Guilt is a theme that continues all throughout the show and is applied through all of Love Lab’s characters. Our main characters, Riko and Maki, are the most affected by the essence of guilt and the show makes the conscious effort to bring it back like a painful memory, as one of the driving themes towards the conclusion.
The first encounter between the two is when Riko walks into the clubroom where Maki is practicing how to kiss a boy using a pillow. From that moment forth, Maki asks Riko for love advice, to which Riko reluctantly accepts. To Riko’s dismay, she has no experience in the field at all, as shown through a backstory of boys passing her off as one of the guys.
However, she continues to convey the message that she’s very experienced in love affairs. As a result, Riko is appointed in the student council to help Maki conduct love research.
As the story goes on, Riko continues to dig her grave, getting into even more trouble as more characters fall for her advice and past classmates get included in the mix. Maki has her complete faith in Riko and with her happy and innocent personality, it just makes the situation difficult for her. She understands her fault and wants to tell her the truth but due to her stubborn personality, she hasn’t told Maki the truth until the very end.
The first to figure out her lies is Sayori. She indirectly brings up Riko’s mistake to invoke some response from her and enjoys making fun of her. The stab at her heart creates a short moment where the show displays the guilt taking its toll but then reverts to another light-hearted joke. I figure this was mostly just a reminder to Riko to point out how far she’s gone with her lies. But at the end, Sayori finally gives her the push Riko needs.
At Riko’s prep school, a character named Jan gets introduced. Jan is a much more serious version of Sayori, but he takes a more confrontational approach to people. He indirectly tells Maki the truth with a hurting insult to both her and Riko. While Sayori circles around the issue, Jan purely attacks. Maki defends Riko, but Jan counterattacks with a line that challenges her directly.
He attacks the friendship between her and Riko, and it hurts Maki. After all, they became friends was because Maki wanted Riko’s advice on love. Now if that basic fundamental to their relationship was indeed a lie…
Maki ignores Jan’s insults but it comes in as a probable truth when she overhears Mika, Riko’s friend, teasing Riko about love advice. And it comes in full force, when a unnamed character brings up the truth similar to Jan’s but even more devastating. He reveals that Riko lied to her, bringing up the history of her actual personality.
The show loves to do this act of pushing away the problem which ultimately creates the climax of the show. Riko goes to Maki’s house to apologize for lying to her all this time. Riko tells herself that Maki has every right to be mad, so what becomes of their friendship if they can’t trust each other at all. So in retribution, she tries to tell Maki that she’s quitting the student council. But…
She doesn’t want to quit being friends with Maki and the rest of the student council. She enjoys her time there, having fun with everyone, and she wants to continuing spending time researching love with the rest of her friends. On the flip side, Maki confides in herself that bond with Riko is one of true friendship. She dispels the idea that Riko was just tagging along with her ridiculous behaviors. This idea is confirmed by the handkerchief Riko used to find her way to the house. They are both now on the same plane, on equal terms when it comes to love and as Maki puts it, “worry about things on the same perspective.” The scene ends with both girls embracing each other and crying in happiness.
Love Lab takes its sweet time trying to guilt our poor protagonist through all these troubles. There’s two different ways the show presents guilt: There’s the comedic joke method, which is just splattered throughout the entire show and then there’s the animation of the eyes. The latter method is the best as it just really shows how downhill things got.
I really like this show for both its comedy and what it does with its themes of guilt. It takes its time to get to these parts but when they happen, it’s quite enjoyable.
(Not seeing anime girls suffer. But them getting through it…I think you know what I mean…)