Well this was a lot better than I remembered.
First off, this was probably the route that made me laugh the most so far. The comedy was absolutely excellent, from the finding a fake girlfriend part through the meeting Mei part all the way over to the date sequences. Absolutely hilarious through and through.
The way the top of the window says ‘Mei’ and the Tomoya x Mei ship is continuously pushed throughout the first half made me feel like they wanted to make the player think this was actually going to be a romantic route with a 13-year-old. But then the shipping ends pretty abruptly when things get more serious. Which I’m pretty fine with tbh ^^
I’d say this route shows us both the best and worst sides of Sunohara. On the one hand he’s an idiot, he easily gets caught up in his own fantasies, neglecting important realities, and he’s a coward. But he’s a damn good friend. I’d like to have his direct perspective on the latter half on the route, really. He knows Tomoya well enough to know he definitely wouldn’t harm Mei, but the way they act seems to go in the other direction which is probably what leaves him in his confused state when he’s out of sight for a longer period of time near the end. But he’s not leaving Mei alone because he’s a terrible brother. He’s leaving her alone because to the best of his knowledge Tomoya is with her, and he trusts Tomoya more than anyone. And he’s not wrong either! Tomoya certainly isn’t the kind of person he’s acting out to be. Sunohara just doesn’t get Tomoya and Mei’s intentions in their act, that they want him to interfere.
And that’s ultimately the conflict and drama of this route, isn’t it? Tomoya and Mei try putting on an act to force Sunohara to care, but Sunohara isn’t easily convinced by a bad act (because he’s actually damn perceptive and knows both Tomoya and Mei very well) but also too caught up in his fantasy with Sanae to read deeper into it and realize what’s going on with them. At least that’s how I interpreted it.
Many characters got a chance to shine in this route. Obviously there’s Mei who’s more or less the focal character of the route. She’s so damn likable and I don’t think I even need to go into detail about that. What stood out was seeing her try to interact with Yusuke. Seeing her trying to wish him all the best while having inevitably brought up a part of his life he’d rather leave behind was endearing. And Yusuke is the best anyways so he genuinely thanks her. Yeah I really liked that scene.
Then there’s Sanae who has some standout moments as well. She’s incredibly kind-hearted and positive and exhibits several traits I admire. Every scene with her in it was just pleasant. Not to mention the scene where Tomoya talks to her about Sunohara’s poor priorities and how he’s getting carried away made me appreciate her even more. She’s not just blindly supporting Sunohara with being his fake girlfriend; she’s actively thinking about how to support him best and what should be done. Major props to her.
Finally we have the butt monkey himself, the male Sunohara. He’s an idiot. He lazes around all day every day. But when it comes down to it, his days with Tomoya are filled with those small joys that add up to a fun school life neither of the two could’ve had otherwise. And while there’s not much he can get invested in, when he does care about something he sticks with it to the bitter end. Lest I forget he still has quite a keen eye for others’ feelings (although that didn’t shine much this route). Overall he’s a good guy and quite the bro. Not on the Little Busters’ level in that regard, but right behind them.
I didn’t remember this route being quite as good as it ended up being for me, but ultimately I ended up giving it a 5/5.