Continuing what is virtually a character by character tour, episode seven of Hatsukoi Limited introduces us properly to Dobashi, the quietly confident girl who shocks Kei at the beginning of the episode by admitting that yes, she is dating the guy with the glasses who we saw briefly last episode.
From here, we're regaled as to how this relationship between Dobashi and Terai (the boy in question) developed, from Dobashi coaching him to try and improve his abjectly awful tennis skills, and in the process sowing the seeds of a burgeoning love story. Of course, such things never run smoothly, and this is a particular problem in this case on account of the two personalities in question - While Dobashi is clearly quietly driven and not afraid to speak her mind, her general demenour makes her (and particularly her feelings) incredibly hard to read, meaning that people either get the wrong idea or are intimidated by her. Indeed, I'd say that Terai suffers here on both counts, unable to progress their relationship himself on account of his low self-esteem and generally slightly shy personality.
As this troubled pair boil away in the background, we do get some brief segues away from them, grabbing a little of the aftermath of Kei and Kusuda's Christmas Eve as they both seem rather smitten with the other's Christmas gift, while Koyoi delivers us a frankly hilarious New Year shrine visit with her brother, where she disparages herself for wishing for world peace over bigger breasts after a close encounter with Yamamoto's cleavage, which gets her fretting about her "love rivalry" regarding her hapless brother all the more.
If there's one thing to be said about Hatsukoi Limited, it's that it certainly isn't content to simply stick to the samey, cut and dried relationships posited by many school-based series, giving us everything from an unrequited dose of sisterly love (a direct counterpoint of the occasionally used anime fantasy of a cute sister seducing her brother) to that intriguing situation between Kei and Kusuda which has caused quite some discussion on other 'Blogs. In terms of said relationships, the one portrayed here between Dobashi and Terai is perhaps the most fascinating of the lot to me personally, as I found myself appreciating both Dobashi's focused yet mysterious nature and Terai's cheerful yet shy approach to things. Despite Kei's shocked reaction, the more you look at it the more sensible it becomes that this is the show's first successful coupling - Although she may not always announce it clearly, Dobashi clearly knows what she likes and what she wants, appreciating Terai's efforts where many others wouldn't, while Terai's quiet but caring nature actually balances quite nicely with Dobashi's willingness to say what she's thinking (if not what she's feeling). Perhaps it's just because I see a little bit of myself in both characters, but the end of this episode left me smiling, and it was actually genuinely good to see a relationship in this show coming to a resolution (or at least a very definite progression), something which doesn't happen often enough in anime in an attempt to keep the viewer coming back for more.