Kanae is right: Shirase has often mentioned that her mother is waiting for her, and no matter what she means by that — whether she’s being figurative or not — she needs someone to talk to. Her own friends don’t really know the extent of Shirase’s pain, and even if they did, they aren’t equipped to deal with it. On the other hand, we naturally assume that Gin can help the girl. Not only has she lost a close friend, she’s also come to terms with it… presumably. If we make that reasonable assumption, then who better to talk to Shirase than Gin, right? But again, that’s assuming that Gin has gotten over Takako’s death. And even if she has, it’s still going to be a tough conversation with her best friend’s daughter. If she’s the selfish sort, she might even think that it isn’t her responsibility. Gin doesn’t seem like the self-centered type, though. It’s just complicated. It doesn’t help that Gin had to call off the search for Takako, which she must feel guilty about. As a result, she must naturally wonder if Shirase resents her for it. A search party in Antarctica is more than likely prohibitively expensive, so you can’t reasonably spend much time looking for a lost person, but a grieving child might not understand that.
Eventually, Gin sucks it up and meets the girl for a heart-to-heart talk. As you might expect, everyone else is listening in on the conversation. Shirase claims she doesn’t hate Gin, which is probably true. Hate is a strong word, and few of us actually hate anyone. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t resent Gin, though. That also doesn’t mean she doesn’t blame Gin for what happened to her mother. Shirase has many justifications for why she doesn’t blame Gin, but our feelings are not always logical, especially concerning a tragedy. Plus, there’s also the uncomfortable truth that no one wants to bring up: Gin probably stopped dropping by after she called off the search party. Sure, Shirase isn’t her daughter. Sure, seeing Shirase would likely remind her of Takako and therefore dredge up all those painful memories of the tragedy. On the other hand, we’re talking about a young girl who had just lost her only parent (I have yet to see her father anywhere in the picture).
More than anything, Shirase needed someone to lean on, and I can’t help but imagine Gin just avoiding her altogether if she could help it. Even worse, the latter used to try her best to dissuade the former from going to Antarctica. Gin used to be one of those doubters. And this is why we see all those scenes of Takako leaving her daughter to her best friend. The show adeptly builds up to Gin’s ultimate betrayal without being overly overt or dramatic about it. Her biggest mistake wasn’t what happened on the first expedition. Her biggest mistake wasn’t calling off the search party. No, her biggest mistake was abandoning her best friend’s daughter. Nevertheless, Shirase’s trying to do her best. She has never really allowed her personal feelings to get in the way. She’s determined to fulfill her mission, and that’s quite remarkable. She’s a teenager in high school, and she’ll become an adult in a couple years. She probably tells herself that she has to be mature. She can’t be childish and still hold onto resentment even if her true feelings might say otherwise:
Gin: “You really feel that way?”
Shirase: “I don’t know. That’s why I didn’t want to talk about it. I have no idea how I feel.”
Like we’ve discussed since the start of the series, since no one can help Shirase get closure, she’ll have to go out and look for it herself. This whole trip is all about Shirase taking things into her own hands simply because the adults wouldn’t and likely couldn’t help her. She has to be the adult herself. Getting a job just to fund this trip by herself. Coming up with an extensive plan just to get to Antarctica herself (luckily, she met some friends to help expedite the process). Then finally, going to Antarctica and finishing what her mother started… if she can’t find her mother at a place further than the universe, she will at least become her mother in a figurative sense. She will fulfill her coming-of-age journey. Of course, no child should have to go through a tragedy in order to reach adulthood, but what else is can she do? Give up? That’s not going to happen with someone like Shirase.
