There are quite a bit of changes to how Sakura Trick is presented as of this episode. Some of these changes, from a technical point of view, can only be viewed as positive. For example, DEEN seems to have gotten enough money to significantly improve in-between animation, bar episode 1.
But enough about that and let me do what I do best yet again: overthink lesbian Chinese cartoons! As I say in almost all my posts about Sakura Trick, most people don’t give much credit to this show’s fairly intricate romance plot. Granted that this is an anime marketed as a slice of life comedy, people will look at it with that perspective. But as I have seen here myself, Haruka and Yuu’s relationship is improving one step at a time.
Sakura Trick has accomplished more in four episodes what most romance anime won’t even bother to touch in thirteen. In the latter part of episode 1, Haruka’s insecurity about what their first kiss meant to Yuu played an important role. Episode 2 and 3 was mostly about how much Haruka is willing to do for her “friend”. Episode 4 is a little different though, and the message in the first half is surprisingly deep. At the start of the episode, Haruka says something along these lines:
“My relationship with Yuu-chan is a bit different from friendship. [Kissing] is something special that we only do with each other. Yuu-chan is slightly shorter than me, so our eyes don’t meet very often. But I guess that’s what I like about it.”
By itself, it doesn’t tell us much. However, by the end of the first half, we get this:
“Today, Yuu-chan was taller than me.”
This brings us to the whole point of the first half. When Haruka and Yuu started their special relationship, we mostly see Haruka as the more dominant of the two. She’s quite manipulative, even. She tricks Yuu into their first kiss, throws tantrums to get kisses and a bunch of other things. In this episode though, Haruka’s tactics to get Yuu to do what she wants fail, much to her dismay.
It’s interesting to see Yuu shoot down Haruka’s advances even when the latter is practically begging for attention. It may seem cruel at first  , but when you think about it, this is the first time that Yuu didn’t give in to Haruka’s manipulative ways. There has always been this “imbalance” with romantic relationships in Japanese popular media, and it’s especially true for yuri and yaoi  . That particular scene shows that Yuu trying to balance their relationship, and that she wouldn’t always be carried away by Haruka, which is, in the end, a good thing in a healthy relationship. I think that’s what “Today, Yuu-chan was taller than me” really meant.
The second half is mostly just telling us again that Haruka is clingy and a tad obsessive, but we also see that she doesn’t react to romantic advances from just any girl, not even Yuzu. Perhaps this is just for comedic purposes, but it may imply that Haruka has a single target sexuality. She’s attracted to Yuu and Yuu alone. Some say this is a bad thing, but I personally don’t mind it that much.
As for Mitsuki, she has completely fallen for Haruka’s caring personality, yet she tries to find ways to justify following her around and asking others to keep track of her activities. She even has those cute and very innocent daydreams about her, in contrast to Haruka’s naughtier streak. Despite being older than Yuu, she is very shy and naïve. She clearly has zero experience when it comes to love.
I like how Sakura Trick doesn’t make every little romantic development a big deal compared to, say, Chuu2Koi. It retains a certain level of subtlety behind all the standard slice-of-life fare. If Tachi makes another yuri manga series, I hope it would not be on a 4-koma magazine. Maybe then she would realize her true potential.
- This was most likely Kotone’s plan. She likes to play pranks on her friends, as evidenced by a lot of events in the show.
- In Japanese lesbian culture, couples usually fall into a tachi/neko (タチ/ネコ) dynamic. This might give you some insight about this topic. Coincidentally, the author of the Sakura Trick manga goes by the pen name Tachi (タチ).