After telling Yuuichi to remember their training, Mai attacks the demon in front of her. She manages to defeat that one fairly quickly and then makes a jump off the wall so that she can slash down on the second one that Yuuichi is fighting. Having succeeding in dealing with those two, Yuuichi realizes that there’s only one demon left, but Mai suddenly grimaces in pain. Upon examination, Yuuichi sees that there are dark spots spreading on Mai’s arms and legs, so he suggests going to the hospital. Mai wants to fight instead, but she does ask for Yuuichi’s help. He carries her up to their normal lunch spot and then stays by her side because she needs him as bait. As she puts her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes, Yuuichi comments on how this is like hide and seek where you wait to be found. Mai remembers that she’s played it before with a friend, but this friend left her. When the two suddenly notice that the final demon is approaching them, Mai jumps at it, but she’s not able to destroy it and instead falls onto the ground. Taking up his wooden sword, Yuuichi tries to fight the demon, and then decides to lead it away.
Yuuichi gets down to a hallway when the weight of the demon collapses the ground and drops Yuuichi onto the floor below. He senses that the demon seems to want to say something to him, but it then makes another attack that knocks Yuuichi out of the window and onto the snowy yard outside. When the demon charges him again, Yuuichi tries to hold his ground, but his sword breaks under the pressure and he gets thrown back. The demon leaps onto him like an animal, but before it can do anything, Mai jumps off of the school’s rooftop and delivers a slash that destroys it. She faints soon afterwards, and when she opens her eyes, the first thing she says is that she wants to eat gyuudon. Yuuichi takes her back into the school where there’s surprisingly little damage, causing him to wonder if it was all an illusion. Since Mai keeps saying that she’s hungry, Yuuichi gives her his coat and goes to buy the food. He feels that from today onward, she should be a normal girl, but when he returns to the classroom with the gyuudon, she has disappeared. He realizes that there could have been another demon left and that everything Mai said was for the sake of letting him go.
As he’s running through the hallways, Yuuichi is hit with an invisible force that pushes him to his knees. The world around him gets distorted until the silhouette of a young girl wearing bunny ears appears in front of him. At first Yuuichi thinks it’s the demon, but when he sees that this girl is actually Mai, the world around him changes into a wheat field. He sees the scene change to Mai talking to her mother about going to a zoo, and sometime later, Mai brought in a large snowball that her mother proceeded to make into a snow rabbit. However, her mother’s health continued to deteriorate until one day Mai’s mother suggested they go to the zoo. They didn’t get far from the hospital when Mai’s mother fell to her knees and needed to rest. She inadvertently fell asleep, but Mai woke her only after making her own zoo out of snow rabbits. Although seeing this made Mai’s mother cry in happiness, it didn’t help her condition. When her mother eventually fell unconscious, Mai had prayed for her mother to get better while holding her hand. Miraculously, her mother got better the next morning.
Mai had a power to heal that got shown to world through a television program, but this also drew a lot of negative attention that forced them to move. A voice had told Mai that someone strong would come who could accept her and her power. This person was a young Yuuichi, and the two kids ended up playing together all the time. During a game of hide and seek in the wheat fields, Yuuichi had noticed that Mai was so small that he couldn’t see her. As a result, he went out and got her bunny ears so that he could find her easier. When she showed him her powers and explained that it was the reason she couldn’t live in her old town, Yuuichi pointed out that it healed her mother, and he felt that someday, she’ll like it. At the end of the summer, Yuuichi told Mai over the phone that he had to go home. A desperate Mai had claimed that she wanted him to come help her protect the fields from demons. She had said that the demons were really there, but Yuuichi never came and the bulldozers started building a school there. This is the school they are in now – the school where Yuuichi met Mai again all these years later.
Yuuichi manages to find Mai in one of the classrooms, but she tells him to leave because she can’t protect him as she is now. He, however, realizes now that there never were any demons because Mai created them from her power. This is why she got hurt each time she defeated one. Her power had been trying to tell him something, and he only understood after there was only one demon left. When she was young, she had made up a lie about demons coming because she didn’t want to lose her friend, and she tried to believe this lie. He knows now that this friend was actually himself since the two of them had met a long time ago. Mai thinks that that boy ran away from her because he was afraid, but Yuuichi explains again that he had to go home because it was the end of summer vacation. However, he did come again the next year to that wheat field, and he didn’t see her. Yuuichi then pulls out the bunny ears that Nayuki gave him and places them on Mai’s head, saying that starting today, she’ll return to being the Mai she was back then. If she accepts her own power, the fighting will end – that’s what the demon was trying to tell him.
Yuuichi then tries to get Mai to smile and tells her that she’s seen a long dream. He feels that she doesn’t have to fight any more and can cast aside her sword, but Mai refuses because she believes that doing so would make her weak and she would trouble Yuuichi and Sayuri. Yuuichi doesn’t care about this and reminds her that he and Sayuri love her. Remembering all the times she had with him, a teary-eyed Mai thanks Yuuichi and then turns the sword to stab her own chest. Not wanting Mai to die, Yuuichi starts crying, but he stops when a voice calls out to him and he finds himself in that wheat field again facing the young Mai. He apologizes to her for coming back so late, but she’s content with the fact that he came. When she tries to make sure that he won’t be going anywhere this time, Yuuichi says that he won’t since they’re friends. After he promises to be her friend and not to be afraid of her, he notices that Mai’s wound closed up. The young Mai says that she can go back now and that Mai will accept her now – she is a fragment of Mai’s power. However, she wants him to call her Hope.
Back in the classroom with the morning light pouring through the window, Mai starts to move a little in Yuuichi’s arms. Urging her to get up, Yuuichi tells Mai that it’s time she woke up from her dream.
Wow, this episode was amazing in every single way. Mai’s story is sad enough that I almost got teary eyed, but not quite. Maybe I would have if Mai had actually died, but fortunately she didn’t. Actually, I felt that the really moving moment was when Mai showed her dying mother all the snow bunnies that she made. The animation level this episode was also incredible. Never mind all the flashy effects from battling against the demons, I thought it was pretty cool seeing them animate a time lapse like the one in this episode. And of course, they seemed to use all the right background songs at all the right places.
Although I expressed similar sentiments in the write-up of an earlier episode, but I have to say again that things make so much more sense once the entire arc finishes completely. I now finally understand what the demons are, why Mai was protecting the school, and why the demons were after Yuuichi. In a way, this type of storytelling is very engaging and addicting because you’re always left questioning what’s going on until the end.
Fortunately, there’s still Shiori’s, Nayuki’s, and Ayu’s stories left with 11 more episodes to go. Given that Nayuki and Ayu would be last, Shiori’s story would logically be next, and that’s what the preview seems to indicate too.