Unfortunately, the heart-to-heart gets interrupted when the ship slams into some ice. No matter what obstacles they encounter, the team will forge on ahead. Again and again and again, they will never give up… because they did give up once, huh? In a triumphant moment for the team, Gin is suddenly reminded of that tragic night. Apparently, she had to hear Takako’s last words. That’s kinda messed up. We realize, however, that despite their age difference, Gin and Shirase are more alike than we think. She, too, hasn’t come to terms with Takako’s death. She, too, is on this expedition to get closure. She, too, is in the midst of grieving a loss. Being an adult hasn’t helped her deal with Takako’s loss any better than Shirase. She’s just more adept at hiding it and putting on a brave face for the public. More importantly, it’s the same way Shirase tries to be mature and grown up about her feelings towards Gin. Both characters want to be tough; after all, they serve as leaders for their respective groups. Ironically, however, this strong desire of theirs is born from a tragedy. If anything, Shirase and Gin are actually the most vulnerable people on this boat.
Misc. notes & observations:
— I love the show’s penchant for just pausing on the characters’ faces. There’s also this moment in which Yuzuki looks like she’s just done (not really) with her new friends. These characters are great because they’re so expressive without always having to rely on dialogue.
— Apparently, Shirase is great at jump-roping, which surprises the other girls. “Defying expectations is kind of Shirase-chan’s thing. Like, she’s clumsier than she looks.” Ah, friends throwing casual shade.
— Gin’s still toting those flowers around, and they make Hinata wonder if it’s someone’s birthday. Probably not.
— Gross. People who fall in love when they barely know someone are gross. Also, how old is this guy?
— Oh thank God… after the OP, it turns out he actually just in love with Gin instead. I thought he was confessing to Shirase. I still stand by my statement that falling in love with someone you hardly know is gross. I’m sure he means he has a crush on her, and that he doesn’t actually love her… but still.
— I dunno why he would go to Shirase for help. His reasoning is that Shirase is an old friend of Gin, but umm, what about Kanae? What about the other members of the first expedition who must have spent way more time with Gin than Shirase?
— We could just leave this guy — Zaizen Toshio — to his own devices, but then Hinata suggests that they could report about the crew members’ romantic exploits to draw the public’s interest. That’s true, and apparently, their views have been “in the pits” lately. But I feel like since it’s her idea, she should also step in front of the camera instead of making the incredibly camera-shy Shirase pair up with Yuzuki. In fact, why aren’t all four girls just rotating as frontwomen?
— This is what Shirase looked like ten years ago. But yeah, instead of the braver girls doing it themselves, they put all the responsibilities onto Shirase’s plate instead. Yuzuki is just going through the motions.
— I like how Gin’s conversation with Kanae mirrors the main characters. It’s a nice touch. The stern, all-business team captain also has a weakness for penguins. I understand her point about not having children herself so she doesn’t know how to relate to Shirase, but there’s a huge difference between talking to a 6-year-old kid and a teenager.
— And in the end, only three of the four girls come to interview Gin. The team captain will probably have to reach out to Shirase if she wants to bridge the gap between them.
— Aw man, don’t do that.
— Gin’s type is someone like a cloud. Someone she can’t grasp but is always there. The girls all get it, but Toshio doesn’t. As a result, the girls all wistfully stare off into the horizon, and the guy just has a wide-eyed look on his face. Despite the plaintive BGM, this moment is low-key hilarious. A little later in the episode, even this guy gets it, but of course, he doesn’t have a way with words.
— Those are some derpy penguins.
— This looks cool, I guess.
— Afterward, we get a bit of history about Antarctica as it relates to Japan as well as some tidbits about the first expedition. One of the show’s main themes is defying expectations, so that’s pretty much what’s going on here.
— Oh hey, the good insert song is back. It’s a damn good thing Toshio didn’t interrupt her. Stay in your lane, buddy.
— Yumiko’s famous last words. She’s cuter than Gin, but I can’t respect a guy who swaps out his crushes like outfits, though.
— Plus, Shirase’s got a killer hat.
— Another reason why these characters are so likable versus all those other happy-go-lucky, slice-of-life shows: Shirase’s got an edge to her. She doesn’t say some flowery nonsense the moment she steps foot on Antarctica. Nah, she’s telling all her enemies and doubters to suck it. I wonder who she thinks betrayed her.
— Sorry, but I don’t remember who this is.