I see now why episode 8 was seemingly bereft of reversal-of-fortune moments for Kotoko. They were saving up for the big one, Elizabeth.
This episode was supremely entertaing for several reasons, the first of which being that Sudou is ridiculously awesome. I don’t know why, exactly, but he’s the perfect stupid gimmick character to introduce at this point in time. Although he just happened to be tailing Yuuko and just happened to run into Kotoko and just happened to have tickets to the movie (plot device? Naaaaaah), the episode was made positively hilarious simply by his addition. And I also quite liked the bit at the end of the date when Irie shows up, and ticks off the man Kotoko ticks off, and then makes off with Kotoko, leaving Matsumoto Yuuko (and, more importantly for the matter at hand, her tennis raquet) in his care. That whole five-six minute segment (beginning with Kotoko despairing over seeing how close Matsumoto and Irie were) was amazing.
Of course, Kotoko only thought she saw Matsumoto and Irie being close. The truth is, Irie couldn’t care less about her–she’s just another girl clamoring for his affection, which he naturally finds totally disinteresting. Astute viewers (at least, those more astute than our intrepid heroine) will have already picked up that Irie was extremely disinterested in everything that had to do with anything with Matsumoto. Even more astute viewers will recall that this is quite similar to the manner in which Irie treated Kotoko in the first three episodes, at least, until Kotoko delivered sweet justice to his face.
We see this contrasted, then, with his behavior with Kotoko a year after she has moved into his house. Matsumoto may have been treated with calm, collected disinterest, but Kotoko, for better or for worse, engenders a certain level of emotion in Irie. As he recalls for Kotoko, he hasn’t had a single troublesome moment in his life, or, at least, a troublesome moment that he can recall. It seems to me that a life which mostly involves eighteen years of essentially nothing on the emotional front would be rather bland. Compared to his interactions with other people (what precious little of these moments we see, since we tend to be stuck in the Kotoko perspective more than the Irie perspective), Kotoko drags out a stream of emotions from a seemingly bland and robotic personality. Sure, it’s all negative emotion, of the “please go away and quit bothering me” variety, but it’s quite likely that any emotion is a good thing in this instance. In a life devoid of complications, aggravations, or anything else, it becomes hard for one to appreciate what makes one feel happy or sad, which is clearly reflected in Irie’s ambivalence about his future. What does he want to be? He doesn’t really know, because he feels he could do anything and do it well. But he doesn’t really want to do anything, so he ends up doing nothing.
It’s entirely possible (and, from the events of this episode, quite likely) that Irie is becoming somewhat more than dimly aware (or not aware at all) of the changes wrought in him by Kotoko. It’s also likely that he’s realized that these things are a good thing, which he explains to Kotoko in his own highly awkward, overly stilted way which, of course, is carefully worded so that it seems like he’s not betraying any emotion at all (gotta keep your cool, even when you’re spilling your guts to the girl who loves you, and also the girl who you may or may not realize that you like her). Irie, of course, can’t let himself melt without making it even harder on Kotoko to surmount the odds. If there was any concern earlier on that Irie might just be a jerk rather than playing hard-to-get, his little speech/monologue here fully demonstrates that, yes, he’s defintely in full-blown hard-to-get mode now. If anything, he’s enjoying the back-and-forth tormenting of each other that they’re doing, inadvertent on Kotoko’s part, but quite intentional on his. Perhaps he’s even…addicted to it?
We can only hope that this addiction blossoms into love. Somehow.