Touma tells Setsuna she’s moving to Vienna. While on the school rooftop, Setsuna tells Io how she “jumped in the middle” between Haruki and Touma, even though she knew about Touma’s feelings for him. On graduation day, Setsuna tells Haruki Touma left her a note. He goes looking for her, without success. Later that night Touma finally calls him, and he finds her right outside his building, where they embrace, call each other by their first names and kiss.
Setsuna admits fault for snatching Haruki from
Touma Kazusa, but it wasn’t really much of a surprise that she knew Kazusa liked him, and was even there when Kazusa kissed the sleeping Haruki after the concert. But in that moment, Setsuna, having fallen for Haruki, couldn’t be blamed for taking the course of action that would lead to her happiness. It was as much an act of desperation as it was pragmatism. Her happiness at his saying yes overpowered her sense of loyalty to Kazusa.
Of course, Setsuna also happens to believe Haruki only accepted her confession because he was thinking of her feelings before his own. But as we look at how things eventually turned out, we can’t discount the possibility Haruki and Kazusa may never have gotten anywhere were it not for Setsuna. It took Kazusa losing Haruki to Setsuna—and Haruki nearly losing Kazusa to Vienna—for the two of them to fully grasp how deeply they felt for one another.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Flashbacks chronicle November ’07 to February ’08. Touma teaches Haruki the guitar and later secretly plays along on the piano; Haruki gives her an English grammer book which she treasures; she kisses an asleep Haruki after their concert; learns she learns her mother flew to Japan to watch her, and after the recital and invites her to live in Vienna with her. Back in the present, Haruki responds to Touma’s confessions by embracing and kissing her, but goes too far, upsetting her, and she runs off.
Touma has loved Haruki practically since they met and he started caring for her, unbeknownst to Haruki, but he’s not fully to blame for his ignorance. This is because time and again Touma has put the interests of others ahead of her own and acted contrary to her best interests, and stubbornly stuck with decisions she shouldn’t have. Earlier in the series Setsuna adopted a specific persona around her classmates that wasn’t the real her. Touma also adopted a persona around Haruki and Setsuna; that of someone cool, sarcastic, and aloof who likes hanging out with them. In reality, hanging out with them has given her nothing but pain, and as the couple she gave her blessing to grow closer, she decides to bow out of the triangle altogether.
Once again, it’s what’s best for the others, but not her. Being just friends with Haruki isn’t enough, and it never was, and yet she’s never been able to express it in a way he could comprehend. This episode showed us that other Touma that she hadn’t shown to Haruki until that snowy night in February when he picks her up from the airport. Even then, she’s put off by his overaggressive kissing (we assume it’s her first kiss with an awake boy), which only serves as a reminder that this is what he done many times with Setsuna. Touma knows what she wants, she just doesn’t know how to get it. If Touma really is the one he loves, Haruki has some work to do that will make prepping for the concert seem like, well, child’s play. Time to grow up and stop playing around.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
January: Touma practices for her recital, skipping school and ignoring Haruki’s calls, as Haruki and Setsuna grow closer together. The day of the recital arrives, and Touma sees Haruki and Setsuna together. Afterwards, she doesn’t place and does receive any recommendations, but is glad Setsuna was moved. Haruki asks her to join them for Setsuna’s birthday on February 14th. He later changes his mind and wants to be alone with Setsuna, but she wants everyone there. Still, she invites only Touma and Haruki. On her birthday, she receives a bouquet from Touma. Haruki goes to Touma’s house to find that she’s flown the coop.
After what must have been an extremely fun hot spring trip, Haruki is spending his final semester of school like you’d expect: waiting for graduation while spending as much of his time with Setsuna. It’s getting pretty serious, and he’s even forward enough to suggest to Setsuna that they spend her birthday—also Valentine’s Day, conveniently—alone, knowing full well what that could entail. But guilt gnaws at both of them, and despite Touma’s blessing, she’s not doing a great job of hiding her contempt for the present situation. On the contrary, her efforts to assure Haruki she doesn’t feel a thing only makes him more suspicious. Setsuna waves off Haruki’s suggestion they take things to the next level, but that’s just a cover for giving Touma one last chance to speak now or forever hold her peace.
Setsuna loves Haruki, but she can’t ignore that Touma may love him too, and she was technically first in his life. She’s not being altogether fair to herself, but she loves Touma too, and doesn’t want to hurt her. When Haruki changes course for Touma’s after remembering their embrace and her face on the train platform, it’s more evidence that while he has Setsuna, and should by all rights thank his god what a lucky bastard he is, within him a glimmer of doubt remains. But it won’t be assuaged easily, as Touma is out of reach at the worst possible time for him. Maybe he’s not so lucky after all. Maybe a luckier man would only have one woman to choose from, and wouldn’t have to worry about whether he made the right choice or hurting the one he rejected.
