There’s going to be a school play soon, and the girls are especially gung-ho about it since Aoi has been chosen to play the prince and Itsuki has been chosen to play the princess. The play that they’re going to put on is called “The Princess in the Tower,” but it is essentially a sad tale. The girls spend a few days just to make the costumes. A day or so before the play, Subaru winds up meeting with Minato again, and she wonders if him and the mysterious garden place are all just a dream.
Before heading home, Subaru finds that Itsuki is still at the school, so they both take a “drive” out into space together. In space, Itsuki reveals that she tries not to have any wishes or desires of her own, because of an incident in her past. In her childhood, she was a rather tomboyish and headstrong kid, who thought that she could do anything. This fearlessness caused her to have a bad fall, and her older brother was blamed for it. Itsuki blames herself for causing her brother and her family trouble.
Suddenly, there is news of another passing engine fragment. Subaru and Itsuki, with the others back on earth, attempt to reel in the fragment, but Itsuki tries too hard and sends them all flying into space; landing near Saturn. Unfortunately, the red-haired boy had followed along, and so the race is on to secure the fragment first. Due to some ingenuity from Itsuki, the girls manage to locate the fragment. And Itsuki learns to overcome her fears of being daring to secure it.
Back home, the girls go on with the play, which has a few changes made to it.
This was a pretty cute episode, with some nice character focus on Itsuki. While Itsuki doesn’t get characterized here as much as Hikaru did, it was still nice to see some of her history, and how she became the person she is now. It’s pretty understandable that a kid would get rather traumatized by an incident like that–she could have very well nearly died. But I think the bigger trauma was of her family being so upset about the incident. That made her realize that she isn’t invincible, but the downside was that it made her overly passive and unwilling to take risks. Fortunately, it seems that Itsuki has finally found a balance between the two extremes now.
Once again, Subaru meets with Minato for seemingly no reason. Well, I guess there is some sort of plot-importance this time, as it seems to set up the next episode where Subaru finally realizes just who Minato is. Interestingly, Minato is compared to the princess of the play in this episode. Since Minato’s garden reminds Subaru of the tower from the play, Subaru worries about Minato disappearing. I think it’s fairly obvious at this point that the series is trying to set up Subaru and Minato as THE couple. That’s what essentially happened in the original web shorts, although the ultimate fate of their relationship is left somewhat ambiguous. I do have to wonder, though–Subaru, how dense do you have to be to not put the two and two together? Can you really not recognize Minato just because he has a cape and horns?
Anyway, there was some really nice animation/imagery this episode. I really loved the fairy tale sequence. The story itself is sort of morbid, but there was some very interesting use of cloth and paper cutouts. The first half of this episode was almost sort of SHAFT-like due to the fairy tale sequence and Minato’s head tilting. Luckily, this series isn’t soul-crushingly depressing (and I honestly hope it stays that way). All the parallels between Itsuki and the princess of the play were a nice touch, albeit a bit forced.
Overall, this was a good episode. I can’t say much more than that. This episode doesn’t quite match the emotional impact of the last episode, but it still makes for a great watch.
Out of five: