Romance


      Well, this episode picks up with Sawako wondering if Chizu was able to give Ryuu his birthday gift. Later that night Chizu is laying in bed thinking about that very same thing when she grabs the gift and decides to head over to Ryuu’s to give him his gift. By the time Chizu arrives at Ryuu’s, Tooru has already left, and Ryuu and Chizu share some unkind words and Ryuu ends up telling Chizu to give up on his brother, and Chizu throws Ryuu’s gift at him.

       Later, at school, Sawako and Ayane both commiserate over their uselessness and their inability to be much of a help to Chizu in the current situation. Soon, Kazehaya joins Sawako and Ayane in a stairwell conversation over the whole Chizu/Ryuu/Tooru thing, and he sort of reassures them that Chizu should be alright since she has two friends that worry and care for her.

 

    When Chizu arrives in class, there’s a tension between her and Ryuu. Also, there’s a tension between Ayane, Sawako, and Chizu, but Ayane leaves Sawako a note saying to treat Chizu normally, and if she needs support they’ll be there if she needs to cry her eyes out.

        When lunch period begins, Kazehaya takes off with some of the boys leaving Ryuu and the three girls in the classroom. When Chizu takes off to buy some lunch Ryuu gets up and leaves a few seconds later leaving Ayane and Sawako to wonder if he went after Chizu. When Ryuu confronts Chizu in the stairwell he has to grab her arm to keep her from walking off. Chizu starts shouting at Ryuu drawing the attention of the other students including Sawako and Ayane. Chizu asks if Ryuu thought she needed to be rejected, yeah. Chizu tells Ryuu that she didn’t fall in love with Tooru to be disappointed and she runs off.

       Sawako and Ayane catch up with Chizu and Sawako starts balling and this leads to Chizu cutting loose. Chizu cuts loose with everything that happened, she lets it all out, and Ayane and Sawako are just kind of there for her. Chizu tells them of her anger at Ryuu, her frustration over Tooru, and that she’s most disappointed about how she threw Ryuu’s birthday gift in his face. Chizu ends up crying while Ayane and Sawako hold her, and on their way home Chizu says she feels a lot better and is ready to eat some cake. The episode ends with Ryuu placing a telephone call to his brother about Chizu.

       Well, in this episode Sawako seems to have learned another important lesson about friendship, that being, if you can’t directly help your friend, just be there for them.  Since the end of the last episode, and through most of this episode, Sawako has been agonizing about her inability to be any real help to Chizu even though Ayane tries to tell her there’s not much you can do.  Also, Kazehaya shows a remarkable amount of wisdom in this episode, and his words seem to really help Ayane and Sawako. But, it was also quite funny when he tells Sawako and Ayane that he would most likely be useless if he was in the same situation, sometimes there are no right words to help ease the pain.  In the end I guess it all worked out of the best with Sawako’s tears causing Chizu to let loose all her sadness and frustrations in the hallway. I think that Chizu letting loose of her emotions was very healthy and is the first step in her journey of coming to terms with her feelings and herself. Well, I’m looking forward to the next episode to see if Ryuu is going to manage to set something up between his older brother and Chizu that’ll help ease Chizu past this rough spot and lead to some emotional closure for her.

       This episode begins with Sawako leaving her house for her first sleepover, after saying goodbye to her parents she heads off to school. At school, we see Ryuu run into Chizu in the hall and he’s about to tell her something when she get pulled away by Ayane and Sawako. Before walking off, Ryuu tells Chizu to not stop by his house tomorrow or the next day, and Ayane wonders if Chizu made Ryuu angry.

       Once the girls get to Chizu’s place we see that she’s steaming because she wanted to borrow a game from Ryuu for their sleepover, and Ayane asks Chizu what she did to make him mad. After explaining how she booted him out the other night, Chizu wonders what she’s going to do because one of her banned days is Ryuu’s birthday. Chizu gets really upset about not being able to give Ryuu his birthday gift. Ayane suggests that they drop it off tonight, and if he gets angry, so be it.

       Over at Ryuu’s place, we see that Kazehaya, Ryuu, and four other guys are hanging out and joking around when Chizu, Ayane, and Sawako walks in on them.  Well, it turns out that the boys were holding a party to cheer up Jo after his confession “crash and burn”, and soon a little bit of kidding takes place about how the broken hearted Ayane and Jo should hookup. After joking around for a while everyone just hangs out and chats, and Sawako just sort of enjoys taking it all in.

       When Ryuu gets up to get more stuff Chizu takes the opportunity to follow him and try to give him his gift. Chizu asks Ryuu, “Are you angry with me”?  Ryuu tells her, “no, but I can even be hurt being sent out like that”. Chizu says she’s sorry and she says she’s ready to listen to anything he has to say to her.

