’s advice
Speaking of humour, Ogasawara is a character that provided a lot of comedic moments in episode 4. He continues to demonstrate a typical high school boy aversion to anything remotely gay or feminine, but through Miyano he’s trying to understand the whole “BL thing”. As a delinquent himself, he’s concerned about his girlfriend’s enthusiasm for delinquent ukes in the BL manga she consumes. He fears that, as his partner, she wants him to play into those characteristics. Miyano gives some sound advice here; that someone’s preferences in erotica and romantic fiction aren’t always mutually exclusive with what they want from their partner.
When Ogasawara asks Miyano if that’s also the case with him and Sasaki, Miyano is quick to clarify that they’re not dating. But this conversation seems to serve as a lesson for Miyano. As someone who’s only viewed same-sex relationships through the lens of trope-ridden BL media, he has a limited view of what queer dating looks like. Now that he’s ever so gradually coming around to the idea that he may be attracted to guys, he’ll have to untangle these preconceived notions. The episode ends with Miyano admitting to himself that his chest feels tight when he’s around Sasaki, and pondering if he feels the same. It will be interesting to see who’ll be the first to act on this tension in the coming episodes.
Episode 4 of Sasaki and Miyano is available to watch on Funimation in select regions, as well as Bilibili. If you enjoyed episode 4, don’t forget to vote for it in our Anime of the Week poll.
All images via Funimation.
©2022 Sho Harusono/KADOKAWA/”Sasaki and Miyano” Production Committee