Kotori, who is out shopping, catches Junichi staring at some revealing bathing suits. After a very brief chat, Junichi realizes the time and leaves to return to Nemu. The next day, the entire group sets out for the beach, arriving at a cabin after a bus ride. They then get dressed and head to the beach. Nemu gets there early so that her brother can be first to see her swimsuit. The rest of the girls soon arrive in their swimwear, except for Kotori, and a fun day at the beach ensues. Taking a rest from the activities, Junichi finds Kotori also taking a break. He takes the chance to thank her for supporting him over the past two years. Aisia chases a ball nearby and is about to call out to Junichi when she notices how happily the two are talking. Kotori sits closer to Junichi, but as she is about to lean on him, Nemu calls out his name. Aisia sees all this and starts to understand what’s going on. During the barbeque, Nemu and Junichi thank everyone for all they’ve done over the past two years while Nemu has been gone. After Junichi and Suginami go to get more food, Nemu personally thanks Kotori again. Kotori replies its ok because she likes Junichi. There is an awkward pause as everyone takes in what she just said. Mako saves her by saying that she also likes Junichi, and the rest soon chime in in agreement. After the meal, Aisia finds Kotori standing at the end of the dock watching the sunset. Aisia asks Kotori if she really likes Junichi, and Kotori replies that she likes him a lot. For the rest of the night, Aisia can only watch as Kotori puts on a strong face in front of everyone. Once they are all asleep (except Aisia), Kotori sneaks out. She dances alone in her swimsuit on the moonlit beach, even pretending to wave at someone who isn’t there. As she floats in the water with tears in her eyes, she reassures herself that it’s ok. Aisia, watching Kotori from the woods, realizes that she really doesn’t understand Kotori.
Finally! A Kotori episode!
This is a beach episode, and as you can see, there’s plenty of fanservice. But more importantly, this one focuses on Kotori, and it’s not a one-shot. Junichi, though on Nemu’s leash, manages to get in several moments that reinforce Kotori’s feelings for him. And Kotori herself actually comes out and admits to Aisia that she really likes him. It’s taken a while, but we’re finally focusing on their relationship. I definitely like the last couple of minutes where we see how lonely Kotori really is. I find that scene quite sad and touching, especially with the music, the wave to nobody, and the tears. This episode is far from perfect though. The animation was a low quality in several shots, and the first half of the episode seemed rather wasted with lotsa fanservice.
Anyway, I’m rooting for Kotori, but, like I’ve said before, there’s no way she can win unless Nemu leaves the picture. I encourage the director to prove me wrong, but for now, the most I can hope for is some good drama and angst. However, the Aisia angle is the unpredictable one. It’s very possible that she’ll help (or try to help) Kotori get together with Junichi, or find a solution where everyone is happy. She might even try to use the great sakura tree.
Next week is critical. If the writers want Kotori to be a threat to Nemu, next episode is the time to do it (or at least keep developing this angle). If they end up knocking her out of the picture (i.e. she confesses, but he turns her down), then I really don’t know where they’re heading with the story. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and wait…
Edit a few hours later: relentlessflame of the ASuki forums pointed out something that I hadn’t noticed: Kotori’s playing in the water mirrors almost exactly what happened in episode 1. I rewatched that part and uploaded comparison shot. That just makes me like the scene even more…