Himeko forces Taichi to tell them what he knows, and #2 punishes them by making the age reversals totally random. They stay holed up in the abandoned building to avoid further exposure. But Iori is worried about her mother after they agree to let her violent ex-husband stay with them. Taichi, Himeko, Yui and Aoki back her up, but both Aoki and Iori both revert to babies, scuttling the first attempt. The first Heartseed confronts them with news he has ended the phenomenon and sent #2 away.
As an apology for what they went through, he says he’ll let Iori go back in time to redo her childhood. Taichi and Himeko take her hands and she declines, as going back would erase the person she has become through her original past. The six go back to Iori’s house, where they both thought they were making one another happy, when neither of them wanted the ex there. Her mom shoos him off herself. Yui makes up with Chinatsu and gets back into karate, and life goes on with the StuCS.
When the cold open ended with Iori suddenly shuddering, we feared the worst: that not only did Taichi age-revert, he also switched bodies with Iori – meaning everyone’s ages would jump around along with their bodies, out of sync and at random, forever. But such a complicated development would be nigh impossible to pull off – not to mention border on silly. Instead, the episode has a better idea: just the time and duration of the age-reversals become random. But the phenomenon isn’t even the major issue here: it’s only the means by which Aoki, Yui, and now Iori are pushed into making decisions about their lives, having been rudely reminded of pasts they thought they’d put behind them.
At first, Iori wants a fresh start; a reset button, but she rightly realizes that wouldn’t solve anything, and the product of it wouldn’t be any more the “real her” that she is now. She IS the real her, both the good and the bad; all of her experiences, choices, and interactions. Changing them would be a cheat. And once she sits down and talks with her mom, both are shocked to learn that both of them were trying to make each other happy at the cost of their own happiness, so no one was happy. Now everybody’s happy, but at the very end of what could well be the last episode for a long while, Iori wonders if she feels for Taichi is really love. A nice teaser for what’s to come after a very satisfying conclusion to the third arc.
Rating: 9 (Superior)