Watching the preparations for the school festival, Shuuji remembers a discussion he had with another teacher about Hagu’s future. Hagu had gotten another invitation email to go study abroad, but it looks like Hagu will instead return to Nagano after graduating. The teacher voiced her concern about Shuuji continuing to look after Hagu even after graduation. However, the current Shuuji thinks of this as his final school festival. Nearby, Hagu is looking from a drawer for some brush cleaner when she finds a card with print of the Moonlight painting. Shuuji gets nostalgic and tells Hagu that it’s a drawing by Edvard Munch, who Hagu identifies as the man who painted The Scream. He recalls how when he was in college, there was a big Munch exhibit at the museum of modern art. He had gone with his friends and that’s when he bought the card. Shuuji remembers how those friends had been Harada and Rika, and how they had been drinking and admiring the view of the moon on water after having seen the exhibit. The scenery reminded Harada of the movie song “Moon River”, and he had suddenly gotten the urge to cross over the water, though Shuuji had tried to hold him back. Shuuji tried to get Rika to help him stop Harada too, but the drunken Rika said that she’d go if Harada goes. Harada freed himself from Shuuji, made it into the water, and then urged Rika to join him. Shuuji had tried to stop Rika from going in, but she starts falling towards Harada. It is at this moment that Shuuji wakes up from the nightmare.
Shuuji then remembers the accident which took Harada’s life. It had also left Rika with half her body in agony. When Rika stopped eating, Shuuji had told her that she couldn’t let herself die – she couldn’t go to the place where Harada is. She eventually came to her senses and started trying to eat and live with all her might. Rika completely absorbed herself in the work that Harada had left, but Shuuji could always hear the silent scream from her back. He realized that although it had always been the three of them together, it was in reality two people and one person. No matter how much he liked Harada or considered Rika precious, the only thing he could do was to continue to watch them be happy; Shuuji had wanted them to be together forever. Finally, on one occasion, he had walked up behind her with his hand outstretched. When she spotted him, he had tried to figure out what he was doing. She had embraced him and apologized because she realized the emotional condition that he was in. Rika suggested that they separate because they couldn’t stay together like this, though she had confessed to loving him first. Thinking about it all in the present, Shuuji feels bad for not being able to lead and support Rika, but being with Hagu is what’s allowed him to walk this far. He thinks that the man standing beside Rika now will be able to take her towards tomorrow.
Sometime later, Rika is with Mayama seeing an old man off at a train station. Afterwards, Mayama is thinking about how Rika no longer has anyone beside her because that person has been lost for eternity. The next train that pulls in beside them is the Cassiopeia Train, and Mayama catches Rika looking destination sign that says “Sapporo.” Remembering how she stared at her computer screen, Mayama decides to lift her up by the arms and put her on the train. The door closes behind them soon after and the train starts moving. A confused Rika wants to get off at the Oomiya stop, but Mayama suggests that they go to Hokkaido because she’s never gone back home. He doesn’t think that she’d agree, so when the train conductor comes by to check their tickets, Rika surprises Mayama by asking if there are still any vacant rooms; she wants to go all the way to Sapporo. The two check into their cabin and sit down, but Mayama has a hard time breaking the silence between them. Rika finally says that they left at 4:20PM, and that they’ll arrive in Sapporo the next morning at 9AM – a total of approximately 17 hours. With no laptops and their materials back at the office, Rika wonders how long it’s been since she’s had nothing to do. This is the kind of time people pay money to get. Mayama thinks to himself that her mumblings are like a soliloquy that melts the scenery blurred by the rain – becoming sleepy, becoming lonely, and becoming happy.
Mayama admits to himself that he’s always been uneasy whenever they finish a job, whenever Rika hums that song, and whenever he looks up at the moon. As night falls outside the train, Rika decides to get ready for bed so she heads for the shower first. Mayama is ready to let Rika have the bedroom to herself, but she insists that he’s big person and needs to be sleeping on a bed. After his own shower, Mayama joins her in the bedroom and the two go to sleep once he sets the alarm clock to 7AM. However, he is kept awake because of a mix of happiness and anxiety. By the time Rika wakes up the next morning, she discovers that Mayama is not in his bed. Instead, she’s astonished to see him sleeping on the chair in the adjoining room. The two soon arrive in Sapporo and disembark from the train. Rika explains that her home is far from the urban areas of Otaru. Going off to go rent a car, Mayama inquires if she wants anything, so Rika asks for some milk and biscuits.
