With Sunohara absent from school, Tomoya and friends discuss what to do and how Mei wants to get her brother playing soccer again. Kyou and Tomoya don’t think the idea will work because of the type of people in their school’s soccer club, and Sunohara’s disappearance makes it that much harder to get him reinstated. Despite all the obstacles though, Mei decides to go to the soccer club to make the request, and Tomoya and Nagisa go with her. The soccer club president turns down their request, and when Mei tries to plead with him, the other members start to badmouth her brother. They think of Tomoya as the same as Sunohara, and although this pisses him off, Tomoya backs off because of Mei. He, Nagisa, and Mei then go to see Yukine, and she has him reveal what happened between Sunohara and the soccer club: back when Sunohara was a first year, he got into a fight with the soccer club upperclassmen who wanted absolute obedience from the underclassmen. Tomoya had met Sunohara for the first time in the faculty room after Tomoya had gotten into a fight elsewhere, and the two hit it off. In light of all this, Nagisa observes that the club members haven’t forgotten what happened, and Yukine wonders if Sunohara could play soccer happily even if he returned.
Yukine then decides to share the story of her own brother who had almost never come to school and got into a lot of fights. She used to think he was a scary person, but she now understands that he has a lot of good qualities and just has a hard time bringing them out. Tomoya remembers that Sanae had felt similarly about Sunohara. Yukine thinks that Sunohara also has a lot of good qualities, and she believes that even if it’s not with soccer, if given the chance, then he’ll go back to being the brother that Mei loves. When Mei asks, Yukine reveals that she now gets along with her brother very well. The following day, Sunohara shows up at school, so Tomoya confronts him on what he did the previous day and if he worried about what Mei was doing. Sunohara doesn’t seem to care since he knows that Mei was with Tomoya, and he claims that he doesn’t have time to be concerned about her because he’s so busy with Sanae. This pisses Tomoya off, so he tells Sunohara to go talk to the guys in the soccer club so that he can find out how much Mei is thinking about him. Before the two can get into a fight, they’re broken up by Kyou, Ryou, and Kotomi, and Tomoya ends up storming out.
Sunohara skips the rest of the classes that day, and after Tomoya tells Mei and Nagisa what happened, Mei decides to go see the soccer club again. She doesn’t want to bother Tomoya and Nagisa anymore with this, but Tomoya wants to come along, and he tells Nagisa to go home first because he doesn’t want her to get in trouble if a fight breaks out. Nagisa insists on coming as well, and she promises to run away with Mei in the case of a fight. They catch the soccer club in the middle of practice, and they once again ask the club president to reinstate Sunohara so that he can at least participate in their practices. The club president is resistant because he has nothing to gain from this, so Mei offers to help the club in any way she can. It’s only after Tomoya bows his head that the club president notes how Tomoya has changed and assigns them to pick up soccer balls that get kicked off the field. The soccer club initially keeps the three of them busy picking up balls, however it soon becomes clear that the members are intentionally working them ragged. One of the members even hits Mei with a soccer ball, but Mei insists that it was her fault and keeps working her hardest.
Afterward, despite all the hard work, the club president once again turns down their request because no one would want someone like Sunohara on the team. He also reveals that Sunohara knows what they’re doing and yet isn’t coming because he’s abandoned them. Mei starts crying from this and insists that her brother will come, and when Tomoya tries to stop the bullying, the other members of the club get in his way. Before Tomoya can do anything, Sunohara rushes in and kicks the soccer club president in the face. He starts beating everyone up for making Mei cry, and Tomoya joins him after leaving Mei to Nagisa. By the time it starts raining, the fight is over, and Tomoya and Sunohara lay bruised and battered on the soccer field. Tomoya calls Sunohara an idiot and no-good brother and tells him to apologize to Mei, but Sunohara sees this as picking a fight. When the two get back up, Tomoya punches Sunohara and blames him for what Mei went through. Tomoya tells Sunohara to think more about Mei since he’s her brother, but Sunohara claims that he did worry about her. He had simply felt that if she was with Tomoya, then it’d be okay. Sunohara had intended to stay hidden earlier, but it was because Tomoya was so careless that he had to show up – protecting Mei was supposed to be Tomoya’s role as her boyfriend.
The pair’s fighting is broken up by Nagisa and Mei, and seeing Nagisa there and Mei crying uncontrollably leads to Sunohara hugging his sister. The following day, Sunohara and Tomoya run into each other on the way to school, but to everyone’s surprise, they start laughing. Mei ends up going home with the desire to find a good friend, and sometime later, Tomoya takes Sunohara to meet Akio who Sunohara still thinks is Sanae’s father. Nagisa and Sanae come out of the bakery as Sunohara is asking Akio for his daughter, and Sunohara is subsequently shocked to find out that Akio is actually Sanae’s husband. As he laughs over all this, Tomoya remembers the first time he met Sunohara. Both of them had been bruised after their respective fights, and when he saw Sunohara’s face and blonde hair, Tomoya started laughing. It was the first time he had laughed like that since coming to the school, and he felt that he wanted to try to fool around with this guy. From that day on, Tomoya and Sunohara always hanged around each other and did things together, and even now, they’re laughing together.
Well, I wasn’t thrilled with the overall conclusion to the Sunohara/Mei arc, but it wasn’t bad either. Certainly Sunohara coming showing up to save his sister was a high point, but the soccer club scenes leading up to it were stupidly frustrating to watch, and the resolution was still rather predictable – the soccer club members act like jackasses, Sunohara finally protects Mei, and things eventually get worked out. The focus on Sunohara and Tomoya’s friendship is probably the best part and ended up trumping (for me at least) Sunohara and Mei’s relationship by closing out the arc in a much stronger way than it otherwise would have. It was also amusing to see Sunohara finally find out who Sanae was.
Now that this arc is over, it appears from the preview that we’ll go to Misae’s story next. I guess they’re going to be hitting all of the secondary character stories in AFTER STORY before getting around to Tomoya and Nagisa again. Maybe that means they’ll revisit Kyou and Ryou’s story since they got the short end of the stick back in the first series (and unlike Tomoyo, they didn’t get their own special).