Phew* This episode had me worried for a moment there. Thankfully, the return of our cast’s usual shenanigans comes with a departure from the norm, and our water-covered friend’s absence ends up a welcome difference that emphasizes this week’s theme of “change.” In particular, there’s a major focus on Tomori and Otosaka, and it’s readily apparent that their interactions with one another and the events they’ve experienced together have changed them.
Looking back to last week, Tomori’s act of intervention was but one major step in that regard, and there’s much to be said about how much more open she seemed to be in general. The fact that she was willing and able to scream “such a turn off” at the whole class is a subtle departure from the rebukes she used to make (they used to only happen with members of the main cast exclusively or in the privacy of the Student Council Room), and her willingness to show Yusa’s new music video combines with her ZHIEND concert invite as two other things she wouldn’t have done earlier in the series. Her first real, genuine expression of gratitude to Otosaka at the end of this episode is yet another key development, and it’s a relief seeing her slowly rise up from the emotional armor she’s put up around herself.
In this sense, Otosaka’s development doesn’t end up as pronounced, but nevertheless, it’s important to note how much less of an ass he’s been since he changed schools. The loss of Ayumi exposed an emotional vulnerability that still remains, and it’s a testament to the person he’s become in how he’s not only willing to talk about it, but actually has friends to talk with. His decision to bring ZHIEND’s vocalist to Tomori’s brother is especially laudable, and it’s refreshing to see how he’s gone from abusing his powers for personal gain to someone who’s willing and wants to do something for someone in return. Him not even needing to use his power to do so is a demonstration of the person he is and can be, and it’s a relief seeing how he’s capable of genuine relationships with others.
That said, a discussion about this week’s episode wouldn’t be complete without talking about ZHIEND’s vocalist in Sala Shane, and her arrival comes off as a fated encounter in more ways than one. Not only does she help Otosaka realize how he’s changed, she makes him realize the feelings he has for Tomori, and awakens Tomori’s brother from his insanity to boot. In this way she turns out to be an important device for character development, but there’s certainly more than meets the eye here.
The fact that she “bartered her eyesight away” reeks of a potential relationship to the abilities our cast possess, and the notion of sacrifice rings as a cautionary tale, almost screaming that there’s a price to be paid in order to acquire something. What that something is remains to be seen—Ayumi?—and one wonders if their powers themselves aren’t already the equivalent of something gained that must be repaid. Interestingly enough, one could also argue that her rapid rise to celebrity status may just be a metaphor for the highs one could reach with the abilities our main cast possess, with the drawbacks an indication of possible repercussions from an overuse or over-reliance on their abilities.
Either way, she too ended up being a story of “change”—except that she’s someone who sought it out herself and had her wish granted with a major catch—and I suspect we’ll be seeing more of her in the weeks to come. The fact that our watery friend hasn’t shown up since Ayumi was killed also looms large as a potential plot point of some significance, and next week’s concert promises to be something that could very well lead to a major plot twist…