Oh, what a powerful episode this was. It was entirely quiet: no overblown or forced drama, nor an overemphasis on angst whatsoever. I believe that this episode was the most subtle of the entire series, and with Aoi Hana, that has to say something.
The first half showed the wedding between Yasuko’s sister and teacher: this sealed the deal, and her teacher has now officially become impossible to reach. It really was a time in which Yasuko was finally able to close off a big part of her teenaged life. After that, we see her telling a bit about how she originally came to love her teacher. We also see how she cut her long hair short, as a means of symbolism. At the same time we see her befriend Kyouko, who also cut her hair short in response. With this, I’m beginning to see the relationship between Yasuko and Kyouko: Yasuko really does like Kyouko as a friend, but has gotten annoyed with Kyouko’s obsession over her.
But the really good part of this episode happened in the second half, in which Fumi (who was absent at the wedding) invites Akira over, and Akira’s brother and Yasuko end up tagging along. What follows is a very awkward scene, in which Fumi tries to distance herself as far away from Yasuko as possible by using Akira, and Akira’s brother keeping Yasuko a bit busy by telling her about how Akira used to be in the past. I especially loved the last part in which Yasuko tries to apologize to Fumi, and then getting rejected. You can see that she really broke up with Fumi in a tantrum. She ruined things between the two of them herself, because she should have known that Fumi is a really emotional person who takes what people say to her very seriously, especially since she was heart-broken once before.
In a way, Fumi has grown out of this as a stronger person, but at the same time it’s also sad to see that she’s completely shielding herself away right now, afraid to be hurt for a third time.
So, with one episode left, I really wonder how the creators are planning to end this series. I really hope for a “life goes on”-ending: an ending that’s just going to show a final part of the characters, and what’s going to happen to them after that is just going to be left to the viewer’s imagination. Especially since it’s very unlikely to see a second season of this, it would be the perfect ending for such a small little series.
Just one thing: PLEASE don’t end the series with Fumi and Akira falling in love with each other. This series has done SO WELL in avoiding just about every romance cliché in the book, it would be such an incredible shame to ruin it at the last possible minute!
Rating: ** (Excellent)