Episodes like this remind me why I love this show. The flow of this one isn’t constrained by a specific theme, yet they are strung together seamlessly as ideas transition into another like nodes in a river. Maybe I am exaggerating my point here because it’s been quite a while since I have been watching this show weekly- but, again, it’s the little things that cumulate to make me appreciate how wonderful a show is.

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The episode begins by bringing back the Kawamotos on screen, and you know what that means for the color palette- pastel heaven. The sisters are making rice flour dumplings for sale in the upcoming March Town Festival (a summer festival). While they are taste-testing the dumplings, Akari realizes that they taste good with matcha (green tea powder) but that’s not really economical for mass production and sale. So they make alternative flavors like tapioca and plum syrup- and Grandpa, especially, likes the plum syrup.

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Hina informs him that she got the plum syrup from Chiho. And with that, the story transitions to a flashback sequence where Hina visits Chiho as soon as her summer vacation starts. It is revealed that Chiho is still having trouble with coping with her bad memories when she is around people her age. So, in the presence of Hina, Chiho’s buried memories of being bullied come to the surface which makes her she tense up as she tries to keep them at bay from being ‘out’ in the form of a breakdown. And this strain, probably, caused her fever- which made Hina leave early; and on her way home, as Hina recalls the three steps to being socially active again, she realizes that Chiho is still fighting hard on her third step, and that gives Hina strength to try harder on her side to cheer Chiho up.

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And with that heartful of determination and enthusiasm derived from her visit, Hina steps into her work in the March Town Festival. Rei makes an appearance as the considerate shop helper. The shop is booming with business, even Takahashi makes a brief visit- and in the midst of this cheery atmosphere, Grandpa reminisce about a memory during a past March Town Festival and, probably for the first time, we see the faces of Mikako (Akari’s mother) and Grandma.

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With more shots of luminous, petaled scenescapes- Hina shares with Rei that she just discovered that she really likes the festival’s wholesome atmosphere and that she wants to do the festival again, soon. The sales at Crescent Moon overload and run supplies dry, which the sisters didn’t foresee. So they don’t end up making as much money. Grandpa, initially, lightly scolds them for not being prepared but he, being reminded of the times when his wife and daughter used to be salesladies during the festivals, invites the sisters to give another go in the next festival. And much to Hina’s delight, she starts thinking about what to make in the festival… until Akari reminds her that she needs to study for her upcoming high school entrance exam.

A sharp turn of perspective leads to the face of a new homeroom teacher who is complaining to Kokubu that Hina’s class would be too much to handle in the light of recent events. Takagi is brought to the spotlight again, as Kokubu and the new homeroom teacher discuss how would they handle Takagi’s case. The homeroom teacher argues that, regardless of ill intention or not, a serious offense always warrants a punishment. Kokubu doesn’t answer that directly, but we get his answer through his subsequent actions when he confronts Takagi.

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With some interesting visual set up of inverted colors and grey-muddied water puddles (which is fitting) around Takagi’s desk, Takagi’s annoying question of ‘Why do people work hard?’ is posed again. Kokubu replies rather succinctly that wanting to try hard is always instinctive, and as he gets up to leave- he leaves a confused Takagi with some advice. That Takagi needs to be sincere with herself and understand herself to get rid of her anxiety and fear of not being successful.

Now, in my review of episode 13, I complained about Takagi being obnoxious and intolerable, which she still is- but that’s because she reminds me of the side of me that I absolutely hate. I also complained about her not being humanized and thought that her side of things didn’t get a conclusion. But now, I retract those opinions since this small interaction between brought a substantial closure to her character role in this season.

Anyway, the episode ends on a sweet (literally) note as Akari discovers Hina asleep with her drawings for new sweets- which, admittedly, look really delicious.

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