Last week put one of the relationships in the tangled web that is Ano Natsu de Matteru almost literally to bed, but what of the fallout from this amongst the rest of the gang?
First and foremost, it's hardly surprising to find Kanna bawling her eyes out at every opportunity after confronting Ichika, but it's the otherwise cheerful Tetsurou who is arguably the one feeling the pain the most from seeing the girl he loves heart-broken yet knowing that her setback offers little room for him in her life in Kaito's stead. Besides which, what of Mio, who in turn has to watch Tetsurou's heartache from a distance?
Surprisingly, it's Mio who perhaps proves to be the strongest individual of the group - confronting Tetsurou with her feelings once again and imploring him to do likewise with Kanna. It's something that he duly does despite the bad timing of it all, and who else is there to pick up the pieces in the aftermath? Mio, of course. If nothing else, this chain of confessions is at least pushed onwards by Tetsurou's bravery, in turn prompting Kanna to race to tell Kaito her feelings despite knowing it's all in vain. With everything now in the open, it's business as usual for our group of friends (and one couple), although it seems like that new couple is about to receive an unexpected visitor.
To be honest, I simply don't know what to say about this week's instalment of Ano Natsu de Matteru - it's an episode that I felt rather than watched as it yanked my heart-strings, prodded my memories and made me take in every line of dialogue, movement and expression with my gut. For all of its melancholy and heartfelt suffering, there was really something beautiful underneath it all - the strength of mind that comes from unrequited love, and the confidence to accept your feelings and share them even in the face of guaranteed rejection. Despite those rejections... perhaps even because of them... the actions of all of the characters here are something to be aspired to - not for this series the usual menu of unspoken words, misunderstandings and bundled confessions of your typical anime show. This is the real deal; tears, raised voices, defeat, pride - the whole shooting match. Just like real love, there were tears and smiles to be had from this episode - an enjoyable experience in retrospect despite some feelings of overwhelming sadness at the time. As my favourite episode of my favourite show of the winter season, this was a thing of absolute beauty.