Currently in the transition between worlds, Rika accounts the previous storylines she has encountered. Like Keiichi showing Bonds that you don’t need steroids to do some serious damage with a baseball bat (or maybe it was roid rage after all). Shion throwing away any chance at a babysitting career. Rena showing off her enormous power level (not quite 9000). They may be her dear friends, they may be kind people, but they cannot escape the clutches of fate. Events will play out as they are meant to, the rules remain the same.
Rika wakes up on some dirt path with Hanyuu next to her – we can see her now, albeit in a translucent ghost form. They’ve been sent back to before the Watanagashi Festival again. Keiichi, Satoko, Mion, and Rena (no Shion) rush to Rika’s side to check if she’s ok – Rika first asks Keiichi if he remembers anything about the night of the Watanagashi, to which he replies with a “how could I, this is my first year here!” I’m in despair!!!
That night, Rika assumes her typical position at the base of the fridge, but this time we can see Hanyuu sitting next to her. Rika eats some spicy pickles (I think) and Hanyuu goes ballistic – somehow most of Horie Yui’s roles involve a huge weakness to spicy things. At least this shows us that the two are not only spiritually connected, but have some sort of physical connection as well.
The next morning we start by visiting Satoko at the clinic, where a smoking hot nurse Takano and Irie-sensei are treating her. Rika and Irie talk about Satoko’s odd condition, while Takano takes Satoko to an isolated room and does some of those ink blot tests on her.
Afterwards, the two girls head over to the game shop, where there’s some special event going on. K1, Mion, and Rena rendezvous up with them and they head inside. The game is supposed to be the typical Karuta where they draw cards, but at Keiichi’s request, gets changed into none other than Kiki Ippatsu. The game kicks off and goes well, but Mion cuts it short by leaving for her job. How about the doll that Keiichi wins?
Why, he gives it to Mion. Rika thinks back to the progression of events in a previous world where Keiichi had given the doll to Rena, eventually leading to her psychological imbalance and the death of everyone…
Could this world be different? Faced with a new hope, Rika marches forward with optimism.
The constant feeling of inevitability of the first arc invades the first portions of this episode, with Rika continuously naming events as they happen. And yet, the Keiichi of this new world seems different. More confident. More thoughtful. More reliable. Could it be the experiences of the previous worlds building up unconsciously in his mind? Rika’s hope stems from Keiichi’s changed character – every move he makes seems to divert from the established paths, every decision leading away from the catastrophe that all the other worlds eventually arrived at.
Still, I’m sure the world won’t be that kind to ol’ Rika – there’s bound to be some twist that happens down the line that totally screws everything up again. However, doesn’t the twist seem to be coming later and later now? It’s like when you’re wringing out a wet cloth – you start at the top, and work your way down, until you’ve chased all the loose water droplets out. Maybe Keiichi’s unconscious memories will eventually surface, and put an end to this never ending cycle.
So what is Hanyuu’s role in all of this? It’s not yet clear – if anything, it seems to give Rika someone to talk to. If I had to go through hell, it’d sure be easier if I had a friend to go through with me.