        Well, just as Ryuu begins to talk, Tooru walks inside the door. Tooru sees Chizu and calls her Chii, and she rushes over and begins to hug him. Tooru got off work early and came home a day early. During the confusion of Tooru’s arrival, Chizu gets a big shock when a young woman walks in behind Tooru. His girlfriend, Chizu asks? No, it’s my fiancée. Chizu turns as white as a ghost and goes into shock.

        After a few seconds, Tooru formally introduces his fiancée, Haruka Katayama, to his younger brother Ryuu, and to the girl he’s always loved as his younger sister, Chizu. After Tooru and Haruka have said their hellos, Kazehaya suggests that it’s time to break this party up and head home. So, everyone says their goodbyes to Ryuu and heads home. As Chizu turns towards home with a forced smile on her face Sawako wonders what she’s thinking.

       Later, Ryuu thanks Shota for getting everyone to leave because he says if he would have intervened Chizu would have gotten even more flustered. Ryuu tells Shota that he would have been alright with Chizu getting angry with him, but he’s pretty sure she’s depressed now.  As, Kazehaya is ridding off he realizes that Ryuu really loves Chizu.

       Back at Chizu place, after four hours of playing cards, Ayane asks Chizu if she alright. Chizu says she’s OK even though it’s clear that she’s not really OK. Ayane tells Chizu there are other guys in the sea, but that really doesn’t seem to cheer her up. It’s getting really late (4:30) so the girls decide to call it a night and hit the sack.

      Sawako falls asleep thinking about what happened to Chizu and her unrequited love. The next morning Sawako sees Chizu getting dressed, she reaches for the mini-skirt but changes her mind and goes for her regular stuff, and Sawako is at a loss for words. After Chizu sees Ayane and Sawako off, Sawako is upset to the point of tears because she could offer no support to Chizu, but Ayane says she didn’t offer much real support either.

       When Chizu gets to Ryuu’s house she hears laughter coming from inside and sits on the stoop thinking that she’s not really their daughter, not really their little sister, and she’s just a neighborhood kid. Chizu sits there thinking back to all her childhood memories of her trying to get Tooru’s attention; he never got mad and only smiled. Chizu says there were always girls around Tooru but none of them ever lasted, so that’s why she felt that she would have been his wife someday. Chizu gets up and heads towards home thinking that she won’t be the one living the dream of being Tooru’s wife. Well, that’s all.

      Well, it wasn’t much of a surprise watching Chizu’s unrequited love come crashing down in flames around her. In this episode and the last episode Sawako was quite happy watching Chizu bask in the joy of her unrequited love but Sawako is also learning that love is tough. In this episode we saw Chizu at her most girly, normally a tomboy, we watch her worry about her style, her appearance, and we see there’s a really a shy girl buried underneath her tough exterior. Chizu’s upbeat and happy mood about seeing Tooru was perfectly contrasted by Ryuu’s dark and foreboding mood.  

       The way the last couple of relationships have been going at Sawako’s school reminds me of the Lady Gaga song, Bad Romance. Let’s see, Jo gets shot down in flames, Kurumi can’t get what she wants, Ayane gets treated like shit, Chizu as reality crush her, and Ryuu’s love is in love with his older brother.

      I really felt bad for both Chizu and Ryuu; Chizu for having reality smash her dream, and for Ryuu being in a no win situation. Anyway Ryuu could have played this situation he would have ended up with Chizu becoming depressed over Tooru’s upcoming marriage, or Chizu being pissed at him for not telling her that Tooru was in town. So, maybe, it was best that Chizu found out about Tooru in the way she did.

      If I could do anything to shake this series up it would be to start shipping some crazy relationships; Ayane/Jo, Kurumi/Ryuu, and Pin/Chizu since they’re both dense. Oh-well, I guess I have to wait for 52 episodes before anyone even holds hands or shares a real kiss.

         This episode begins in November with Chizu telling Sawako that she can’t wait of the New Year to arrive. Sawako tells herself that her feelings towards Kazehaya are advancing but Sawako also notices that others around her are having relationship problems. Sawako and Chizu notice that Ayane is having a problem with her boyfriend, he seems to be getting very possessive of Ayane by constantly calling her and demanding to know what she’s doing and whom she’s with. Well, Chizu asks why she’s going out with him. Ayane laments that he hit on me, and it’s always guys like him that seem the most mature in the beginning.

