Mai is thankfully able to resolve the scandal introduced at the tail-end of the last episode, so she and Sakuta can finally be together as girlfriend and boyfriend. Not long after this, Sakuta gets a mysterious letter from someone named “Shoko-san,” asking Sakuta to meet them at the beach the next day. Sakuta believes that this person is the one whom he had a crush on many years ago, rather than the “Shoko-chan” that Kaede is currently friends with. Sakuta resolves to meet this person (after getting Mai’s approval, of course), but is intercepted by one of Kaede’s old friends named Kotomi Kano.
Kotomi wanted to talk with Sakuta, mainly to check in on Kaede and also to tell Sakuta about how things have changed at school. After meeting with Kotomi, Sakuta decides to just go home without meeting the mysterious “Shoko-san,” although he leaves a message for them in the sand. Once he arrives home, Sakuta is surprised to find that Kaede has suddenly gained the motivation to try slowly venturing into the outside world again. She even manages to answer a phone call from Mai, which is a big step for her.
Day after day, Kaede gains the courage to step further and further into the outside world (with Sakuta’s support). One day, while Sakuta, Kaede, Mai, and Nodoka are picnicking by the sea, Kotomi unexpectedly appears. Kaede claims not to know Kotomi; which causes Sakuta to finally reveal Kaede’s secret to Mai: Kaede has apparently lost all of her memories after the events of her Puberty Syndrome.
We are jumping straight into Kaede’s arc with this episode; and it also appears that her arc will be the last one covered in this anime (or at least, in this season). I am incredibly excited to see just how her arc will end. Despite being so close to Sakuta (she’s his little sister) and appearing in basically every episode; she always felt the most mysterious to me. The symptoms of her Puberty Syndrome were only slightly touched upon during Mai’s arc, and it looks like we’ll finally be able to get the full backstory on her situation in the last few episodes of the series.
But beyond that, HAVE the effects of her Puberty Syndrome really been resolved? Sakuta finally reveals in this episode that Kaede not only suffered physical symptoms from her Puberty Syndrome, it also resulted in some kind of amnesia. I honestly wasn’t expecting this plot point. While it is terribly cliched, in this case her amnesia does at least explain a lot of Kaede’s weird behavior and her obsession with her brother. If you had no memory of the outside world, of course you’d be scared of it too. And if your big brother was the only person you knew or remembered in your (perceived) short lifespan, you’d cling onto that person too.
I’m sure there are people out there who aren’t that fond of Kaede, mostly because of her pretty apparent “crush” on her brother. And admittedly, that’s the part of Kaede’s character I do like the least. However, I really have to feel for her. It’s obvious she has severe PTSD, and displays PTSD-like symptoms. I also can’t imagine how horrible it must be to be afflicted with agoraphobia. Kaede is a hikikomori–but unlike far too many anime portrayals of these people (that glorify their lifestyle); Kaede’s current lifestyle is very obviously a negative one that she’s taken on to cope with her issues (and those caused by bullying). What I really like about this episode is that Kaede is shown to actually WANT to venture into the outside world of her own volition, because she is afraid of her world being restricted solely to her shared apartment with her brother. Seeing her finally be able to go on a little trip with Sakuta and her other newly-made friends was heartwarming.
My way-too-emotional feelings about an anime girl aside, this episode was a pretty pleasant one, which served as a nice breather after the dramatic end of Nodoka’s arc. Nothing much happened, but it was nice to see Sakuta, Kaede, and Mai acting like one big happy family. I will say though, that the animation quality got pretty bad in some places; as has been the case for all episodes of this series past Mai’s arc. I also found the weird sub-plot with Mai being forbidden from dating (by her agency) to be ultimately pointless. It got resolved so quickly and cleanly in this episode that it felt like a weak way of inserting minor drama between Sakuta and Mai… that ended up not mattering much in the end anyway. We also get some hints of what may potentially happen in Shoko’s arc, although we will likely not be seeing the resolution to that at the end of this season. (A movie has been confirmed for this series, that will cover Shoko’s story arc.)
Anyway, out of five for this episode, I give: