Strawberry Panic! – 18
Shizuma and Nagisa take the long walk through the autumn forest to get to the vacation home. Halfway there, Shizuma stops and suggests that they eat what Tamao prepared. The sandwiches inside remind Nagisa on how she had to cancel her date with Tamao to come here. She comments on how peaceful it is, and Shizuma tells her that there’s no one else around, just the two of them. Soon, however, the clouds gather and the rain starts coming down. The girls run the rest of the way to the house and Shizuma gives Nagisa the key (the one she got from Miyuki) to open the door. Shizuma comments on how it’s been two years since she was here. The two go inside and Shizuma goes off to prepare the shower. Nagisa ties the key around her own neck and then looks around the house. Shizuma lets Nagisa have the first floor shower, and when Nagisa expresses her concern, Shizuma says that she’ll be using the second floor shower. Once she gets out of the shower, Shizuma stares at a picture of herself and another girl, thinking about how long it’s been. Shizuma apologizes and then turns the picture frame face down.
With the rain coming down and the waves crashing outside, the girls drink coffee in front of the fireplace. Nagisa asks Shizuma a why me question and Shizuma simply answers that it’s because it’s Nagisa. With storm outside as severe as it is, Shizuma decides that they can’t go back today and will have to spend the night here. She calls up Miyuki at the dorm to tell her their situation, and Miyuki relays the information to Tamao. Shizuma then leads Nagisa upstairs to a room that’s not currently being used. It was the room of that girl, the other Étoile – her name was Sakuragi Kaori. Shizuma says that if Kaori were still alive, she’d be the same age as Nagisa. Back during that time, it was a stormy night too, the time when they loved each other. Shizuma wasn’t sure if it was really love or compassion or what, but she knew that they needed each other. When Kaori died, the world grew dull in color for Shizuma. That color only returned with Nagisa. Shizuma says that when Nagisa came, she was able to stand up once again. Before she goes on, Shizuma decides that they should change out of their bathrobes.
After putting on a nightgown back in her own room, Shizuma tells the picture of Kaori not to worry because she’s ok if she’s with Nagisa. When she brings a nightgown over, Shizuma notices that Nagisa is wearing the key around her neck. This sparks a memory of another necklace, one with a red stone. Then, when the room gets illuminated again from the lightning outside, Shizuma briefly sees Kaori standing in Nagisa’s place and even hears Kaori’s voice. Shizuma drops Nagisa’s nightgown and tears start flowing down her cheeks. She falls down into Nagisa’s arms, crying out Kaori’s name. The more Shizuma says “Kaori,” the more Nagisa also starts to cry. When Shizuma finally notices Nagisa’s tears, Nagisa runs out of the room and out of the house. Shizuma slowly follows her out to the nearby cliffs and puts her arm on Nagisa’s shoulder. Feeling that she’s no good, Nagisa apologizes and then runs back inside. Shizuma takes a few steps after her, but then just stares at the house with a shocked look in her eyes. The next morning, the storm has stopped and Shizuma wakes up in her own room. Nagisa is not in Kaori’s old room, and in fact, Nagisa’s uniform is gone. Back at the dorm, Tamao and Miyuki have been waiting for the two girls’ return, but they only see Nagisa walk up. When Miyuki asks about Shizuma, Nagisa simply shakes her head and apologizes. Much to Tamao’s dismay, she then collapses. Back at the vacation home, Shizuma is sitting on her own bed, staring at the photo of her and Kaori.
Wow, tons of drama and melodrama this week. There was a lightning bolt or wave crashing against the cliff for every important moment. But they also used some great piano pieces during those scenes. I’ve had the last five minutes of the episode on repeat because the music was so powerful in addition to all that raw emotion. This is one of my favorite episodes yet.
It seems that returning to this house was a bit too much for Shizuma as she has a breakdown about Kaori. The red necklace Shizuma had a vision of was a mirror of the blue one Shizuma wore when she tried to rape Nagisa previously. Anyway, Nagisa can see how much Shizuma still loves Kaori and can’t forget her. I think that Nagisa knows that she can’t be just a replacement for Kaori, which is why she ran away. So moving forward, Shizuma is going to have to show that she can love Nagisa as Nagisa and let go of Kaori.
Next week, I think they’re going actually explain what happened two years ago.