The 10th episode of Apollon begins with the effects of Yurika’s departure and ends with another departure that was entirely unexpected. News of Yurika’s elopement meant that any reminders of her existence had to be removed from the school, including the award winning painting that Sentarou modeled for. After trying to help Sentarou to help recover emotionally from Yurika, Kaoru ends up helping Sentarou pass the tests that he needs just to make it to the 3rd year of high school. Then, Kaoru has two separate conversations with Ritsuko that seem to go nowhere, but her departing words after the 2nd one convince him to successfully confess his feelings for her. Months pass before Seiji throws down the gauntlet at Kaoru and Sentarou over who can win at the school festival. Before they can play again, however, Sentarou’s father was about to return home.
The direction of the rest of the story was set pretty early on when Ritsuko, Kaoru and Sentarou were talking about the classes for third year, which were to be broken up by grade. While Kaoru and Ritsuko were going to take entrance exams next year to pursue what they wanted to do with their lives, Sentarou couldn’t even see himself making it to the 3rd year of high school. This setup a dynamic where Sentarou became the one with no future.
It’s really the culmination of things that have seen Sentarou’s life fall apart. First, he was the one who introduced Kaoru to Ritsuko and inadvertently set up Yurika with Jun. Then came Yurika’s elopement which brought back all those feelings he had for her again. Now, his alcoholic father is returning and he simply doesn’t want to live with him anymore. So he chooses to run away at the end of the episode.
Then again, is Sentarou such a tragic character after all? It could be argued that he simply gets by living at the moment when it is comfortable for him. He’s had at least a couple opportunities to change his fate. There was the invitation to Yurika that he hid behind Kaoru to get. If he went on his own there, maybe the situation ultimately turns out better. Then there was the show at the bar where he refused to play after the racial abuse from the drunk American. Jun continued to perform and left an impression on Yurika while Sentarou was sulking away. Then came the school festival where he chose to make his place as The Olympus’s drummer temporary because he just wanted to play with Kaoru. However by making his choice at the end, he has decided that the comfort he feels playing with Kaoru and talking to Ritsuko is far outweighed by having to live with his father again. At the same time, he was also running away from Sachiko and the other children who would no longer have anyone there who could protect them if their father went back on the drink.
Of course, one could not go through this episode without considering Kaoru and Ritsuko finally coming together. The way it played out in this episode was a reverse of how it got to this point before. So it began with Kaoru believing Ritsuko definitely made a mistake or that she had made the gloves out of leftover yarn because there was no way she didn’t like Sentarou. Then, he was doubting that Ritsuko liked him because Sentarou had so much going for him. Then he was trying to convince Ritsuko that she liked Sentarou. Then he confessed and almost made an ill-advised kiss. Before finally, he wanted to make her happy again as his raison d’être.
As a viewer, those interactions leading up to the confession were incredibly frustrating. With Kaoru refusing to believe he had a shot, and Ritsuko completely changing her approach from last week, it was hard to think anything would actually happen. However, I think it was entirely right that she tried to make Kaoru confess again. After turning him down before, it would have been unfair on him if she changed her mind as he was trying to recover. So it was hint after hint, before she finally dropped the bomb that his words had kept her going and that he needed to confidence to go after her. What followed was the fever-induced bravery on Kaoru’s part that so nearly paid off in a kiss, but actually meant months of being a couple.
As for where the show goes from here, I don’t see much going Sentarou’s way now. He will either have to be coaxed back by Sachiko and his father, or he will have to leave entirely. He seems prepared for the latter, but is he entirely ready to throw away his friends and siblings just to live a comfortable life away from his father? Who knows at this point?