This was very much a calm-before-the-storm type of episode, the deep breath before the plunge, to quote Gandalf, which is never unnecessary nor unimportant. I have mixed feelings about this episode. There were areas that were amazing and then there were scenes that just rubbed me the wrong way and left me feeling cheated and disappointed. Unsurprisingly, all these issues had to do with characterisation and plot, which, to me, are the two most important aspects to any sort of literature and I will fight you on this if you say that anime isn’t a form of literature and I will win. Just don’t.
I suppose the basic and nutshell summary to this episode is the fact that Tsumugu has requested that yet another Ofunehiki take place and another Ojoshi, this time to be replaced by Manaka’s red sea-slug stone. His logic behind this is the fact that the stone, which is spit up after one confesses their feelings to a slug, should contain all of Manaka’s feelings and trick the sea god into believing that his lover has returned to the sea, returns his feelings and that it will put an end to the haphazard and unseasonal weather as well as awaken everybody in Shioshishio. It’s most definitely a long shot but they’ve got an unlikely ally in the form of Uroko, who seems to do nothing but for the amusement of it all.
It’s fairly reminiscent of the episodes leading up to and of the midseason finale, and in a nostalgic manner, all their old classmates turned up to help. I thought this was a nice touch because while “everyone” has been gathered for some time now, it never quite felt like everything was normal and I suppose something as teamwork-ish as the Ofunehiki did bring everyone together, bringing feelings out into the open and sending emotions rocketing sky-high. The most obvious and actually interesting love-square is the Tsumugu-Chisaki-Kaname-Sayu one and this one really came to a head in this episode. Chisaki’s reeling from Tsumugu’s confession and simultaneously trying to convince herself that she still loves Hikari, when I think we all know that’s not entirely true anymore, at least not in the way she thinks it is. This part annoyed me somewhat because it felt like the writers were trying to make her some kind of tragic heroine and I think that in some ways that kind of detracted from the emotionally-in-touch character she had appeared to be evolving into. This kind of set her two steps back in my opinion and I wasn’t too impressed with how it was played out.
One relationship that I did really enjoy witnessing come to life in this episode was the one between Sayu and Kaname. Sayu has really become a character whom I admire and am just so intrigued with. She reminds me a little bit of how Chisaki was, in some respect, before the writers cocked up her characterisation, ahem. She’s also refreshingly spunky and honest and I can really appreciate that and her very loud, very frustrated, very tearful confession to Kaname as she appropriately berates his melodrama at the same time. I thought it was a fantastic scene and I was really drawn into it. Well done writers! It was very impressive and worthy of applause.
One more love triangle that I must obviously include, is the Miuna-Hikari-Manaka love drama. One thing that has always endeared Hikari to me is his unfailing love, even if it has been for girls I don’t really care for. His sincerity and genuine, deep affection for Manaka is really quite beautiful to watch and there’s an intense sense of loyalty that has been tempered by his emotional growth but remains just as strong. I feel like this Ofunehiki is bringing everything full-circle, especially with that little quote at the end where Hikari tells Manaka that he’s got something important to tell her after the festival.
I even feel sorry for Manaka, who is by far my least favourite character, in this episode because of the fact that she just instinctively feels that something is missing from her. Her inability to understand love while knowing that she loves her friends is quite heartbreaking to watch. Miuna has also grown tremendously in the last few episodes and it’s been such a joy to watch her battle with her emotions step by step before arriving at a conclusion and a solution to herself without compromising the integrity of her emotions towards Hikari and Manaka. She’s such a real person that it’s impossible for me not to love her and yet out of all the people in the show I feel are going to have a happy ending, she’s not one of them. There’s just this sinking feeling that her storyline is going to break my heart by the end of it, which is upsetting because she’s such a wonderful character.
We’re almost there and I can honestly say I’ve no idea which way the last two episodes are going to go. All I can hope for is that they’re kind to the characters whom I believe need it the most as well as really just tying off everything perfectly and neatly. With all the emotional craziness this show has ignited, I can only hope for some kind of normalcy at the end without risking any of the characters’ happiness. It’s the homestretch now!