Pool parties and the pressure of adult responsibilities.
Kiyosumi Shirakawa is a twenty four year old office lady at a publishing company with a lot on her mind. Enough to cancel an active taxi ride while she is in the middle of a trip.
She is sick of a professional culture of after work drinking parties. At the very least, if this time is being demanded of her anyway she would rather put it to use it for actual work. The only part of late night work drinks she likes are the moments she gets to walk around for a bit in the empty calmness of night. Which she just happened to have started doing of her own accord, having brought her taxi ride to an abrupt stop.
As one might imagine for someone who has visited Nazuna for massage services: Kiyosumi has fond memories of the experience. Ecstatic, joyous stress relief from her personal touch. Nazuna will be able to help her, for sure. Assuming her business is still open this late.
Which brings us to where we left off last episode.
Nazuna, having given Ko a complete service run and worked herself up to eat, has zero interest in taking on another client herself at the moment. Even if Kiyosumi is a returning customer. Nazuna was spending time reassuring Ko how he is her current exclusive blood juice box. She is not drinking from anyone else. Nazuna might be fine to work on a client without eating, knowing she will drink from Ko later. But, pivoting to an immediate other person right before she was able to secure her meal with Ko puts her in a bit of a bind. She may not be able to stop herself from biting at this exact moment. Which would not be great. Cheating, you could say.
As was the case last week: she may be desperate for fresh income, but will not do this job right now. Hence all her concessions to Ko. She is, in her own way, being as serious about this situation as she can.
Even if this means she goes off to play PlayStation in the other room.
Ko gets to don a white medical outfit from the supply of uniforms Nazuna keeps around. Kiyosumi gets to change into a provided set of blue athletics attire. Which, as Nazuna was adamant about, keeps the experience more professional and legitimate.
This said, there is an understandable concern a lot of folks would have going into this scenario. It may as well be a blazing neon sign in the dead of night. How will this sequence of events come across for the anime?
This series may not be shy about being sexually charged. But even so: Ko giving a massage treatment to a woman almost twice his age can come across in quite different ways, depending on where the camera goes.
The massage time Ko and Kiyosumi do have is quite restrained in its direction and handling. Which I appreciated. The shot composition is almost all either mid-room perspectives or closeups on the faces of one or the other. Ko works a bit on her lower back with a towel or blanket separating his hand from her body, as well as some shoulder work. Even when Kiyosumi find herself unimpressed with not getting the Nazuna treatment and requests more pressure, Ko is not by any stretch sending her to heaven.
Ko is quite reassuring to himself about how he is doing this for the money, and not for another kiss from Nazuna. Which is not an outright lie, per say. Having some more spending money means he could treat Nazuna more. He does feel bad about how much she tends to cover their date expenses. But the offer of a kiss did come only after she offered to split the massage fee with Ko.
But this turns into an external dialogue he begins to have with Kiyosumi as well. She wants to know how old he is. Why is he working? And so on. For his part, Ko does not dodge or lie the whole time. He even gets into the subject of why he stopped going to school, even though he used to be a great model student. All of which to an outside observer makes his situation also seem quite sympathetic. Kiyosumi was at first worried and put off, as she did expect to see Nazuna for a deep tissue massage. But she finds it easy to have an open chat with Ko.
Which is also healing and stress relieving, in its own way.
She remembers her own time as a teenager, and how the night used to feel.
Much like how Kiyosumi interrupted a massage session, her own is also cut short. In this case, by a call from her boss. Even at this hour. She was on a taxi ride before, after all. She begins to cry. She is so very tired. And quite sick of going to the office for after work drinks. She is thankful to Ko for his time, but she has to go.
Ko might be a bit of a bonehead at times. As is his right as a fourteen year old. But even he picks up on identifying the situation in front of him, and seeing himself in her shoes. This woman may be older than him. But, she is in an unhappy cycle similar to how he found himself.
Nazuna may have slipped away to let Ko handle the client. But, the moment he calls for her help she shifts through the wall to check out the scene. There is the trust she would respond, as well as the trust in how Ko would only yell for Nazuna if something serious came up. Ko is furious at the idea of Kiyosumi needing to go to work at this hour, and wants Nazuna to stop her at all costs. It is the most enraged he has ever been.
Nazuna throwing Kiyosumi out of the apartment window was not his intended course of action.
But a near death experience will by all means put the breaks on someone for a bit.
