Perhaps I denounced Junko for playing dirty against Nikaidou; turns out he respects the hell out of the round little guy, and was fully prepared to lose to him…until Nikaidou collapsed.
Between his clueless drinking buddies with their boorish questioning, his two downgrades, and losing his prized racing pigeon Sliver, we see that Junko’s loss to Rei is only the latest of many setbacks in his personal and professional life.
However, things look up after he sends hydrangeas to Nikaidou. Silver also returns, and with it, Junko’s fighting spirit, which he aims to use in the 12th Lion King Tournament.
While ostensibly a detour from the season’s main narrative of Hina’s predicament, it’s still an enjoyable and at times moving character study.
Back to Rei, who celebrates his Newcomer victory by treating the Kawamotos to anything they’d like at a sweet shop.
Akari and Hina end up scaring both Rei and Grandpa by managing to put away prestigious amounts of delicious dessert in complex combinations of texture, temperature, and flavor.
By the time they leave the restaurant, the girls can barely move, and Momo, in classic kid form, waits until they left the nearest restroom to declare she had to pee.
With Akari unable to exert herself too much, Rei carries Momo, while Hina stays by his side. Akari notices that ever since Rei visited Hina in Kyoto, she’s been smiling a lot more.
We flash back to their encounter by the river, where Rei is so kind and accommodating, Hina feels as if she’s back home. Rei and Hina are lovingly framed an rendered in this scene, looking for all the world like a romantic pair, particularly when Hina tries on Rei’s glasses.
But whatever the vibes they emit, Hina has been thoroughly cheered up, to the relief of both Akari and Gramps.