true tears – 12
Without saying anything, Shinichirou watches as Noe lets Jibeta go and tells the chicken to fly. When Jibeta doesn’t, Noe picks the chicken back up and raises it above her head, but she realizes that it’s no good. She understands that if they don’t decide for themselves, then they can’t be happy or laugh or cry. Noe feels that she disdained Jibeta because she thought the chicken was the same as her in that it couldn’t fly, but she knows now that it chose not to fly and that facing straight ahead with confidence is the same as flying. Seeing that Noe is okay, Shinichirou eventually returns home and wonders what she was talking about because he feels that he’s the one who identified himself with Jibeta, the one who didn’t notice that Jibeta was amazing, and the one who avoided facing everything. He realizes that, whereas Jibeta chose not to fly, he did not personally choose a single thing, whether it be the dance, the picture book, Noe, or Hiromi. He didn’t want to dance not because he couldn’t do it well, but because he didn’t want to be compared with his father. He wasn’t able to write the picture book not because he didn’t feel up to it, but because he was scared of finding out his limits. Noe meanwhile returns home and finds Jun cooking, so she hugs him and thanks him over and over again.
The next day, the day of the festival, Hiromi finds Shinichirou dozing off while finishing changing clothes. She asks him if he was able to sleep properly after things calmed down last night and apologizes because she knows that he had practiced for this day. Hiromi then wonders where best to see him for the main dance, and this reminds Shinichirou of what Noe had once said about watching him from the front. He responds by telling Hiromi that since it’ll be really crowded, she doesn’t need to overexert herself to see him. A short time later, Shinichirou takes his place with the other dancers, and they begin the procession. While this is going on, Aiko arrives late to help out the Nakagami family and sees Hiromi again for the first time in a long time. Aiko then notices Noe watching them from a nearby corner, and after Noe realizes that they’ve seen her, she runs off. Aiko thinks that Noe came to see Shinichirou and suggests that Noe is still his girlfriend, but Hiromi declares that Shinichirou’s girlfriend is actually her, and she decides to chase after Noe. This surprises Aiko, but she accepts that it’s all stuff that she doesn’t know.
Hiromi eventually catches up to Noe and questions what Noe said to Shinichirou last night. Before Noe can answer, Hiromi reveals that he had told her that he’d do everything properly, and not only does Hiromi admit to having always liked him, she thinks that he’s had the same feelings for her. Realizing that she’s saying some really selfish things, Hiromi apologizes, however she nevertheless asks Noe to leave them alone since she and Shinichirou now finally understand each other. Hiromi starts crying as she finishes saying all this, and Noe comments on how pretty those tears are before walking off. Elsewhere in town, Shinichirou visits the imagawayaki stand during a break and finds Nobuse manning it. After serving him, Nobuse asks Shinichirou what he’s doing coming here since he’s one of the main dancers, and to Nobuse’s surprise, Shinichirou agrees with him and wonders the same thing. Noe meanwhile returns home and tries to cover her ears so that she can’t hear the music playing everywhere. She hears the phone ring though, and after answering it, she digs an envelope addressed to Jun out of the trash and runs to the motorcycle shop where he works.
The phone call had been from a Tokyo printing company, and Noe now confronts her brother about deciding on his own that he’d find a job instead of going to a technical college after high school. In trying to explain himself, Jun talks about how Noe shut herself in her room for a while after their grandmother died. He felt that he had to protect her, but he hadn’t understood that he only wanted to think that way. Jun goes on to confess that he loves Noe, and when she immediately says that she loves him too, he clarifies that he likes her a little more than that. He admits that because he knows that having those feelings are weird, he asked that person to do such a thing. Noe doesn’t know who Jun is talking about and doesn’t quite understand what he means, so Jun decides to ask if he can kiss her. She agrees to let him if he rethinks his plan of looking for a job, and Jun starts by kissing her on the forehead and on the cheek. He then attempts to kiss her on the lips, but right as he gets close, Noe realizes what he’s doing and backs away. With Noe in shock, Jun admits that this was probably the kind of kiss he wanted to do and that staying by her side was too painful for him. He then starts crying and walks out, leaving Noe behind thinking about how she didn’t notice the true feelings of her brother, of Hiromi, or of Shinichirou. All this causes her to wonder if tears can really flow from her eyes that don’t see anything.
By this time, the main dance at the shrine has begun, and as he performs, Shinichirou thinks about a reworking of his story where Raigomaru stands on the hill with the desire to fly. He understands now that him feeling that he could write a picture book was due to how those eyes believed that he could fly. The desire to fly in the sky isn’t for anyone’s sake or for glory or a record, and, in the story, Raigomaru took off. As she watches Shinichirou from the audience, Hiromi suddenly notices that Noe is also watching from nearby, though by the time the dance ends, Noe is gone. Shinichirou notices this too and tries to look for Noe afterwards, but he instead runs into Hiromi. She knows that he’s searching for Noe and reveals that she had told Noe to leave them alone. When she asks if he’s angry about this, Shinichirou claims that he’s not really and excuses himself to go. As Shinichirou walks off, Hiromi quietly tells him not to leave her behind and even takes off her right shoe, but he never realizes any of this. Shinichirou’s mind is instead filled with his desire to show Noe his newly finished story and to get her feedback on it. He figures out that Noe is probably at school and rushes there, but what he doesn’t know is that she’s climbing the big tree because she wants to know how the view is from the sky and if she’ll be able to see if she looks down from above. Shinichirou arrives just in time to see her jump out of the tree and land with a thump.
Once again I have to give credit to the writers for keeping things so interesting. Hiromi declaring that she was Shinichirou’s girlfriend was a big enough flag in my mind (reminded me a little of School Days even), but for her then to say the same don’t-leave-me-behind line and for her to take off one of her shoes right after Shinichirou leaves her to look for Noe raises even more flags about their relationship. And then Noe had to jump out of the tree… We know she’s probably okay because she speaks again in the preview, but it’s unclear what’s really going to end up happening between her and Shinichirou.
The main argument I would make for Shinichirou still ending up with Hiromi is how he only really wanted to show Noe his completed story, and so maybe there are not enough feelings of love in him towards Noe for complete Noe ending. On the other hand, the way he treated Hiromi and the way he was thinking about Noe all the time are kind of damning, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Hiromi decides to let him go because she thinks that he cares about Noe more. These kind of balance each other out, so I’m sticking to my original assertion that he’ll help Noe get her tears back and end up with Hiromi. But the point is that the fact that we can still be debating this after what happened at the end of episode 10 means that the writers have really done their job well. Hopefully the finale will be just as exciting as all the stuff that’s led up to it.