With Ko and by extension Nazuna grabbing her on the way down lest she hit the pavement, everyone can clear the air with the new change of scenery. Ko is open about not only thinking it would be wrong to let Kiyosumi leave to go to work at this hour, but also tells her more about his personal goals. He wants to be a vampire. Nazuna is also a vampire. Nazuna does not stop him, or even disprove of him saying so. On her end, Kiyosumi is still going to go to work at this hour. A teenager can make certain grand declarations of right and wrong, but she does have her responsibilities. Even if her current job makes her want to cry. But, she will feel a lot more relieved from having taken the time today to visit. She was able to have a good conversation and remember some things about herself.
Nazuna is smiling from the sidelines and is proud.
Although, to return to the idea of Ko being a bit of a teenage bonehead sometimes: his parting declaration is to tell Kiyosumi if he becomes a vampire, he can turn her into one someday. If she wants. Maybe her days will be easier, if she knows she has the potential of this escape option in some unknown future!
Which is a… rather bold declaration, as Nazuna tells him back in her apartment. Nazuna was having a nice time before this particular bit.
As the audience should put together right away: Ko would need to fall in love with Nazuna to become a vampire first. Then Kiyosumi would need to fall in love with him in turn.
Was it a big theatrical thing to say in the moment as a positive thinking send off for Kiyosumi? Maybe.
But also, not the most thoughtful thing when Nazuna is right there watching.
Ko will learn, one way or another.
With all the heady adult responsibility talk this week, the core couple can use the rest of the episode to blow off some steam.
The trouble is: What to do?
To be even more declarative and specific: Ko should come up with something fun to do with Nazuna.
She wants him to do more of the work coming up with plans. The two of them will get bored doing the same things all the time. She may also want him to make up for his actions from the other night with Kiyosumi. Which is fair across all points.
Tossing out a whole list of top of the head ideas to see what sticks out to Nazuna, she perks up at the notion of going out to a night pool. As in, swimming not billiards. Which is one way to go about getting a swimsuit trip into a work of vampire fiction.
Nazuna and Ko are not quite crashing the complementary family swimming area at a sleepy chain hotel. Night pool scenes like this tend to be akin to outdoor nightclubs. Drenched in neon and packed with patrons. Social media selfies are moving faster than the drinks on offer.
The swimsuit reveal is an interesting little mini milestone in an advancing relationship.
Almost by definition, anything you pick out is going to be a different look from how your partner has seen you most other days. Ko is curious as to what Nazuna will change into. But the more he gets to thinking about it, he considers her normal attire is itself quite like a swimsuit.
How striking could her swimwear even be?
Subverted expectations can be quite attractive.
Nazuna enjoys showing off her new look. A black skirt, neck choker, and thick horn-rimmed glasses from a previous gag. Open toe sandals with straps going up her ankles. A simple white T-shirt, but the high fashion kind with a lopsided neck area. Which shows off a lone shoulder strap to hint at the actual micro bikini she is wearing underneath.
Ko is beside himself with how taken he is by the outfit. Much in the same way he was the other week when Nazuna had her hair down. She looks super comfortable and casual. Ko does need to fall in love with Nazuna to have any chance of becoming a vampire. And he finds her girlfriend energy powerful and captivating. In this moment, his heart is skipping beats and his brain is on fire.
Similar feelings murmur about the rest of the pool party. For all the swimsuits around, everyone else has their eyes on Nazuna as well. All the more as she has to move around the whole place to a second story bar to get herself a beer.
This does provide for a bit of a fun meta-textual cameo moment. Creepy Nuts, the hip hop duo who have been the group behind the vocal music tracks throughout the anime series, start chatting up Nazuna. I mentioned a bit about Creepy Nuts and their connection to the original manga series back in the first episode. They are not performing music for this open night pool club, so their presence may not be obvious to some viewers. But it is nice to see them get to have a little moment here as themselves in the show.
Nazuna uses the time to tease Ko from a distance, wondering if the person she came with left. It might be fun to hang out with these other guys, if they are willing to pay for her drinks.
While Ko does come to retrieve her, he is none too pleased about the whole dynamic. The club has a lot of people talking about Nazuna. Creepy Nuts do not challenge him at all. After Nazuna departs, the musicians really just shake their heads to themselves about Ko allowing his girl to even be in such a situation to begin with. They even wish him good luck with her.
Ko and Nazuna each had moments this episode when they were quite pleased and taken by what they saw from the other. As well as pushing some buttons regarding what they were comfortable hearing from or about the other. Ko made a foolish promise to someone in front of Nazuna. She teased him at the club to have him stand up and come after her.
Ko did have a nice idea to go swimming tonight. So to resolve this situation, she dunks both of them into his school pool.
Now they can enjoy the water together without anyone else, in ways only they can.