This episode begins in the dream world with the junk doll hoping that he and the girl will finish their craft before winter comes, he worries that if it gets too cold the girl will sleep and he will be unable to wake her until winter passes.
Back in the real world, Tomoya wakes up and goes to grab his school uniform until he realizes that he graduated. Later, Akio and Sanae congratulate Tomoya on his completing high school, they ask him if he wants to work for them for a while and Tomoya accepts. Nagisa condition is improving everyday, as Tomoya and Nagisa talk he tells he that he hopes she’ll be in the same class as Tomoyo and Yukine. As the days pass, Tomoya learns the ropes of running a bread shop, his days begin at 5am and they run into the evening.
Soon the day comes when Nagisa will start her first day of school and all Tomoya can do is wish he luck as she walks to school by herself. Tomoya worries about how Nagisa is doing in school and the Akio says all they can do is hope and worry for her, and Tomoya figures out that a lot of Sanae’s and Akio’s bickering is meant to keep Nagisa laughing and happy. As time passes, Tomoya finds out from Nagisa that she is having a hard time making new friends and getting enough members to continue the theater club, it seems that everyone knows that Nagisa is repeating her senior year for the third time, and in the end no one joins the theater club.
A few days later, Tomoya runs into Yoshino who is working at his electrical job, while talking with him Tomoya finds out that Yoshino is really busy because it’s so hard to get people to do that sort of work because it’s really tough work. Later that day, Tomoya is checking out ads for apartments when he runs into Kyou and Ryou who are returning from school, and they sit down and chat. Tomoya tells them about his wish to get an apartment, and Kyou asks him if he’s still a freeloading bum? He tells her yes but he wants to change, and Kyou say that if you act a result will follow. Kyou’s comment spurs Tomoya into action, he rushes back to where Yoshino is working and he asks him for a job.
That night Tomoya tells Nagisa and her family about his plan to move out and to take a new job, Tomoya tells them that he’s been pampered and it’s time to get going. He thanks them for caring for him all this time, and they seem happy for him getting his act together. later, Akio tells Tomoya that if he has any problems that he can come to him for advice because the real world can be tough. Akio says that Tomoya is starting to talk like a real man and Tomoya asks Akio if someday can he take Nagisa with him? After a long pause, Akio tells Tomoya that the decision will be Nagisa’s choice.
The next day, Akio and Nagisa help Tomoya move into the small apartment that Ryou had recommended to him. Akio leaves telling Nagisa to to be too late, as Nagisa making tea for him, Tomoya asks her if someday they’ll live together like this? Nagisa’s asks him what he just said and it seems that Tomoya is too shy to repeat it so he says that it wasn’t important. The next morning, Nagisa stops by to make sure that he’s up in time for his new job and she also brings him breakfast. As Tomoya is leaving for work Nagisa says that she’ll stop by and make dinner for him, Tomoya says that he doesn’t know when he’ll be home but Nagisa says that it doesn’t matter she’ll be waiting for him. At work Yoshino makes the comment that Tomoya is different, one year ago he was a kid, Tomoya asks him if he looks like an adult? Yoshino says no, Tomoya looks like a kid who struggling to become an adult, so Tomoya asks if he’s still a kid and Akio says that it’s very different thing.
Tomoya’s first day at work is a real ball buster, he has to learn many new tasks and he has to pay more attention to detail and safety than ever before, Tomoya thought he had endurance but after finishing the day most of his body is in pain. When he arrives home he finds Nagisa waiting for him with dinner ready but he can hardly interact with her even though he really tries because he’s truly exhausted. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Here begins the real heart of the ~After Story~, and this whole episode is about making choices, moving forward, and becoming an adult. For Tomoya his decision to move forward towards adulthood is brought on by him realizing that he has become stagnant, he sees the rest of the world moving forward with a purpose especially when he runs into Kyou and Ryou looking like stylish young adults. When Kyou asks Tomoya if he is still a bum he has to admit that he is still a bum but wants to change.
It was quite obvious from the events of this episode that Tomoya has been considering a transition to adulthood and maybe marriage, he even asks Akio if someday he can take Nagisa with him, and later in his apartment he even asks Nagisa if they could live together like this someday. We can clearly see that Tomoya’s mind is looking forward to the idea of marriage with Nagisa and starting a family, for a guy who never revealed many of his true feelings this episode is a major step forward.
I feel that Nagisa has a much tougher path to walk than Tomoya, she’s starting her senior year for the third time and this really upsets the Japanese cultural principle of the senpai/kohai relationship, while anime may make light of strength of the senpai/kohai in modern society, but it is still very strong in the Japanese educational and work system. So, Nagisa presence upsets the normal social order at school, Nagisa should be a second year college student and everybody knows it. So other than Tomoyo and Yukine, Nagisa will have a very hard time making new friends at school, she’ll be like a small outcast because in truth Nagisa is a young woman of 19 maybe almost 20 now, not a young schoolgirl.
So, I think that Nagisa’s parents are right about Nagisa needing to find her own happiness, if school only leads to pain and unhappiness for her then she needs to think about what would make her truly happy. I think that Nagisa has already made her choice, and she has decided that her path to happiness is being with Tomoya, she is almost like a wife to Tomoya now, cooking him breakfast and dinner and seeing him off to work and waiting for him when he gets home. I think that all the time she spends with Tomoya is refuge from all the pain and loneliness she is experiencing at school, she loves him and draws comfort from just being around Tomoya. The only thing that separates them for a young married couple is a wedding ring and sharing a futon, that’s all.
Well, that brings me to the title of my post “So, begins the first day of the rest of your life” . So many current anime end at the moment of high school graduation. But, there is life after high school, about 60-70 years of it, and with it comes all the pleasures and pain of an adult life, jobs, bills, love, sex, family, children, and a lifetime of trying to get it right. So, to Tomoya and Nagisa I say welcome to the rest of your life and may it be filled with love and happiness.