During the drive, Mayama admits that this is his first time in Hokkaido and that’s it really spacious here. Rika says that there aren’t any traffic lights or signs, so it’s good that they have a navigation system. She thanks him for the blanket that’s covering her legs and then expresses her concern over his lack of proper sleep. Mayama just consumes a handful of Black Mint Gum and says that he’s ok. As the two drive north on the small national highway that’s surrounded by rock, Mayama sees to his left the colorless Sea of Japan. The two eventually reach the place that had fallen into ruin, Rika’s hometown. Rika explains that the house that everyone left became crushed by the snow and then became exposed to nature once spring came. The last time she came here was when her father died. That time, Harada had been with her to comfort her by telling her that she had him. Rika then walks forward, opens the pack of biscuits, and buries a few in the dirt. She apologizes to Shiro for not coming to visit. Shiro was her dog from when she was little all the way until she was in high school, a span of 13 years. In this land with nothing, Shiro was always by her side. Rika then thanks Mayama for bringing her him because she couldn’t have come on her own. She was finally able to come here and properly visit. As she’s wiping her tears away, Mayama grabs her dirty hand and starts rubbing it. He hugs her, understanding that the thing she tied has become untied. She’s tearing up the tapes of separation one after another.
Mayama and Rika spend the night together at a hotel, with Rika sleeping in Mayama’s arms. The next morning, Rika attempts to sneak out, but an alarm goes off when she tries to take her purse. Getting up, Mayama disarms the trap that he had set because he had a feeling she was going to do something like this. He knows that going together to Europe was a lie because he knows that she’s arranged a plane ticket for only one and that she’s searching for an apartment for only one. Mayama accuses her of going to finish her husband’s work and then planning on dying. His voice now in a yell, he tells her not to think that it’s possible to die so easily. As his tears hit the floor, Mayama begs her to try to live properly. She collapses on the ground with him and puts her arms around him. After a while, Mayama picks himself back up and asks her to leave the room so that he can get himself together again. He suggests that she go to the lounge for some tea, though he refuses to let her leave with her purse. Sometime later, a now-embarrassed Mayama comes to the hotel lounge and tells Rika that he’s checked them out of the hotel. He’s also reserved them seats on a 12:30PM flight back. He’s about to say something concerning what had happened earlier, but she suggests he sit down because they still have some time before the flight.
Two days later, Mayama sees Rika off at Narita, and right up to the last minute the two talk about work. Mayama returns to the office, and while he is tidying up the place, he peeps into her mail again. He discovers that the requirements for the apartment she was searching for have now been changed to an apartment with two bedrooms.
I found this to be a very powerful episode in terms of how they developed Mayama and Rika’s relationship. Never mind that the two were in bed together, it was a combination of the raw emotion during that confrontation with great music (the insert song) and great animation (I don’t think I’ve seen that expression on Mayama’s face before) . And then at the end, right as the ending song is starting, they hit you with the realization that the event really effected Rika, enough for her to change her plans. Incidentally, this week’s insert song is 「ほのほ」 (Honoho) by Spitz from their 2005 album 「スーベニア」 (Souvenir).
So if there were any doubts about Rika and Mayama ending up together, this should have cleared those up. Shuuji put it best when he said that Mayama was the one who could take her towards tomorrow. This episode also explains a bit about Shuuji’s relationship with Rika, and how Shuuji is now devoted to Hagu. I assume since he calls this the last festival that he’ll be joining Hagu in Nagano after graduation.
On a semi-random note, drunken Rika during the flashback/nightmare reminded me a lot of Hazumu.
Next week, more NomiyaXYamada (with Leader caught in the middle).