And the Zany Schemes get zanier, tangled up in double bluffs, double crossings, and a lot of yelling… honestly I half-expected someone’s fake arm to go flying across the screen, a la Arrested Development, followed by the moral “And that’s why you don’t prank your friends!”
Long story short, Kitamura finds Taiga and Ryuji in the morning—neither of them have slept a wink given that their rooms are apparently haunted—and asks why they’re trying to scare Minorin. Clearly the ploy to spook her so Ryuji could come to her rescue wasn’t as covert as they’d hoped, but Taiga covers their butts by saying Minorin loves spooky stuff and they’re trying to make her happy. Kitamura, being Kitamura, is like SURE COOL! and declares he’s going to help them with all he’s got. There’s a cavern near the beach that Ami knows inside out, so with her help he’ll set it up as the ultimate haunted house experience. Taiga and Ryuji didn’t want to scare Minorin that badly, but now they’re roped into a scheme even zanier than their original one. Will everyone’s friendships and psyches come out intact? We can only hope.
The whole plan looks to go bust, though, when Ami refuses to help. She planned the beach trip originally as an excuse to cosy up to Ryuji, and given that she’s now spending it eavesdropping on his cute cooking escapades and bonding sessions with Minorin, she’s evidently less than impressed. It’s pretty obvious she knows he has a crush, and refuses to help with the cave exploration unless Ryuji admits it. When he clams up she says “your loss” and saunters past with her chin up and her bikini-clad boobs forward. As if his affection for Minorin wasn’t already complicated for him personally by his evident attraction to Ami, now it seems Ami is intent on throwing a spanner in the works.
But once they’re down at the beach eating the lunch that Ryuji and Minorin lovingly prepared together, Ami decides she will help, but only on her own terms, and invites Minorin to see the cavern. Kitamura has rigged the series of tunnels with booby traps like slimy tofu on a string and ominous messages written in tomato sauce… all of which, naturally, Minorin manages to miss. Except for the slime and woman’s hair Ryuji finds, just like the ones left in his bed the night before, which genuinely freaks her the hell out. Kitamura gives Ryuji the thumbs-up for adding his own spooky bits, after which, of course, comes the “but if you didn’t put it there and I didn’t put it there, then who did?!” moment. The only one not fussed with the ghostly business is Ami, who gets so bored she just steps into a wall cavity to “take a shortcut”. Ryuji, in a panic, follows her, leaving him separated from the rest of the group.
Ami pretends to be lost, Ryuji freaks out, and she laughs at him, being Ami The Little Shit to the best of her abilities. She also takes the chance, stuck with him alone in a cave, to drop some serious advice—he and Minorin aren’t a good match, because he idolises her too much. He sees her as the sun, and if he gets too close he’s going to burn up. What would be a good match for him is someone he’s on more even ground with, someone he doesn’t adore so much… you know, someone like Ami. Until that somewhat self-indulgent part, it’s actually quite a poignant observation. We’re only now getting some actual interaction between Minorin and Ryuji, and only now just beginning to see them get to know each other… otherwise, what does he know about Minorin as a person? What does he see in her, apart from that bright shining girl that he fawned over in episode 3?
These musings are interrupted by a terrific scream, and they rush back through the cave to find Kitamura and Taiga freaking out because something took Minorin. Kitamura bravely goes after her into a tight gap in the cave wall, then lets out his own yell of terror. Spooky, echoing voices fill the cavern. Ami is finally shaken out of her nonplussed attitude, and everyone is freaking out, except for Taiga, who dives ferociously into the wall-hole to get into a fistfight with the ghost who’s stolen her best friend and crush. I feel like Taiga would make an excellent guest star on Ghost Adventures.
Aaaaand once Taiga falls through the wall, everyone discovers that Minorin and Kitamura are fine—and laughing their asses of, because they successfully scared everybody else. Minorin, you see, caught wind that Taiga and Ryuji were trying to creep her out, but they were doing such a paltry job she was inspired to show them how it’s done. She actually loves spooky stuff—she only tells people she hates it because then they’re more likely to try and scare her, unwittingly providing the fun of her life. Again, I have to note that she and Kitamura—her partner in crime here—are strangely compatible. You know the old saying, those that scare together stay together.
All the ghostly shenanigans resolved, the gang relaxes on the beach and plays with some handheld fireworks, except Ami, who leaves looking disgruntled. Minorin asks Ryuji why he was trying to scare her, seemingly much more oblivious to the whole scheme than Ami was, pointing out that it’s just not in Ryuji’s nature to do something that would make someone feel bad. It’s a good observation, and he’s totally caught out, so he reverts to their ghost/love metaphor from the night before: he wanted her to see a ghost. Minorin laughs, and they manage to have a nice little conversation… that Taiga observes, looking way less happy than she should considering that the whole plan (whether or not it backfired spectacularly) was to get them together.
The beach trip ends with ghost-prank-buddies Kitamura and Minorin leaving together, and Taiga and Ryuji departing as a pair as well. Minorin and Ryuji farewell each other quite fondly, and Taiga, again, looks… a little reluctant. It’s entirely a different set of expressions from back in episode 3 where she was prodding him in the eyes and calling him gross—it’s something more quiet and contemplative, and a little upset, almost in parallel with Ami’s knowing frowns. There’s a lot of underlying emotional developments going on among the hilarious nudity and spooky spooky prank fun. Something has undeniably shifted in the dynamic of the group on this holiday, though whether it’s what Taiga and Ryuji planned for is another matter entirely…