Strawberry Panic! – 24
-With limited time, Miyuki is pushing Nagisa and Tamao to dance well, which is one of the things they’ll need to do to become Étoiles. Miyuki even asks Shizuma to help coach the pair.
-After practice, Tamao and Nagisa run into Chiyo and the other girls, but they aren’t allowed to talk about what they’ve been doing on Miyuki’s orders. The two learn from the other girls that Hikari and Amane’s participation in the Étoile selection announcement had been postponed, though the girls don’t know why.
-At that time, Hikari, Yaya, and Shion are by Amane’s side in the nurse’s office. Although Amane does not appear to be hurt physically, Hikari refuses to leave her side. When it seems like Yaya and Shion have finally convinced Hikari to go get some sleep, Hikari stands up and cries a tear on Amane’s cheek. Right then, Amane opens her eyes and sits up. She seems fine at first, remembering that she fell off Starbright, but the girls soon realize that something’s wrong when Amane doesn’t know what Shion is talking about when she brings up the participation announcement. What’s more, Amane claims that she has no interest in being an Étoile and that she doesn’t even have a partner.
-The next day, Hikari follows Amane to school at a distance. Amane eventually turns around and recognizes Hikari only as one of the girls from yesterday. Since Hikari doesn’t have any important business with her, Amane asks to be left alone. Nagisa, who is watching from nearby with Tamao, takes pity on Hikari, since the two of them know what happened after some eavesdropping the previous night.
-The rumors start spreading through the school about Hikari and Amane breaking up. Yaya hears a lot of the gossip and lashes out at the girls for gossiping when they don’t know the truth.
-Nagisa and Tamao ask Miyuki to postpone their own candidacy in light of recent happenings, but Miyuki rejects the idea because she believes these are two separate things and insists on them entering the Étoile selection no matter what happens.
-Amane finds the yellow scarf from Hikari in her coat pocket, but doesn’t recognize it.
-Chikaru goes to comfort Hikari, suggesting that Amane’s heart has only been covered with snow and that Hikari as the sun would soon melt it. When Hikari takes refuge in Chikaru’s chest, Chikaru suggests that Hikari just needs to believe in Amane. By chance, Amane walks by the two in each other’s arms and excuses herself as if she was interrupting something.
-Shizuma is at the greenhouse still watering the withering flowers, remembering how Nagisa had said that they would bloom again.
-Hikari joins Amane by the lake. Amane pulls out the yellow scarf, but doesn’t say anything, and the two just stare at the sunset.
-Before their dance practice, Nagisa asks Tamao why there are two Étoiles instead of one. Tamao thinks that a person cannot live alone and goes on to explain that an Étoile has to be gentle, strict, and a leader. Nevertheless, any one person can’t be perfect, which is why there’s someone else to supplement all the points where that person is lacking. Since Nagisa came to this school, Tamao has felt that Nagisa has helped her a lot, which is why she truly feels that a person cannot live alone. Nagisa realizes that this is why there are two Étoiles – so that they can help and support each other.
-Shizuma had been standing nearby and listening in to the pair’s conversation. She walks out from backstage and urges the girl to practice. Shizuma specifically says to Nagisa to prepare herself and tells her to become Étoile. She then corrects herself and says that Nagisa must become Étoile. Under Shizuma’s coaching, the two girls continue practicing their dance. Shizuma has decided that making Nagisa into the Étoile is her own final duty as Étoile. Miyuki comes by later and smiles when she sees Shizuma helping Nagisa and Tamao.
-This episode made me want to bang my head against the wall. First Amane wakes up because Hikari cried a tear onto her cheek, which was cliché and/or cheesy enough by itself. Heck, they might as well have had Hikari kissing Amane to wake her up, fairy tale style. Anyway, then we find out Amane has amnesia, which makes everything all the more frustrating because now it feels like we’re back at square one (at least temporarily).
-It also doesn’t help that there’s not much direct ShizumaXNagisa relationship development this episode, though I guess you could say that they’ve indirectly patched things up now that Shizuma is helping Nagisa (and Tamao) become Étoiles.
-I take back what I said before about Hikari and Amane becoming Étoiles while Nagisa and Shizuma end up together – at least the first part of that statement. If I had to guess, I’d now say that it’s looking like the end might have Hikari and Amane becoming a couple finally and Nagisa and Tamao becoming Étoiles with Shizuma’s help. ShizumaXNagisa ending is still pretty high probability, but not entirely guaranteed happy, especially since Shizuma will be graduating. Who knows what’ll happen…
-Oh, and I can’t help but wonder if Hikari really had to rub her head in Chikaru’s chest like that. :)