On the day of the party, Ryuuji makes one more call to Minori to ask her to come and leaves a message. He then gets thrown a package from Taiga containing a suit that her father doesn’t want, and his mother gives him his grandfather’s watch to wear. Taiga gets all dressed up as well, and the two are soon off to the party. Once they’re there though, Ryuuji loses sight of Taiga because he starts manning the drink station. Much to his surprise, Taiga and Ami get on stage to perform a song together, and Taiga leaves the party soon after. Ryuuji doesn’t find out about this until Ami tells him that Taiga left to convince Minori to come and won’t be coming back to the party so that she can get ready for Santa. Since Ryuuji doesn’t understand why Taiga would do this, Ami suggests that there’s something Taiga doesn’t want to see, and she gets pissed off reminding Ryuuji of the warning she had given him about stopping playing house because he hadn’t been listening to her. Remembering what Taiga had told him about wanting to be part of the happiness during Christmas, Ryuuji decides to leave the party as well.
Taiga meanwhile returns to her own apartment after having told Minori that Ryuuji was waiting. All by herself, she knows that Santa doesn’t really exist, and she’s resigned to being alone because she doesn’t want to rely on anyone. She ends up falling asleep, but she’s awakened a short while later by a knocking on her bedroom window. It turns out to be a bear wearing Santa clothes, so she lets it in. When she asks if the bear is Santa and it nods yes, she laughs and shows it her Christmas tree. Taiga is extremely happy at this point and plays with the bear for a while, and she starts thinking that her dream came true. She knows, however, that it’s Ryuuji in the costume, and she thanks him as she takes off its head and reveals him inside. She then tells him that Minori should be heading to the party, and she thus urges him to go back. Although Ryuuji doesn’t want to leave her alone, Taiga insists that she’s fine and pushes him out the door, telling him that her present to him is getting Minori to the party.
After Ryuuji leaves, however, Taiga is surprised to find that she’s crying. She realizes that she had been relying on Ryuuji, but that’s over now because she believes that Ryuuji and Minori will end up together. That means that she won’t be able to be at his side any more, and Taiga deep down doesn’t want that. She ends up running after Ryuuji, but by the time she gets out of her apartment building, he’s long gone. That leaves Taiga crying his name out alone into the night sky, and unbeknownst to her, she’s seen by Minori. Though shocked, Minori doesn’t let Taiga know that she’s there and instead heads to school where she finds Ryuuji waiting. After the feelings she had seen from Taiga, Minori decides to tell Ryuuji that it’s better if she doesn’t see UFOs or ghosts like they had talked about, and she runs off before he can really respond. Realizing that he’s just been rejected, Ryuuji feels what he thinks is heartbreak and collapses.
ED: 「ホーリーナイト」 (Holy Night) by 釘宮理恵 and 喜多村英梨 (Kugimiya Rie and Kitamura Eri)
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼
The ED this week was the special song by Taiga and Ami that they performed during the party. It was a nice way to end the episode and felt a little more appropriate for the Christmas mood than Orange would have been.
It figures that the week after convincing us that the Ryuuji-as-a-father-to-Taiga dynamic was prevalent, they (well, the original author Takemiya Yuyuko I guess) threw us a curve ball by having Taiga maybe realizing that she really does love Ryuuji and can’t stand to be apart from him. I say “maybe” because it’s not clear if love is truly what it is or if she’s just going through the process of losing someone she relied on (who had gone as far as to dress up as Santa for her and show up just when she was feeling lonely). I mean, all the right hints are there that it is love, but she hasn’t come out and said it yet, and she likely won’t even when she finds out that Ryuuji and Minori didn’t become a couple – Taiga will probably be working despite her feelings to bring them together again.
In the grand scheme of things, this turn of events wasn’t all that surprising and maybe even a little predictable. At least, when I first read the general premise coming into the series, I was sure that this would be a story of a girl and a boy helping each other and developing feelings for each other in the process. The anime, however, succeeded in lulling me into thinking that it was going to be RyuujiXMinori and TaigaXYuusaku, with Ryuuji loving Taiga like a daughter, but then what I originally thought happened after all. Where this series goes now depends on how Ryuuji feels and who he ultimately pursues. Regardless of what he does though, after all this between Minori and Taiga, I’ve become more convinced that Ryuuji should just be with Ami and avoid the whole mess.