The wholesome innocence couldn’t last forever, could it? “Spots to Kiss” finally addresses the issue of physical intimacy in Nasa and Tsukasa’s marriage, which TONIKAWA has largely tiptoed around. It’s a candid episode, sometimes awkward, other times endearing, still other times amusing, and in some spots hilarious. Thankfully, it never lapses into cringe-worthy territory, which is one area this series always manages to avoid. As it stands, this week’s outing showcases a young couple digging just a bit deeper into a more “adult” aspect of marriage, and it does so in the charming, sweet way we’ve come to expect from this show.
Admittedly, you wouldn’t anticipate the episode going this route based on its early scenes. “Spots to Kiss” instead opens with Nasa playing Mr. Fix-It, first by repairing Kaname’s vacuum cleaner, and then helping Aya prepare for her upcoming math exams. On their own, these scenes aren’t much more than low-key comedy and another chance to showcase Nasa’s book smarts and knack for mechanical things, but later on, their significance becomes clearer. Nasa can repair a vacuum or prepare a whole set of math exercises with practically no effort at all, but when it comes to giving his wife a massage or complimenting her on her hair? These make about as much sense to Nasa as the Pythagorean Theorem does to Aya.
One really has to admire the contrast between these initial scenes and the rest of the episode. Nasa is completely at ease in more “logical” worlds—when he’s fixing Kaname’s vacuum, he confidently explains the scope of the problem and throws around phrases like “integrated circuits” with no trouble. Similarly, he can take one look at Aya’s math books and quizzes, predict what her exam will look like, and effortlessly churn out a series of worksheets for her to practice with. The episode even takes a moment to reflect, as Nasa explains that his deep knowledge stems from his admiration for Newton, Kepler, and countless other people before him. At times, Nasa can seem like a robot, but this scene really stands out because it establishes a believable motivation and human passion behind Nasa’s intelligence. There’s no ego in it, he just loves to learn, and he loves sharing his knowledge with those around him.
As comfortable as Nasa is with math and science, he’s equally uncomfortable with romance, and the later scenes in “Spots to Kiss” do a great job showing how far he really has to go. What’s especially notable this time, though, is that Tsukasa is still pretty naïve herself in this regard, even if she’s still way ahead of Nasa. The massage scene is a great case in point: Tsukasa can instantly recognize Nasa’s bad posture and tension as he works on his laptop, and the massage she gives Nasa to relax him is way better than the one he gives to her in return. But it turns out both of them are still uncomfortable with being touched, even when it’s their partner doing it. As much as they’ve gotten to know each other, they’re still not completely open with each other physically.
The topic of physical contact and intimacy gets even more candid shortly afterwards when Kaname asks Nasa how many times he and Tsukasa kiss each day. Kaname has already established herself as “that friend” who asks all the overly personal questions, which are as uncomfortable for Nasa and Tsukasa as they are hilarious for us, but this might be her funniest moment yet. Her rant about “researching” sexy images and videos on Twitter and YouTube, and her list of different places on your partner’s body to kiss (!!), is an absolute riot. As direct as Kaname is, though, this isn’t just the writers forcing comedy and awkwardness onto the main couple. In her own weird way, Kaname is ultimately doing this to help strengthen Nasa and Tsukasa’s bond, so the whole effort still comes across as genuine.
For all Kaname’s goading, it’s ultimately the sight of Yanagi and Taniguchi kissing in the park that makes the biggest impression on Nasa and Tsukasa, and it’s a striking moment on multiple levels. On the one hand, it confirms that Yanagi and Taniguchi’s date in the previous episode was no one-off, but on the other hand, it also emphasizes the huge difference between their more mature relationship and the relatively innocent marriage of Nasa and Tsukasa. As older, more experienced adults, Yanagi and Taniguchi feel much more comfortable engaging in physical intimacy, even out in public. Nasa and Tsukasa’s shocked reaction, coupled with Nasa’s comment, “they’re already like that?!” drives home just how unfamiliar this aspect of a relationship really is for both of them.
Season 2 of TONIKAWA has focused on Nasa and Tsukasa taking small steps towards becoming closer, but “Spots to Kiss” is the “biggest small step” they’ve taken so far. Encouraged by Kaname’s list and their experience in the park, they finally share several kisses with one another after dinner that night. It’s a touching finale that highlights the conflicting emotions they’re feeling with this new experience: awkward blushing and nervous questions, and then easing tensions as they realize it’s not so scary. On some level, they’re still playing house, and they’re still in a phase where they’re imitating a typical adult romance more than living it. But considering Nasa and Tsukasa could barely sleep in the same bed together at the start of the season, “Spots to Kiss” marks a breakthrough moment for their relationship.