But I guess we just have to deal with it, because these are the baby steps that Kaede needs to take in order to liberate herself from hikikomori-dom.
— The start of the episode quickly reassures us that last week’s cliffhanger is nothing to worry about. We see Mai doing a live press conference where she has to answer questions about her relationship with Sakuta. Of course, it’s silly that she has to apologize, but at least this didn’t become a scandal or anything. Still, we’ve all heard horror stories of crazy fans going nuts about their favorite celebrities. Let’s just hope Mai doesn’t have one of those weirdo stalkers.
— We follow up that scene with one of those patented groanworthy couple moments:
Yup. It’s cute and cringey at the same time.
— When Sakuta gets home, he finds a letter from Shoko-san in his mailbox. I know the focus will be on Kaede, but I guess we can afford to sprinkle in some Shoko mysteriousness.
— Needless to say, Sakuta feels guilty about meeting his first love after his current girlfriend just went on TV to affirm their relationship. Mai could’ve easily just lied and say that Sakuta is nothing more than a good male friend. Career-wise, you could say she went out on a limb for him (granted, he’s also helped her revive her career), so it’d be lame for him to just turn around and meet up with Shoko privately. He also realizes he’d be a hypocrite.
— So of course, our hero runs to Rio for advice. What does the bespectacled girl do? She takes matter into her own hands and tells Mai everything. Womp womp.
— It doesn’t matter anyway. Mai is like the most understanding girlfriend ever. Does she get mad at Sakuta? Of course not. She even offers to swing by later to cook him dinner.
— To show his appreciation, Sakuta declares his love for Mai by screaming out the window. Technically, she kinda did the same thing by going on live TV.
— And I guess the guy’s punishment is that he can’t make out with her. Darn.
— Afterwards, we bump into one of Kaede’s former classmates. The girl fills Sakuta in on what has happened at their school, how she feels guilty, yadda yadda yadda. She also wants to meet Kaede, but Sakuta doesn’t think that this is a good idea. Well, the girl can’t even answer the phone, so I doubt she could handle meeting an old friend. Kaede’s probably scared of her own shadow.
— Finally, Sakuta gets to the beach where Mai is waiting, but Shoko is nowhere to be found. Rather than just stand around until the sun goes down, our hero decides to leave his first love a message. Uh-huh. I dunno, I find it a little weird. Yes, he wants to make a gesture that shows Mai that he isn’t remotely hung up on his first love, but what if Shoko just wanted to meet him to talk about platonic stuff?
— Anyways, when Sakuta finally gets home, Kaede shows him her big book of goals. Naturally, every single goal has something to do with Sakuta. How do you people not get grossed out by a girl casually confessing that she wants to flirt and go on a date with her big bro? The guy has to push her to make other goals like going to see pandas.
— I guess there is a silver lining. First, although Sakuta never shuts Kaede down hard, he never acts inappropriately with her either. I know, what a feat, right? Second, Kaede is never jealous about Mai. She pretty much accepts that her brother loves someone else. So maybe her brother complex is just some silly joke that I don’t get. Hopefully.
— What did Mai make for dinner? Something with yellowtail, apparently.
— Shoko-chan ends up calling in the middle of dinner, but no real answers here. As you might expect, she doesn’t know anything about a letter. Also, she hasn’t been visiting because she isn’t feeling well? Hm.
— You gonna let your girlfriend make dinner and do the dishes too?
— Afterwards, Kaede tells both Sakuta and Mai why she’s trying to so hard to become independent. I guess now’s as good a time as any. But if Sakuta had never met Mai, then maybe Kaede never would’ve felt the push to take the first step forward. Good thing her brother is such a playboy, huh?
— So the little sister proceeds to practice answering phone calls from Mai. One successful attempt, however, is enough to wear the girl out and make her nearly faint. Not only that, when Sakuta goes to tuck her in later, he spots a rash on the girl’s neck. Might wanna see a doctor about that. No? Okay…
— The guy also dreams about a moment he had shared with Shoko-san in the past. Back in the real world, we see him tear up in his sleep. Does he still love Shoko-san like he loves Mai? I don’t think so. But clearly, he hasn’t gotten any closure over her situation, and that’s bugging him more than he would like to openly admit. Do I think closure is a thing? Well, a lot of people seem to think so. I personally think it’s not that important.
— We then get a scene with Tomoe. This simply reminds us that the girl still exists, but honestly, she barely has a role to play anymore. Mai is the girlfriend. Rio still gives out sage advice. We just got done with Nodoka so it’s okay if she doesn’t have a role to play. But what does Tomoe do? Nothing really.
— Again, when Sakuta returns home, Kaede has more goals to show him. More Sakuta-centric goals.
— Eventually, the girl gets clothes from Mai to wear. Hey, can’t go out in public in that panda onesie… not all the time, anyways.
— And with Sakuta’s help, the girl finally manages to step outside of the apartment. I mean, he had to trick her a bit, but it’s like ripping off a bandaid. Gotta do it one go.
— Just like that, the dam has broken. Kaede continues to make more and more progress into the real world. So much that we jump straight to November. Sadly, the girl still clings to her brother like a leech, but sigh… baby steps…
— Finally, Kaede’s best efforts take her to day of fun and games at the beach, because that’s how this show works. Every girl ends up going to the beach at one point. The beach is where all the happening stuff goes down. All the emotional pains, plot twists, and grand epiphanies. So it surprises nobody when Kaede’s former friend suddenly calls out to her.
— So what’s the big deal? Well, Kaede doesn’t remember this girl at all. Sakuta then turns to Mai and finally reveals the truth about his sister’s condition: she’s apparently lost all of her memories of back then. I wonder if she also lost her memories of her parents too. Her mom had a breakdown herself, right? I guess this would somewhat make sense if the woman’s daughter suddenly no longer recognized her. Wouldn’t justify both parents leaving these two kids to fend for themselves, though.
— How do I feel about this episode? Eh. I’m pretty indifferent to Kaede.