A piece of advice I often give on social media is, “Do the best you can and that’s enough.” It sounds trite, but I mean it. I try to mean it. The best you can give at that moment is fine, even if it means you’re unable to reach your goal, even if you fail. That’s okay, because you’re unique and working on growing yourself without the need to consider outside pressure or comparisons. Do your best.
Sometimes, though, I forget that the best we can give isn’t all that great. What if the best you can give when studying for an exam still amounts to an “F”? What if the best you can give is a mediocre report at work? What if the best you can give is only putting 70% toward support a struggling friend?
In episode eight of Just Because, there’s a lot of that happening. Sōma gets a bit of a break this week from the action, but the other four characters are all being challenged and aren’t responding with top marks. In particular, Komiya and Izumi are challenged to do their best. Komiya shows a side of herself we’ve rarely seen thus far, becoming nervous when considering how to ask Izumi out. She eventually does (with the help of her ugly, ugly cat) and takes him out on a date.
By the end of the episode, though, she basically-confesses-but-not-fully to Izumi. It’s cute, and totally suitable to an anime, though I have to admit I wondered, “Why doesn’t she just come out and directly say it?”
Izumi, of course, isn’t as brave as Komiya. He has plenty of opportunity to speak to Natsume about his feelings, but is unable to. He admits as much to Komiya when she wonders if Izumi’s studying to get into the same university that Natsume is choosing (or will she???) is his way of confessing; it is—in doing so, Komiya can show his feelings without risking all that comes with a direct confession. As Izumi says, it’s all he can do right now.
But despite my tendency to want these kids to be more mature (in spite of how far less mature I was at their age!), they are doing good. They’re doing their best—certainly that can be said of Komiya. But Izumi, too, grows in this episode. He smiles a lot, enjoying Komiya’s company instead of being the grump he’s so often been around her. And he admits to both Sōma and Komiya that he has such affection for Natsume that he’s willing to sacrifice and change schools just for her. That amounts to something, a lot of something, I think.
And ultimately, all those somethings will become SOMETHING—they’ll lead to more courage, more strength, more conviction, more wisdom. Doing your best right now carves the way for creating a “better” best for you.
At the end of the episode, Izumi runs Morikawa. He doesn’t recognize her at first, because for the first time, she has tried to dress more stylish, to look more mature with her hairstyle. Though downplayed throughout the series (perhaps simply as a result of her tempered personality), Morikawa’s refusal to a take a chance has been her barrier to overcome. Other than Sōma, she was the first of the main characters to “do her best,” reaching out to him and agreeing to think his confession over more thoroughly, and now, she’s reached another point. Morikawa is showing her beauty and maturity on the outside as well as in, and she’s demonstrating this: doing the best you can now isn’t an excuse or a meaningless piece of encouragement—it’s a step upward toward being more than we are right now, toward being the people whom we want to be.
You can stream Just Because! on Anime Strike.