The holidays are finally over and all the students have returned to the school. The school’s cake grand prix is about 15 days away, so the princes tell Ichigo that she’ll have to undergo intensive training before the contest starts.

        Meanwhile, we see the school’s staff discussing how this year the number of middle school teams that have applied has skyrocketed. They discuss how the number is unmanageable given the allotted time, so one of the teachers suggests that they give a pliminary test to separate the teams that actually have a chance of winning from those who don’t.  As this is going on, the three princes begin Ichigo’s intensive training program, Kashino starts Ichigo off with physical fitness training; pushups, sit ups, and running. Then Andou continues Ichigo’s training on the science of cooking & baking, and Hanabusa teaches Ichigo French.

       Day after day Ichigo continues her basic training with all three of the boys pounding as much of their baking knowledge and skill into Ichigo as possible, and she’s showing signs of improvement.

 

        One night Ichigo decides to go to the kitchen by herself for some addition self-practice and she begins to melt down because she can’t seem to remember what she was just taught. All the sweet spirits show up to lend Ichigo their knowledge and help, but Ichigo is overwhelmed and tells them she’s not a genius like  President Tennouji and the others and they’re just wasting their time on her.

        Vanilla calls Ichigo over to her and tells her to have a look. When Ichigo looks where Vanilla is pointing she sees President Tennouji is also working late into the night. President Tennouji notices Ichigo and calls her over, and she asks Ichigo about her physical fitness training and tells her that developing good stamina is part of the job. Then she notices Ichigo’s worn out and bruised hands and tells her that she’s beginning to develop the hands of a first class patisserie. Tennouji goes on to tell Ichigo that it’s possible that they might meet in the finals, and she looks forward to the match. Later, Tennouji tells Honey that this year’s cake grand prix is going to be very interesting.

         Well, President Tennouji’s words and Ichigo seeing that even that best have to work hard rejuvenates Ichigo and she dedicates herself to training  even harder than before.  When the big day finally arrives, all the students are told about the pre-selection test, and no one is worried until they hear the terms of the test. All students will take an individual skill test, and if one student fails their entire team fails and will be eliminated from the competition. Ichigo’s is really nervous but the princes tell her that they’ve taught her enough skills that that she should easily pass any basic skills test, as long as she doesn’t do anything stupid.

 

        When Ichigo’s number is called she heads off into the unknown, and enters a room (the tasting room) that has a piece of cake sitting on a little plate. Ichigo wolfs the cake down and heads to the next room where she realizes how bad she screwed up. The next room has three sticks of butter on the table and a card asking which butter (A, B, or C) was used in the cake. Then Ichigo sees three doors each with having a letter on them that corresponds to a stick of butter, and she then understands that she made a stupid mistake when she just wolfed down the cake; she hadn’t bothered to use her tremendous natural sense of taste, and now she’s screwed. But, all of Ichigo’s training with the princes finally pays off; she’s able to remember all the baking basics they pounded into her and answers the question correctly. After Ichigo navigates the two next rooms involving milk and sugar she makes it to the final room of the test involving flour.

        Just as Ichigo is working out the final challenge, the school’s PA system tells her she only has one minute left to finish the test. As time is running out, Ichigo mixes water with the flour to test the firmness of the dough. Inside the “all correct” room, the princes nervously wonder if Ichigo will make it out in time. As the final countdown has commenced, Ichigo makes her choice and heads to that door hoping she is correct, and Ichigo has……Well, cliff hanger time, that’s all for this episode.

       Well, with this episode, I think Ichigo finally realizes how hard she’ll have to work to become a truly skilled Patisserie. In the beginning of the series we discovered that Ichigo was born with a tremendous sense of taste, and this ability has served Ichigo well throughout the series, until now. Ichigo being her normal rush forward without really thinking self rendered her natural talent useless. If Ichigo had saved her sample of cake she probably could have just sampled a little bit of the cake at each test station and quickly made it through the test but now she had to rely on knowledge earned through hard work rather than talent earned through grace.

       In Philip Pullman’s, His Dark Materials book trilogy one of the main characters, Lyra Belacqua has obtained the ability to read a device through grace and by the end of the series Lyra loses that ability.  Later, Lyra is told that she can regain that ability through hard work and sweat, but once she regains the ability her readings will be even better than before because she’ll have a full understanding of the task, and she’ll now have certainty and the skill will never leave her.

       So, when Ichigo’s god given talent fails her she was able to rely the knowledge that she earned through hard work and practice; Ichigo was able (I assume) to pass the test  using her brain rather than her intuition.

For further reading about the differences between innocence & experience, and skills obtained through natural grace and skill earned through hard work see, On the Marionette Theatre by Heinrich von Kleist, 1810.