After his mis-steps with regard to Ritsuko last episode, it isn't exactly a surprise to see Kaoru well and truly in the doghouse with her as this fifth instalment of Kids on the Slope begins - even with Sentarou's constant prodding and interfering, Ritsuko simply refuses to talk to Kaoru under any circumstances.
Oddly, it's actually an impromptu play session with one of Sentarou's siblings that finally opens the door to discussion between Ritsuko and Kaoru, with the former admitting that she can't stay mad at the latter, but at the same time asserting to him that she likes someone else. Of course, to a lovesick teenager her forgiveness for his actions are obliterated by her rejection of him, and thus he hides himself away or blanks her at every given opportunity in response as he seeks his own depressing solitude instead.
It isn't all bad news for our protagonist however, as he's handed a letter by his father - a letter containing the address in Tokyo of his errant mother who he hasn't seen since childhood. With his father giving Kaoru an open opportunity to visit her, he ultimately decides to do just that, although he unwittingly ends up with Sentarou in tow, much to his chagrin. Ultimately however, the two have quite the little adventure together before finally meeting Kaoru's mother - a sedate but ultimately emotional reunion which heals the wounds caused by Kaoru's rejection, if nothing else. But what of the missing Jun, the love triangle involving himself, Sentarou and Yurika?
Despite having a lot to cover in this week's episode, this week's Kids on the Slope managed to carry it all off pretty admirably - Kaoru's selfish, "wounded animal" behaviour in light of Ritsuko's rejection is pretty much a perfect example of the kind of realistic character traits that are easy to empathise with in this series, lending that sheen of believability that supports the series throughout. This was carried through in Kaoru's meeting with his mother, which was heart-achingly touching to watch at times and again felt very authentic in its depiction, Sentarou's tagging along for the ride perhaps not withstanding. Overall then, another beautiful blend of drama, romance and humour wrapped in expertly as a coming of age tale that continues to be simply unmissable as amongst the best this spring has to offer.