         Sawako also notices how alike Chizu and Ryuu are, how they even have the same aura, and she wonders if Chizu likes Ryuu.  Then the scene switches to Ryuu’s place where we hear Ryuu’s father tell Chizu that sometimes he wishes she was his daughter, and she wishes she could. Chizu casually walks in on Ryuu while he’s changing, and they hangout playing games and Chizu talks about Ryuu’s birthday. While they’re hanging out we see two things; firstly, that Ryuu has been attracted to Chizu since middle school, and secondly that Chizu gets all flushed and it’s not over Ryuu.

         The next day, after school, Chizu invites Sawako and Ayane to go shopping with her. Ayane begs off saying she has to see her boyfriend right away, so Sawako and Chizu head off to shop for Ryuu’s birthday gift. As Chizu and Sawako are leaving the school grounds they see one of Kazehaya’s friends (Jo) chase after a girl and confess to her only to be rejected in a humiliating way.

         While at the shopping center, Chizu picks out Ryuu’s gift, and the girls look at clothes. On their way home, Sawako sacks up and decides to ask Chizu if she likes anyone. Well, as Chizu tells Sawako about her unrequited love Sawako thinks its Ryuu she’s talking about but it turns out to be Ryuu’s older brother (Tooru). Chizu basically laughs off the idea of liking Ryuu in that way; she loves him like a brother and doesn’t think Ryuu knows she has the hots for his brother.

 

       Back at school, Chizu continues to show Sawako more pictures of mini-skirts wanting one by New Years. Well, Chizu drops Tooru’s name and New Years in front of Kazehaya and Ryuu causing an awkward silence.

       Then the relationship shit really hits the fan when Ayane walks into class with a bandage on her face.  Ayane tells them that she met with her boyfriend, told him her true feelings, told him she was dumping him, and he slapped her. She goes on to tell them that he told her stuff like I only have you, and she concludes that he didn’t even listen to her. She tells them it’s not like she wanted it to end this way, and Sawako thinks to herself that love is tough and comes with break ups.

        Later, Kazehaya and Ryuu talk about Chizu with Kazehaya asking Ryuu if he’s told Chizu. No, should I tell her. Yes. Then we switch scenes to the girls where Chizu says they’ll have a sleepover on Friday to help cheer up Ayane.

         That evening, Ryuu stops by Chizu’s place and enters her room, and Chizu is a little bothered when Ryuu enters her room in the same casual manner she entered his room. Ryuu sits next to her and moves in close for the confession when she hops away from him to stop him from seeing is birthday gift. Chizu then tells Ryuu to leave and hustles him out of the house leaving Ryuu to wonder WTF. As Ryuu is heading home we hear Sawako comment on how she never thought about love before, and that it must be difficult and this is because she’s fallen in love with Kazehaya. Well, that’s all for this brew of teen hormonal angst.

        Well, after resolving the Kazehaya/Sawako/Kurumi love triangle, and slowly moving Sawako’s and Kazehaya’s relationship forward, Kimi ni Todoke focuses its lens on Chizu and Ryuu. While Sawako’s and Kazehaya’s dance was one of shyness, longing glances and tentative touches, Chizu and Ryuu’s dance is more complicated and fraught with dangerous land mines.

       Chizu and Ryuu, childhood friends, as close as brother and sister, both sharing unrequited loves, Chizu loves Ryuu’s older brother and Ryuu loves Chizu. While both unrequited loves might be filled with equal longing, Chizu’s longing is for is a virtual stranger she hasn’t seen in two years, and she might find out that her love is for a shadow, a past image, a fondly remembered vision of a boy that’s now a man who might not still exist in the present. But, I feel that Ryuu’s unrequited love for Chizu is far more painful, his love sits right next to him in class, sits next to him on his bed, so close that he can feel the warmth of her body, smell her scent, so close that he can reach out and touch her hair. While Kazehaya advises Ryuu to come clean and confess his feelings to Chizu, it’s a dangerous approach that could backfire and drive Chizu away from him. I really liked how Ryuu decided to go for it and let the chips fall where they may but due to Chizu’s reaction to him almost seeing his birthday gift he was left even more confused than before, girls and women have that effect and it doesn’t get better with age.

       Also, Sawako continues to show slow but steady progress in her maturation into a normal teen aged girl. When the series began, Sawako never really noticed the subtle byplay occurring between boys and girls, but her newly awakened feelings for Kazehaya has made Sawako more aware of the world around her, and she discovers love is tough.

      This episode begins with school’s holiday starting and we watch Sawako pass her day by feeding the birds, going for a jog, picking up trash, and so forth. But, today is a special day because Ayane and Chizu are stopping by to hangout, so Sawako works on a homemade cake.

