After establishing something of a love-hate relationship between main characters Kaoru and Sentarou in its opening episode, it's not exactly a huge surprise to see that friendship growing closer as enter this second instalment of Kids on the Slope.
The main catalyst in growing this bond actually comes as a result of Nishima's misfortune, as he finds himself the object of interest to a gang of bullies with nothing better to do with their time - luckily for him, Ritsuko spots him being led away and collars Kawabuchi to do his thing and rescue Kaoru. This he duly does, and Kaoru even does his bit to return the favour by helping out in the ensuing scrap when Sentarou looks to be in trouble.
If that isn't enough to cement their friendship, the return of a neighbour to the store run by Ritsuko's father prompts an unexpected jamming session in said music store's basement - a session which Sentarou coaxes Kaoru to join in on having realised his willingness to try his hand at a spot of jazz himself. To his surprise, he even gets a bit of a feel for the vibe of the moment, which perhaps is what gives him the confidence to ask Ritsuko out on a date of sorts. Of course, this doesn't go exactly to plan, with Sentarou tagging along for the ride, but an enjoyable summer's day ends in a realisation of love for both boys, albeit in wildly different ways.
From its solid opening, this second episode of Kids on the Slope succeeds in getting pretty much everything right - by the end of it all I find myself totally on-board with cheering on both of the main characters in their various endeavours having warmed to them both, while Nishima's burgeoning love for Ritsuko also feels entirely organic and well-imagined to add a satisfying romantic element to proceedings. Throw in some suggestions that Sentarou has (if you'll excuse the pun) his own cross to bear relating to his family, and the only thing really missing here is a more central focus on the jazz side of things - something I can forgive entirely while I'm enjoying simply living life vicariously through the show's characters like this.