Rating: 8 (Great)
December arrives. Setsuna and Haruki start dating with Touma’s blessing.Touma lets Setsuna start calling her Kazusa. They also help her study for exams, which she ends up passing, assuring her graduation. To celebrate, the three go on a trip to a hot spring inn in the mountains, a tradition Setsuna hopes they’ll do every year, no matter what happens. Kazusa tells the others she’s delaying college to give piano a serious go, starting with a recital after new years, which Haruki and Setsuna promise to attend.
With Haruki and Setsuna dating, Kazusa seemingly fine with it while also passing her classes, things seem to be going swimmingly since their school fair concert. The three continue to spend time together, including Christmas at a very swanky mountain inn, culminating in the three sharing a hot spring together, without doubt the most intimate contact they’ve had yet. But this show has always been about what people aren’t saying, or in Touma’s case what she “jokes” about. Then there’s Haruki the narrator, speaking from the future, who knows how this all ends, and knows that concert was the apex of the trio’s happiness.
We still find it sad that he’s looking back at the Christmas adventure with a degree of regret and/or anguish, because by all rights, they really do seem to enjoy themselves, whether in the car together (which Kazusa drives with increasing efficacy), to getting stranded on a snowy road, to even being comfortable being naked together in a hot spring (major kudos to this show for not taking the cliched anime route here), everything seems to be fine between them. But it’s not just Touma’s jokes, Haruki’s voiceovers, or the cautious whispers of their outer circle of friends, but also the fact we’ve got five more episodes that tell us that the trio’s troubles aren’t over.
Rating: 8 (Great)
With Sawa’s help, Konatsu is able to recruit Wakana as a non-participatory member of her new choir club, and the principal approves the application and volunteers as the advisor. Konatsu begins to conscript other misfit students with singing ability, including her younger brother. When the day of a dual recital with the official choir arrives, the principal isn’t around. Sawa attempts to track down Mrs.Takahashi while Konatsu finds out the principal is laid up in the hospital from a minor bike accident. She and Sawa make it back just in time, but the bus containing the rest of the choir is late, so they go on as a duet, accompanied by Wakana on piano.
We were a little reticent about continuing on with a show that so closely resembles Hanasaku Iroha in both looks and subject matter, and the fact Sawa and Wakana still looked so similar to us. The scene after the credits of the five characters all talking over each other, having numerous conversations, was also a little overwhelming right out of the gate, but we can’t deny it was very well done. It wasn’t long before we could tell the Sawa and Wakana apart and became invested in Konatsu’s goal of starting up a new choir. It’s hard not to root for someone considering she’s fighting the oppression of a vice principal who has a major stick up her ass. If this is a high school drama, she’s definitely the villainess.
We were amazed how fast everything progressed, from getting approval from the eccentric principal to recruiting a quorum of singers and rehearsing. We also liked Wakana’s running tally of cakes she’s due for all the favors she does for Konatsu, as well as Sawa’s dedication to her friend, including what has to be the most sincere, justified spanking we can recall ever seeing in an anime. Sawa’s delivery of the word “NO” in response to her teacher asking if she’s in the maternity ward because she’s pregnant had us LOL’ing profusely. And Konatsu and Sawa’s little duet at the end was sweet and moving. Konatsu got over her stage fright and rose to the occasion, with sticktoitiveness and a little help from her friends. After this episode, we’re confident this is no Hanasaku Iroha carbon copy, but something else altogether.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Car Cameos: Mrs. Takahashi’s Daihatsu Move makes another appearence; a Toyota Coaster conveys the choir club to the recital hall; background cars include an Audi A4, Toyota Alphard, and Subaru Sambar.
As the girls start vigorously preparing for their big winter exhibition, Maon decides that instead of whistling or singing, she wants to do a recital, like one that moved her long ago. However, when the time comes to write something down, she has a lot of difficulty, which is compounded by the increasingly public buildup and expectation. With the support of her friends, she’s not only able to recite her story in front of a large audience at the Virgo theatre, but is able to recite the ending straight from her head. Her bold venture lends added courage to her friends in theirs.
As it’s been established that Maon is the group member with the most diverse and fleeting passions, we expected a degree of trepidation in her efforts to write a one-person play. But lo and behold, she follows through, by the seat of her pants and in the face of enormous anticipation – without any rehersal or even an ending in writing. Maon didn’t make it easy for herself – writing something can be far more emotionally and intellectually labor-intensive than, say, baking cookies, making tinctures, or snapping pictures.
Her story is simple, pleasant, and very much autobiographical. It wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t embarass herself up there like a presidential candidate, either. It was a nice touch for her to tell the story of how she literally found her voice thanks to friends like Norie, without whom she’d only dream of speaking to a full house in a theatre. Her friends are right there backstage cheering her on, and Fu is there to snap a tender moment when Maon is finished her story and basks victoriously in the bright lights and applause. Whatever Maon is, she’s no longer someone who never finishes things!