      When the doorbell rings, Sawako’s father answers the door and is a little put off by Chizu’s size and casual nature. He thinks Ayane is OK but she wears too much makeup, and has quite a few ear piercings. A few seconds later, Sawako gives Ayane and Chizu a proper introduction to her parents. After the introductions, Ayane gives Sawako’s parents some cake they brought with them and they head up to Sawako’s room.

      In Sawako’s room they share cake and coffee, and look over the pictures Ayane took at the party including some of Sawako’s and Kazehaya’s staircase moment. Ayane, not being one to beat around the bush tells Sawako to just confess her love to Kazehaya. Sawako is caught off guard and says she’s happy with things the way they are. But, Ayane tells Sawako that if she does that then they can go out as a couple. Sawako is still not convinced, and Chizu says another girl might step in and steal Kazehaya from Sawako. Eventually, the girls end up watching some horror flicks that Sawako rented.

      We switch scenes and see Kazehaya walking Maru when he runs into Ryuu near the river. As Maru and Ryuu are bonding, Kazehaya mentions all the messages Pin has been leaving on his phone. Kazehaya finally answers his phone and Pin says he needs to see Kazehaya and Sawako right now. It seems that Pin ran into Sawako at the video store, and Sawako warned Pin to take care of himself but he just ignored the advice and spent the night drinking and watching porno, and now he’s in bad shape. I think he wants Sawako to lift a curse that might have been placed on him. Ryuu tells Kazehaya that Chizu and Ayane are visiting Sawako, and doesn’t he want to see Sawako anyways.

      Back at Sawako’s place, Chizu comes downstairs and cleans up the plates and cups while talking with Sawako’s mom. She makes the observation about how Sawako inherited her features from both of her parents, and Sawako’s mom is now convinced that Ayane and Chizu are nice girls.

       Back in Sawako’s room, Ayane gets a phone call from Kazehaya about Pin, and Ayane hands the phone to Sawako. Well, everyone agrees to pay Pin a visit and see what’s up. Once they arrive at Pin’s apartment they find Pin looking like shit, and his apartment looking even worse.

       Well, Pin thinks that Sawako is going to use spiritual powers on him, but he’s just coming down with a bad cold. As Sawako begins to nurse Pin, Kazehaya gets jealous and nurses Pin. After Ayane puts Pin to sleep with a bedtime horror story, the kids clean up the Pin’s garbage dump apartment. While all this is going on Sawako admits to herself that she’s good at this and she likes to clean (hell, I wish my GF liked to clean my condo). As darkness falls, Pin wakes up feeling a lot better and sends the kids off. Before Sawako walks off, Pin pulls her aside and tells her that he knows Kazehaya’s and Ryuu’s weak spots, and he also whispers something into Sawako’s ear about Kazehaya.

       Once they reach the point where Sawako has to split off Chizu tells Kazehaya it’s dangerous so he should walk Sawako home even though Sawako’s says she won’t scare anyone. As Kazehaya, Maru, and Sawako walk quietly down the road, Sawako wants to thank him but can’t find the words. So, Sawako does what Pin told her to do, she grabs Kazehaya’s arm stopping him and she stands there with her eyes closed. Kazehaya slowly decides to take this as an invitation and moves in for a kiss, and just as he has her lips in range Sawako opens her eyes and jumps back. When Kazehaya finds out that Pin set this up, he gets angry and tells Sawako that if she does that again, he doesn’t know what will happen.

       As Sawako and Kazehaya continue their walk in silence, Sawako thinks to herself that she wants to be by his side, and Kazehaya asks Sawako to not look at him for awhile. The episode closes with Sawako thinking that that someday the day will come when she’ll want to tell Kazehaya her feelings. Well, that’s all folks.

      Well, basically we have another hanging with the friends’ episode with the only difference being that the girls hung out at Sawako’s house. At least we learned a few things about Sawako’s parents, number one being that Sawako’s father is much more traditional about how he expects girls to behave, and the second being that Sawako’s mom is more easy going and doesn’t judge on appearances.

      It was very funny watching Chizu unravel the secret of Sawako’s looks; it’s all about the genes, baby. I think the most interesting development of the whole episode is how everyone is working hard towards hooking up/advancing Sawako’s and Kazehaya’s budding relationship. Ayane tells Sawako to confess so they can start dating, Chizu tells Sawako to confess or maybe lose to another girl, Ryuu knows that Kazehaya wants to see Sawako, and even Pin in his own silly way almost got Kazehaya a taste of that sweet fruit.

