Strawberry Panic! – 19
Nagisa wakes up and finds Miyuki at her bedside. Noticing the key around Nagisa’s neck, Miyuki apologizes and then decides to tell Nagisa everything. It is a long story that stretches back to three years ago when she and Shizuma were third-years. It was then that she had met a new student, Sakuragi Kaori, who became her and Shizuma’s room helper. Not having met the girl yet, Shizuma was initially unhappy with the setup, but Miyuki explained that they were specially assigned Kaori because she had had a weak body since she was little. Shizuma teases Miyuki for being obedient and wanting a seat on the student council. Miyuki had said that a wonderful Étoile needs the strong support of the student council, causing Shizuma to remark that she was thinking about being Étoile. After some more teasing, the two had gone to Kaori’s room where Shizuma saw Kaori for the first time. Shizuma’s first words to Kaori after introducing herself say that Kaori is truly beautiful, just like Miyuki had told her earlier. The three quickly hit it off and during late night tea one time, Kaori started drinking from a cup Shizuma had already taken a sip from.
On a trip to Shizuma’s vacation home, the three had gone star gazing one night. Miyuki talks about a meteor shower which is still a while away, making Kaori wonder if she’ll still be around then. Shizuma had said that of course she would, but Kaori had thought that it wouldn’t have been as happy as today. As Miyuki watched on, Shizuma had held Kaori close. In the time that followed, Shizuma and Kaori’s relationship continued to develop, leading up to a late night rendezvous under that tree in the forest. Kaori had even gone and thanked Miyuki for bringing her and Shizuma together. It was not until winter of one year later that Miyuki confronted Shizuma about her Étoile application, which had been co-signed by Kaori. Miyuki was very concerned about if Kaori’s weak body would be able to handle being one of the Étoiles. Shizuma herself had agreed that Kaori probably wouldn’t be able to endure it. She had led Miyuki to Kaori’s room where Kaori was in her nightgown and by her bedside was a medical machine. It is in Kaori’s bathroom that Miyuki asked why Kaori hasn’t been hospitalized yet and Shizuma replied that it was already too late. That’s why they decided to be Étoiles. Miyuki understood the situation and immediately supported the two, saying that there wasn’t anyone who could beat them.
Indeed, Shizuma and Kaori succeeded at becoming the Étoiles. Before the inauguration ceremony, Miyuki had helped Kaori into her dress and led her out to Shizuma. At the front of the church, Kaori was supposed to walk towards Shizuma, but she only managed a couple of steps before she fell backwards and Miyuki had to catch her. With Miyuki supporting her, Kaori walked forward, saying that she heard the angels’ song as the choir sang. With her body getting weaker by the minute, Kaori thanked Miyuki for everything and kept mentioning the angels’ song. She had then fallen forward, right into Shizuma’s arms. Kaori had managed to look up and say Shizuma’s name, but otherwise all she could do was hold on to Shizuma as the student body watched. Kaori soon passed away and her room became vacant; it was decided that no one would use it. Standing outside of that room, Miyuki had commented on how Shizuma didn’t cry. Shizuma said that Kaori didn’t cry either, even with death always in front of her. Miyuki then said that since this room was no one’s now, no one would know whatever happened here. Shizuma had walked into the room and Miyuki closed the door behind her. Her mind filled with memories of Kaori, Shizuma had finally started crying, alone in that room.
The present Miyuki tells Nagisa that this is everything she knows – since then, Shizuma’s heart has been closed. She thinks that, even now, Kaori is in Shizuma’s heart in places that no one else can fill. Nagisa meanwhile has been moved to tears by this story and is crying on Miyuki’s back. Miyuki admits that she wants Nagisa to return Shizuma to how she was before, to let her forget about Kaori. She apologizes, but Nagisa just keeps crying.
The Yuri is strong in this one…
Seriously though, a lot of emotion in the final moments of this episode, though perhaps not quite as much as last week. Last week set the stage for us learning here why Shizuma has such strong feelings for Kaori. But in actuality, I think I came out of this episode with the most respect for Miyuki, who supported Shizuma through everything (even though there were a couple of points where Miyuki almost felt like a third wheel). And it’s Miyuki who now Nagisa to help Shizuma. In a sense, what Miyuki said earlier about having a strong student council support behind the Étoile came true, but on a much more personal level. Additionally, the scene where Kaori thanked Miyuki and the very end of the episode had both girls at Miyuki’s back, a testament perhaps to both Miyuki’s strong character and the Nagisa/Kaori parallelism.
As for Shizuma, I really like how she used to be – fun, teasing. That’s discounting the fact that those qualities lead to a lot of yuri moments. It reminds me a lot of how Shizuma is portrayed in the manga version of this series. Nagisa’s got her work cut out for her though if she’s going to be trying to return Shizuma to how she used to. The series is very much going a ShizumaXNagisa path right now (as if there were any doubt), but next episode does look to complicate things a bit with a Tamao-centric episode titled 「告白」 (kokuhaku- Confession).