The day after Hiromi told him that Noe saw right through her, Shinichirou still doesn’t quite understand what she meant. At school, he finds a packet of red berries in his shoe locker, and there’s another one in his desk. A third is in the locker where he keeps his books, and when Nobuse picks it up, Shinichirou tries to keep his friend from seeing what’s inside, but he only succeeds in tackling Nobuse. Shinichirou thus has to tell Nobuse about how Noe’s been leaving these for him, and Nobuse suggests that it’s love. After class, Shinichirou wants to complain to Noe about all this, but she runs out of school and meets up with an older looking guy who has a motorcycle. Shinichirou is surprised to see this and finds himself sighing on his way to Aiko’s store. When he gets there, he walks in on Aiko feeding Nobuse like they’re a couple, but Aiko claims that she was just letting Nobuse taste the food she’s making. To show that it was nothing special, she offers to feed Shinichirou a bite too, however she accidentally drops it with her chopsticks after telling him to get closer so that she can reach him. Nobuse ends up eating it straight off the counter, and he declares that he’d eat something Aiko cooked even if it were dropped on the floor.
Shinichirou then tells Nobuse about Noe having a boyfriend already, and he thinks that she merely made him the replacement for Raigomaru. From this, Nobuse figures out that Noe had been trying to feed Shinichirou with all the red berries, and he kids Shinichirou about being a fed chicken. A little later, as Aiko and Shinichirou are headed to the community center together, she asks him about what happened with Hiromi. After he tells her about how Hiromi said that she wanted to be Noe’s friend even though she didn’t really want to, Aiko comments on how she thinks that she understands why Hiromi did that. Aiko initially refuses to tell him the reason, but she eventually explains that people want to get closer to the person they love. When they’re unable to do that, they go with someone who’s already close to that person. As she says this, Aiko comes to a realization, and when Shinichirou tries to ask her about it, she kicks him in the leg and stomps off, saying that any girl who falls in love with a guy like him will have a lot of trouble.
Going by what Aiko stated, Shinichirou reasons that Hiromi was trying to get closer to someone by becoming Noe’s friend. He starts to think that this person is him, and this puts him in a really good mood. At home, he finds his mother giving Hiromi the task of delivering some sake even though it’s already so late. Since his mother insists on getting this done tonight, Shinichirou decides to do it himself, and Hiromi follows him. His father thinks that his mother should have just asked Shinichirou and questions why she asked Hiromi instead. He considers Hiromi to be one of their children now, but Shinichirou’s mother refuses to accept this. Shinichirou and Hiromi meanwhile take the path that passes by the waterfront, and he tells her that she doesn’t need to be try to be so nice with them because she’s not their employee or servant. He then recalls that they’ve gone down this road before back during a festival when they were young, and Hiromi had gotten separated from everyone and had cried. Hiromi claims not to remember, and when Shinichirou tries to turn to the topic to what she meant when she said that Noe saw through her, Hiromi just thanks him and reveals that she was scared of this road.
As it turns out, all those years ago, a young Hiromi had been by herself and had thought that Shinichirou had left her behind. He had jumped out at her from inside a patch of bamboo and had laughed at her, but after seeing her crying and missing a shoe, he felt guilty and decided to go find it. Hiromi, however, stopped him from leaving her side, and they instead walked hand-in-hand towards the festival, with him also taking off a shoe. These are all memories that Hiromi had decided to seal away when she moved in with Shinichirou’s family, but she can still recall the feeling of not wanting to be left behind. Not knowing that Hiromi actually does remember, Shinichirou meanwhile decides that he made progress just by walking with her. When he gets home, he begins drawing a story about himself reaching out to catch her and seeing a red snow falling. The snow turns out to be red berries though, and Shinichirou realizes they taste bad after he tries to eat one. He then notices a white chicken jumping around, and it is at that point that he wakes from his dream after having fallen asleep while drawing at his desk.
At school, Shinichirou is alerted to the fact that there’s a trail of red berries leading out from his classroom. He follows it all the way outside to the tree that Noe likes to climb and tells her that he doesn’t need those berries, but she feels that it’s not for him to decide. Shinichirou then suggests that she shouldn’t be involved with him because she already has a boyfriend, and he walks away angrily, ignoring Noe asking to wait because she can’t get down from the tree. Since Shinichirou tells Noe to get down on her own, Noe unexpectedly does what he says and jumps. When Shinichirou runs back to check on her, she makes him carry her on his back. Noe ends up directing him towards the gymnasium where their boys’ basketball team is currently playing the team from a rival school, and everyone is shocked to see Shinichirou carrying her. That attention doesn’t last long though, because the player of the rival school with the number 4 on his jersey makes an impressive fadeaway shot. Shinichirou recognizes this guy as the same person that Noe had been with before, but he’s surprised to hear her call out to him as her brother.
After the game, Shinichirou tells Nobuse that Noe having a boyfriend or not has nothing to do with him, but Nobuse observes that Shinichirou is relieved. Nobuse also suggests that Shinichirou come up with an explanation for why he was carrying Noe because Hiromi saw them and will misunderstand. Shinichirou tries to think up something, but as he’s walking around school, he accidentally overhears Hiromi talking to her friend about how she actually likes the number 4 boy from the rival school. What makes it even more awkward is that Hiromi runs into Shinichirou shortly after saying this, and she realizes that he might have heard what she said.
Well, I finally got around to watching this, and I have to say that I regret not doing so earlier. I wrote previously that I likely wouldn’t follow this in favor of blogging Shigofumi instead, but after seeing this episode, I don’t think I can ignore this either. The first episode was okay and the second one was a little better, but this third episode was what really grabbed my attention. There’s just so much stuff going on in the story, whether it’s from Aiko’s angle or about Shinichirou’s mother not accepting Hiromi or about Hiromi appearing to lie (either consciously or to herself) about liking Noe’s brother and the great cliffhanger ending of running into him right afterwards. It’s not clear whether Hiromi realizes that it’s Noe’s brother either (has someone tried drawing a relationship chart yet?). Add to all that a layer of consistently good animation and a really superb soundtrack, and it’s safe to say that true tears is now living up to the potential that I originally thought it had.
The only question now is to figure out how to balance this with Shigofumi on Saturdays since I really want to continue both. I think I’m probably going to have to drop something else to free up time elsewhere…