「みみかき 迷子 打ち上げ花火」 (Mimikaki / Maigo / Uchiage Hanabi)
“Ear Cleaning, Lost Child, Fireworks”
With the school year about to kick off, Sunohara-sou gives the summer a proper send-off with the cast taking a trip to their local summer festival. The show is able to check off the essential festival must-sees from prize games and masks to the wide assortment of festival foods to confessions by the fireworks. It makes a great effort to build up a great festival atmosphere all the while the events of the episode unfold. The other side characters aren’t given as much to work with, but in their place, Aki finds himself continuing to build up the courage to express how he feels about Ayaka and Nana.
The last leg of the summer gives Aki a good opportunity to bond with Ayaka. With Nana as his wingman, Aki experienced getting his ears cleaned for the first time by Ayaka, something that she has quite a lot of experience doing with the other residents if Yuri’s photo gallery has anything to say about it. Ear cleaning is far more niche in interest despite it getting Aki to fall asleep on her lap, but it could be somebody’s thing. While walking side-by-side at the festival might be just what Aki needs to say what he wants to say, he’s not exactly able to get the message across whenever he’s feeling too smothered for comfort, resulting in him running off before she finds him. Although she’s still far more comfortable with coddling Aki and scolding him from running away, at the end of the day, Aki changed his mind quickly in how he missed Ayaka after running off.
A harder feeling for Aki to grapple with, however, is Nana’s departure. Throughout the episode, there is an inkling she was going to be heading out soon, but she fully heads out of the estate by the end of the episode. Despite mentioning that she’d continue to pop on over and visit on days off, Aki still has a lingering attachment to her as she’s made a larger impression on him as a sister figure and someone he could be potentially interested in. With how much fun she was to have around by teasing Aki, trying to keep her shotacon friends away from him, play video games with him, and helping him learn the festival games, Nana’s presence in Aki’s summer made a more positive impact on how he carried himself, and gave him enough gumption to come outside to tell her that he wants to continue playing games and learn to get better so that he can play with her again. There are plenty of opportunities with Nana’s off-days being regulated towards visiting everyone at the caretaker’s house, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the show could possibly handle some more introspection within its future episodes as Aki aims to overcome his feelings of inadequacy and open up to those around him.