Throughout Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season thus far, it seems as though the distance between Kazehaya and Kuronuma has been increasing almost as fast as time has been flying in-series, with this episode zipping forward again to take us to the end of mid-term exams and the beginning of preparations for that old anime stable, the culture festival.
With exam results proving to be impressive all-round for Sawako's classmates courtesy of her revision sessions, it perhaps isn't all that surprising that her "unique" charms are the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to deciding what the class should do for the school festival. Thus, before we know it almost the entire class has voted to hold "Sadako's Black Magic Cafe" - yes, that's right, a Sawako themed cafe which makes the most of all the rumours about her which are renowned throughout the school. This odd mix of persecution and popularity is certainly an improvement for our heroine however as she finally finds herself fully accepted into the fold.
Of course, all of this is little more than a distraction from the real issue of Shouta and Sawako's disintegrated relationship - with Yoshida in particular worried that her comments to Kazehaya are at least partly to blame she recruits Ryuu only semi-successfully to try and put things right with Kazehaya. Ironically, it's actually Pin of all people that does more to spur Kazehaya into action than anyone else thanks to the usual torrent of acerbic comments - the realisation that even this dolt of a teacher knows more about what's going on than he does is enough for him to go running off to find Sawako. Is he too late though? He could well be, with Kento continuing to lie (or rather, not tell the whole truth) and manipulate as his own end-game appears to be coming into sight.
Not for the first time with this show do I find myself suddenly realising just how heavily invested I am emotionally with its characters, finding myself moved almost to tears by Sawako's own devastating disappointment at the end of this episode - not bad going for a character who couldn't be much further from my "type" in terms of likeability. That aside, Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season continues to get just about everything right in terms of its characters, all the way from Yano and Yoshida's way of handling things through to Sawako's delight at being included as an integral part of the class even though it's still largely at the expense of poking fun at her reputation - I swear every class I was ever in at school had one person who managed to tread that fine, indiscernible line between popularity and ridicule. In terms of romantic drama, this episode certainly looks like it has everything nailed, leaving me to contemplate an entire week of having to wait for that intense cliffhanger to be resolved. Even if I were to try distancing myself from it, I fear Kimi ni Todoke will always know exactly how to push my emotional buttons and manipulate me into loving it.