Sorry, just notes again for today. Still not feeling too well, but the blog can’t write itself so I’ll continue to post anyway. On the bright side, I’m sure you guys don’t miss my long-winded paragraphs. Alright then, let’s get started…
— The episode opens with Akira at a bookstore. Haruka happens to walk by and spots her, but the distance between them is too great nowadays. She wants to say hi to her friend, but she can’t forget how awkwardly their last encounter ended. Eventually, Yui shows up and Akira leaves with her. To Haruka, not only must it feel as if she and Akira are now from two different worlds, Akira has replaced her with Yui.
— As it turns out, Akira and Haruka used to go way back. Even when the latter had to transfer to a different junior high school, both girls promised to eventually meet up at the same high school. Then in high school, they joined track together. It’s funny how quickly and abruptly things can change.
— Again, we see the recurring motifs of there being two worlds existing side-by-side.
— Akira now belongs on one side, and Haruka belongs on the other side. Just like Akira has new friends now, so does Haruka. We often judge others by their actions, and not their intentions. Haruka is hurt because Akira is avoiding her. Nevertheless, I’m sure Akira isn’t avoiding Haruka because she suddenly dislikes her childhood friend. Rather, it’s just too painful for our heroine to even go near track and anything associated with it. At the same time, she can’t tell her friend to quit track. That would be unfair to Haruka. So what can she do?
— What about Haruka? Has she tried to reach out to Akira? Maybe she has, but we just don’t know. Maybe she knows her friend better than we do. She should; after all, they were childhood friends. So maybe she knows it would only hurt Akira more if she pushed the issue. It’s hard to say, because we only get a few scant moments with Haruka.
— The season has turned to summer, and the smoldering heat is getting to our heroine. She briefly considers indulging in ice cream, but she quickly changes her mind. I agree. Ice cream is great and all, but it’s not a thirst quencher. And our girl is definitely thirsty.
— Case in point.
— But every time she leaves school, she has to pass by the track and field team. Often times, she’ll even run into Haruka and her old teammates. The scar on Akira’s leg has healed, but it doesn’t mean the one on her heart has. So all she can do is run. Figuratively. She runs away from the school and from the bland suburban life beneath her. And when she runs, it feels as though she elevates high into the sky. This motif becomes important later. And because Akira runs, she eventually finds herself at the one place that truly grants her reprieve from all the pain and sorrows of childhood: the diner.
— Like how Akira and Haruka belong in two different worlds, they also belong in two different time periods. They are both looking in opposite directions. Haruka looks at Akira, so she can’t help but think back to the past. She can’t help but think back to their childhood and the promises they made. Haruka is still in her childhood, and she wants to stay there. Meanwhile, Akira looks at Haruka and sees a childhood she can no longer embrace. That childhood is just full of a broken dream — a dream where she once could run. So when Akira turns away towards adulthood where she can work and fall in love. At some point in our lives, we have to acknowledge that our childhood will soon be over. We won’t be able to hang out after school with our friends, we won’t be able to run carelessly into the wind, so on and so forth. Haruka doesn’t have to move on yet and rightfully so. Akira’s injury has forced her to cut her childhood short, and this is something that Haruka can’t empathize with. This is what keeps these two apart.
— But even though Akira is turning towards adulthood, she isn’t quite there yet. She still has one foot planted in childhood. After all, she is under-aged and she is still a high school student. The next day, Akira hears a pair of schoolgirls talk about a certain lucky key chain that will help you get closer to the one you love. Naturally, Akira is taken up by the childish superstition. She immediately tries to play the gacha game in the hopes of landing the lucky black key chain. As a result, this provides an opening for Haruka.
— Christ, just how many key chains did she end up “winning?” Did Akira really carry that many coins on her?
— But even though this is the closest these two former friends have gotten to each other in a long time, Haruka still finds it difficult to say what she wants to say. So in the end, these two end up back where they started this episode: in two different worlds.
