I couldn’t ask for a better start to this cour. The show cuts right into the meat of Hina’s ongoing arc, the show delves deep into its tone, and the pacing of the narrative is really good in this one. It’s another thematically coherent episode (since episode 4, if my memory serves me right).
The new opening is more on the realistic and cinematic side- with the CGI elements and the lack of color scheme and/or art style during the sequence. That’s pretty well done but I’ll be missing the previous styles of the animation in the openings.
A shot of a permeating black mist opens the episode, which is followed up with a desaturated shot of the outside of the school- to set up a visual representation that the black mist has permeated throughout the entire school . And this desaturated tone of the visual continues throughout the episode. We get a first look into the homeroom teacher’s bad case of anxiety (which I have to admit, seems kind of out of the blue in terms of presentation). Her frailty and worn-out state is highlighted throughout the next couple of minutes.
After Hina helps out the homeroom teacher by finding her scroll for her, Takagi cuts in to call Hina a ‘brown-noser’ (had to look up that word); which sets Hina off. The following editing is done in a pretty impactful and deceptive way- so that even I thought that Hina was going to hit Takagi. The viewer gets a confirmation that nothing’s wrong with their monitor by bringing the saturation back, for a while, as Hina crosses her arms and stands up to Takagi’s desk with a commanding stance.
The homeroom teacher reacts predictably but poorly to Hina’s confrontation (she’s OCD about raising about raising of the voice, as always), she goes on a tangent and starts spewing out her buildup thoughts on bullying. She’s tired of seeing classroom bullying throughout her years and questions Takagi how can she afford to have the time to bully others. The show’s visual department bathes in a horror aesthetic for a while- with the red backdrop, the silhouettes and all. The homeroom teacher writhes about and then turns into a worn out ghost of her former self- she’s drained out all of her grievances on the situation that has apparently clouded her entire career. And so the homeroom teacher collapses, and the back mist prevails.
A new homeroom teacher arrives to the scene, and this guy knows how to handle stuff. He wastes little time to get to the heart of the bullying situation and sets up a quick meeting with Hina’s and Takagi’s parents. Hina informs Akari of the new development, and apologizes for putting Akari in a bind. But Akari grabs Hina and treats her to snacks and assures her that she will be by Hina’s side no matter what- she says that as the two sisters bathe in the orange sunset by the riverside, it was a really sweet scene.
The grandpa of the Kawamotos briefly argues with Akari that he should go to the meeting instead (the show aptly places a call back to monster grandpa), but Akari makes him concede. Akari revisits a memory of her promising her mother that she would take care of her siblings, in the form of a dream.
The day comes, Akari, Hina, Takagi, her mother and the new homeroom teacher meet up. The teacher gets distracted and goes somewhere else for a while- and a while is enough to stir another storm in the school. Expectedly, Takagi’s mother behaves exactly as Akari predicted a few episodes ago, only this time, it’s not really a comedic matter. Takagi’s mother hides under the faux-logical umbrella of demanding ‘proof’ of a classroom bullying incident- she’s clearly being a bitch at this point (pardon my language). Akari toughed herself up for this situation, but she can’t respond in the ‘right’ way (even though I can’t say how she should reply to a stupid question of asking for proof where impressionable kids are involved).
Hina brings Akari out of that toxicity, and leaves the new homeroom to handle the rest. The mist has cleared up for the sisters as they rest in the nurse’s office. Hina thanks Akari for standing up for her and says that some people don’t want to admit their wrongdoings. So all that she can do is to endure and stand up to the bully when she gets called out. And Hina continues to be the best girl in the anime.
Meanwhile, the teacher counters the mother’s demand for proof with some real logic, and stumps her. He meets up with the sisters in the nurse’s room to assure them that he will do his best in taking things in the right direction from now on.
And look, there’s sunshine out there after all.