This episode begins with Ichigo taking a train back home and thinking to herself that she’s made all her friends hate her, Vanilla is following her but staying hidden. When Ichigo makes it home she tells herself that she’s got to put on a happy face for her family. Back at the school, Rumi tells the princes that she can’t find Ichigo, and even her luggage is missing. The princes surmise that Ichigo was used to being ripped by Kashino but getting ripped by Andou and Hanabusa must have been shocking.
Back at home, Ichigo is getting treated quite well by her family and even teased by her sister about gaining weight, Ichigo lies telling them that winter break is really early. Ichigo’s mother gets a phone call from the dorm supervisor requesting that Ichigo notify them earlier when she’s going to be absent. Ichigo comes clean and tells them she lied, and Ichigo’s mother figures out that she’s having troubles with her friends.
Ichigo comes clean about not being very skilled, and making too much of being complimented. Ichigo wonders if she’s going to quit the school for good. Her father is very enthustic about having his daughter home for good, but Ichigo’s mother is much more somber. The next day the family takes a visit uncle Hikaru who now runs the shop that Ichigo’s grandmother started.
When they get to the shop they find it closed, and Ichigo’s father wonders if the recession even hit here. Before long, Ichigo’s uncle shows up and they find out that the shop is only closed because he sold out of all his stock in just two hours. He tells them that he just got back from a delivery; he delivers to his customers that can’t make it to the shop. Ichigo asks about the strawberry patch out back, and her uncle tells her that wasn’t his thing so he let it go, poor Ichigo. Ichigo begins to have flashbacks to her time with her grandmother at the shop. Later, her uncle tells Ichigo that he heard she joined St. Marie academy, and he tells her that her skills will improve.
After a little bit of talking, Ichigo’s uncle tells them that he has to get ready to open the shop again, and that Ichigo and Na-chan can help him. Well, Ichigo’s mother says that it’s a great idea and says that she and her husband will take a walk. Ichigo’s uncle puts them to work on various prep tasks, and Ichigo soon discovers Vanilla. Ichigo and Vanilla say their apologies to each other, and they’re back on good terms.
Na-chan tells Ichigo that she seems to be very happy when making and talking about sweets, she shines. Well, after lots of hard work making all kinds of sweets, Ichigo’s uncle says its break time and they can eat all the sweets they want. When Ichigo digs into her uncle’s sweet tart she finds it very good but not like the one her grandmother made. Ichigo asks her uncle about the difference and he tells her that he tried to preserve the original taste but couldn’t figure out the recipe, so the tart is his original creation.
Her uncle hands Ichigo her grandmother’s recipe book and tells her that he never found the key, so he couldn’t read it. He gives Ichigo the recipe book as a gift saying that since he’s completed his own tart he’s sure his mother would be happier watching over Ichigo.
On their way home, Ichigo and Vanilla talk about the tart and Ichigo vows to make one for Vanilla someday. Ichigo tells her mother to stop at any station, and her mother says did she really think that they were headed home. When her mother stops the car Ichigo finds that they’re in front of the entrance to St. Academy, and she tells Ichigo it’s all right to feel depressed but just pick yourself up and more forward and keep repeating until your grow strong.
When Ichigo makes it to the front gate she finds the princes waiting for her, and everyone says their I’m apologies to one another, Ichigo finds out that Kashino was the one who submitted the fake absence notice for her. Well, that’s all for this episode.
Well, this episode was a pretty good example of a “recharge the batteries” episode typically found in this type of series. When young main characters are placed in an situation where they’re greatly outmatched in important skills and have to catch up rapidly sometimes the stress of finding out that just busting your ass isn’t good enough they have a temporary breakdown. When the character in question reaches that breaking point they usually flee back to where they’re most comfortable, home. When they arrive home, the character usually is able to relax and smell the coffee, unwind, get a little good advice from a parent, and rediscover what’s really important.
So, in this episode Ichigo was able to take comfort in the unconditional love of her family, and rediscover her dream of bringing happiness to others through sweets just like her grandmother did for her. I have to say that I really thought that the princes were too tough on Ichigo, for better or for worse, Ichigo is their teammate, and a team is only as strong as their weakest link. In the army when we got a new team member it was our job to bring up the new member’s skill level to our level, and if they’re giving it their all you help their motivation level through encouragement, you never say “wow, you really busted your ass, but you still suck”, you tell them “wow, good job, you’re really improving, but we’re going to make you even better than this with more practice”.
I found the next episode preview to be very interesting; anime writers sure do love themselves some Proust because the preview mentioned that the princes met for the first time at the school and ate Madeleine cookies together. Let me guess, they also had lime tea with those cookies?