Seeing Rin talking happily with Asa, Nerine and Sia decide that he should go on a date with her. When they suggest it, he’s a bit reluctant, but decides to do it. Itsuki and Mayumi also get involved, and the four plot out a schedule for Rin at an amusement park, with the ultimate goal being a confession. Rin and Asa go to the Kanto Cupid Land as planned, but since Rin seems to be rather nervous and is not taking the initiative, his (disguised) friends (Itsuki, Mayumi, Nerine, and Sia) have to give him several pushes. Asa notices that Rin is still paying more attention to the schedule than to her, so she takes the lead and pulls Rin onto several rides. The two actually manage to have some fun before the day draws to a close. Rin takes Asa on a Ferris wheel ride during the sunset for the confession, like the schedule tells him to, but he is unable to go through with it. Asa tries to kiss him through eating a cookie together, and the two get close, but the ride ends before they can. After disembarking the Ferris wheel, Asa calls out Rin’s friends who were watching nearby and takes and reads the schedule/map, which tells Rin to do things like confess on the Ferris wheel. Asa is very hurt and furious that Rin’s own feelings weren’t behind this, so she slaps him and leaves. At home, Kaede has been busying herself while Rin is out. She even makes him dinner, but he doesn’t eat it when he gets home. The episode ends with a very blank-eyed Kaede standing in the dark and dumping Rin’s dinner into the garbage.
What ever happened to our strong, resolute Rin? Today’s Rin flounders around so much that even I wanted to slap him silly. He royally screws it up with Asa, and the continued negligence of Kaede has started to take its effects. Granted, Sia, Nerine, Itsuki, and Mayumi weren’t really helping when they pushed Rin into the date because he probably wasn’t ready to take the next step yet. But Rin himself is unable to confess or kiss her. It’s also interesting to note that Rin never admits that he likes Asa. I think that shows that there’s still some conflict in his heart, since he can’t come out and directly say that he likes her (to her or anyone else).
And that leaves us with Kaede, who basically hasn’t gotten any story since back in episode five. She looks downright scary standing in the dark at the end of the episode, and the preview shows more scenes from their past. I think Rin “losing” Asa right now, and the story moving forward in a Kaede direction means that it will ultimately go back to Asa. Especially since the preview also shows and ends on Asa looking shocked and maybe having an attack of some sort.
Closing Thought: It appears that SHUFFLE! isn’t airing the week before New Year’s Day. The schedule lists episode 23 on December 22nd, but then there’s a movie shown in that timeslot the next week. So this is advanced warning that it appears that SHUFFLE! isn’t airing on December 29th.