Things have cooled down. Yamazaki is reflecting on his philosophical and mental approach to his matches, and Rei and the Kawamotos are having a celebratory feast… and we discover that Hina and Akari have black holes in their stomachs.
Yamazaki’s eyes open against a dark background, indicating to the audience that he is entering a state of introspection, and he cements this by quoting, “If you believe, your dream will come true.” Then he reasons that it’s just an abridged version of a less positive and catchy one- “If you believe, and work hard at it every day, for even an hour longer than all of your rivals, there’s a good chance your dream will come true to some extent.”… that covers all grounds alright. This part of the dialogue is presented with bold, bright color tones of the Yamazaki standing upright, with ink and notebook margins in the background- indicating his strong belief in that quote. He mulls over why would one truncate that quote to one that misrepresents the intended one, and comes to the conclusion that people just want what better works as a catchphrase.
His thought train transitions to a flashback through some water imagery (again, a visual metaphor for immersion), where we see him having drinks with his friends in a gathering. Friends who are portrayed as being reductive and insensitive in Yamazaki’s mind- people who don’t really care about what you are doing, but they still act like they are cheering you on or something. It’s really triggering, even if you know that they are just having light-hearted banter and they don’t have any ill feelings towards you (yeah, I have some personal experience with that- I think a lot of people do in their own ways). And that’s case here, Yamazaki is portrayed character as a rigid yet not really thick skinned (like me) to people who just generalize stuff to the extent where it feels like they are mocking you, when they may not really be and there’s no way around without feeling that frustration. Wow, that’s been a rant.
Yamazaki then talks about how he hasn’t been doing well with his passions- shogi and pigeon racing. The anime indulges in some metaphoric imagery involving diving into raging ocean and discovering treasures beneath them. Yamazaki recounts how he used to be enthusiastic and dove deeper and deeper into that ocean to find answers/strategies/rewards for his efforts; but nowadays, no matter how hard he tries to find new ‘answers’ he cannot and returns empty handed instead. This clears up why he is so reserved when it came to strategical play in shogi matches with Rei and Nikaidou; he has just stopped looking for new strategies. But he still sees Rei and Nikaidou diving back into the ocean, without exhibiting anguish or frustration; and that leads him to recall something he overlooked about Nikaidou’s expression during his final moves. Nikaidou was smiling. That scene caused Yamazaki to be convinced that Nikaidou isn’t just putting up a front but he is sincere in his efforts. Junkei gets inspired, and to finish the first half of the episode on a pleasant note- Yamazaki’s missing pigeon returns.
The show shifts focus to the main characters. Hina recounts Rei’s sudden appearance during her school trip in a romanticized fashion. Then the viewer is taken back to the ‘present’ timeline where the Kawamoto’s are in a fancy restaurant or ice cream parlor and the older sisters are just ordering the whole menu. It’s a whole comedic skit extended a bit too long but it was enjoyable for the most part. The show capitalizes on this light hearted atmosphere and Akari points out that Hina is in a much more happier mood, and her grandpa says that it’s because of Rei. It’s really satisfying as a viewer to see the Kawamotos acknowledging Rei’s contribution because it’s them who brought Rei into their life.
Once more, the show takes a final detour to show the time Hina returned from the trip feeling happy and enthusiastically sharing Rei’s sudden appearance to her family. That Rei brought sweet snacks for her.
Akari looks on, saying, “So the medicine worked, huh?” as a light breeze races past her. The episode ends on a wide shot of Rei, Momo and Hina crossing a bridge, with warm splotches of light illuminating the background.