I think it's fair to say that Sawako is having a pretty good birthday so far, and as Kimi ni Todoke hits its penultimate episode surely it can only get better thanks to Yano and Yoshida's carefully engineered plans?
With Sawako left alone with Kazehaya, everything looks all set for the pair to get closer, but if there's one word to describe the first half of this episode it would be "awkward", with Kazehaya singularly failing to do anything right and simply wandering around rather sullenly with Sawako in tow. It takes a phone call (and a moment of utter hilarity) from Chizuru to at least somewhat bring him to his senses, and as the couple warm up thanks to some amazake, so the mood also warms up as the two actually start to converse.
From here on in, a similar one-word description of the second half of this episode would be "sweet", with Sawako and Kazehaya starting to have some (admittedly still slightly stilted) discussions which make for some good old-fashioned bonding between the two of them as they both begin to open up to one another.
While this episode is perhaps slower in its pacing than previous instalments, once again the entire scenario was given a sumptuous treatment - I've rarely seen an anime make such good use of simple silence to convey emotion, but this episode of Kimi ni Todoke manages to do it again here, while time is still made for some genuinely amusing comic relief away from Sawako and Kazehaya's "date". While the start of this episode is immensely frustrating on account of Kazehaya's clumsy reticence to so much as say a word, it feels oddly believable and brings both relief and a warm, fuzzy feeling once the two begin to communicate and get on with one another. Quite simply, it's adorable to watch, and I make no bones about getting all mushy over it myself. It's quite rare to see quite this level of clumsy yet elegant romance in anime, and to be honest I've been eating it up almost from the very start.