— On the practice field, Haruka goes for one last attempt, and all of a sudden, she starts to remember. Back then when they were just children, Haruka could barely keep up with Akira. They were always running, but it seemed as though Akira was always faster. Did she join track just to be with her friend? Well, it’s funny how only one of them is still running anymore… but from a certain point of view, Haruka is still chasing after Akira. If Akira is looking towards the future, and Haruka is still lost in the past, then the latter remains one step behind. And of course, even though Akira can no longer physically run, she’s still running. There’s no doubt about it.
— These are sweat drops, but they could also be seen metaphorically as tear drops. When two people have been friends for a long time, it’s easy to forget why they became friends in the first place. Even though Haruka is looking towards the past, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means she can self-reflect. She can meditate and think on why Akira is so important to her. Can we say the same about Akira?
— At the bus stop, Haruka calls out to Akira and tosses her one of the gacha balls. In it, Akira finds the lucky key chain along with a note about their friendship. Sometimes, looking to the past helps us confront the future that we are so afraid of. Haruka realizes that she and Akira can’t have the same friendship from their childhood anymore. Things have changed. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean they can’t still be friends. Their friendship just has to evolve beyond track and field. But this epiphany didn’t come easy. And when Akira looks back up to the school, she can no longer see her friend. Out of embarrassment and/or shame, Haruka has ducked out of view.
— This isn’t (thankfully) an anime that relies upon the main character’s narration in order to convey their inner thoughts. Instead, the show leans instead on its visuals. We don’t get to hear what Akira thinks about her friend’s note, but we can make an educated guess.
Storm clouds gather and it begins to rain. Akira soon finds herself at the city library, and of course, she enters it take refuge from the rain. Even though Haruka has extended a branch, Akira isn’t ready to respond in kind. The pain of losing her childhood is still too great, and that’s understandable. She suffered a great, traumatic loss after all. So what can she do but run? And through sheer luck, helping a stranger leads her to a place where she might find Kondo. And ultimately, that’s what this episode is about. Unable to cope with the dark clouds within her, Akira does what she has always done: continue to lean on her wishful love of her manager in order to get her through the day.
— Akira asks Kondo to recommend a book to her, but he mistakenly thinks she wants to read for her own sake. Instead, she only wants to hear his recommendation so that she can understand him better. But still, his message comes from the right place: she needs to find her true calling.
— We briefly cut to Haruka at one point, and she has one of the key chains Akira gifted her attached to her book bag. I truly feel for Haruka. It hurts to lose a friend. But these things take time.
— Akira: “I wonder if photo books count as reading.” Ehhhhh…
— Akira ends up picking out Soseki Natsume’s Botchan. Kondo also takes an interest in a specific novel later in the episode. Unfortunately, I have not had the time and privilege to read classic Japanese literature, so I have no clue what subtext they might provide to this story. That’s a pity. I have read Soseki Natsume’s Kokoro, but nothing else by him.
— Akira has a library card and Kondo doesn’t, so she offers to borrow a book for him. He then fortuitously spots this book and it calls out to him. For some reason, his mood has shifted considerably. Afterwards, he departs from Akira without having much to say other than expressing his gratitude for the book. Chihiro… I wonder if that’s also the name of his ex-wife. Or maybe a previous lover that continues to stir up regrets even to this day.
— Meanwhile, we take a peek in Akira’s bag and see that she has checked out a photo book on running. Even if track and field is painful to her, it’s still a dream she can’t let go of.
— The rain has finally stopped and the (full) moon peeks out from under the clouds. This is a gorgeous anime. Akira suddenly hears nothing but the wind, and she begins to fade into the sky before us:
In Haruka’s flashback, a younger Akira tells us that she experiences this same feeling whenever she is running. Where is she running to now? What change did Haruka’s note effect in her? Is it the reason why she checked out that photo book on running? Something to think about before the story continues in next week’s episode.
— Bonus: came across this performance and thought it was cool.