       My only frustration with the progression thus far is Sawako’s inability to communicate her feelings to Kazehaya. Sawako’s come to the internal understanding that she loves Kazehaya, and wants to be near him, but she’s unable to even reach over and take his hand. I can understand Kazehaya frustration towards the end of the episode; he’s asked her out and basically confessed to her, and her response has been vague at best. Hell that young man needed to taste those lips or he’ll end up at Pin’s apartment with the two of them drowning their frustrations in booze and tissue paper.

       Well, this episode ended up being a recap episode that covered most of Sawako’s important moments and experiences. The only new stuff in this episode is the recap was narrated by Pin’s “little drunken men”. This leads me to ask, are the “little drunk men” real in the sense that they come from Pin’s mind making him much more aware of all the high school emo drama around him, or are they just a narrative tool?

        After Kurumi stops crying she gets angry because Sawako’s been crying along with her, and she demands to know the answer to all sort of questions. Did you tell him you liked him, did he tell you he liked you, are you going out, and so forth.

         Kurumi and Sawako, much to Kurumi’s annoyance, end up talking about Kazehaya’s good points. Even after Kurumi’s behavior, Sawako is happy because Kurumi has acknowledged her as a person, and she’s finally been able to talk with someone about her feelings for Kazehaya.

 

          Well, Kurumi says it’s all over, Kazehaya thinks she likes Pin, and she knows Kazehaya doesn’t have feelings for her. So, why should she care if she exposed or misunderstood? Sawako tries to tell Kurumi to not leave it like that, and she needs to tell Kazehaya. Kurumi basically tells Sawako she’s a fool if she believes that.

        Later, we see Kurumi having a flashback to middle school where we see how she became like she is. Lots of girls wanted to be around Kurumi because she was so cute and the girls felt that they’d be able to meet more guys that way. But, Kurumi’s incisive nature also hurt people around her because she wouldn’t say whether or not she liked a guy, so she ended up getting in the way of the other girls’ love interests. One day, after Kurumi’s overhears some of the girls talking bad behind her back then being nice to her face, she ends up crying in the classroom after school when Kazehaya walks in on her. After Kurumi initially says nothing is wrong Kazehaya leaves the classroom only to return to find Kurumi really bawling her eyes out and from that point on she felt that Kazehaya is the only person who really sees her for who she really is, and she vowed not to tell him what she feels until she knows he likes her.

           Well, Kurumi and Kazehaya run into each other after school and Kazehaya drops the I didn’t know you liked Pin on her, hell no. Kurumi quickly comes to understand that Sawako must have intervened because Kazehaya doesn’t know about her role in the rumors. She asks him about Sawako, what’s she like. She’s easily misunderstood but always truthful no matter the risk, and that’s why Ayane & Yano trust her, and I always believe her when she tells me something.

       Well, as Kazehaya is about to ride off, Kurumi takes Sawako’s advice and tells Kazehaya that she doesn’t like Pin and he’s the one she likes, the one she’s always liked, and she only thinks of him. Kazehaya stops his bike and rushes up to Kurumi and says he’s sorry but he already likes someone else and he can only think about her. She asks him if he’s glad she confessed to him; yes, thank you. Kurumi asks Kazehaya to call her by her first name just once. Kazehaya calls her Ume, and as she’s walking off she says that she miscalculated him, he has bad taste in picking girls, and he’ll never get a cuter one then her. Kazehaya asks were you always like this, and Kurumi just walks off smiling.

       Later, Sawako talks with Ayane and Yano about her feelings for Kazehaya, and about how Kurumi was the catalyst for Sawako coming to terms with her feelings for Kazehaya. The girls think that it’s going to get really interesting from now on.

       When Kurumi shows back up at school Pin sees her and tells her she’ll meet a guy her own age to fall in love with, and that a high school guy would be thinking about her all day long if she confessed to him. Later Kurumi talks to Sawako, Ayane, and Yano and tells Sawako that she’ll never give her blessing to her relationship with Kazehaya. Sawako asks if they’re friends, no way, we’re rivals. As Kurumi is walking off, Yano says that if Kurumi was like that from the beginning she would have liked her better.

        When the sports festival resumes, Sawako’s class loses all their remaining events, but they still end up finishing in a very respectable 6th place. Afterwards, Sawako gets invited to her very first after party. While everyone is having a great time at a karaoke club Sawako continues to talk about Kazehaya with Ayane and Chizu where she tells them that she loves him. When Sawako is taking a break, Kazehaya comes looking for Sawako so Ayane points him in the right direction.

Remember it’s the After Party, Sawako

Stay thirsty Sawako

        When Kazehaya finds Sawako it looks like she’s sleeping on the stairs, at first he calls her by her last name, then halleluiah, he calls to her using her first name. Sawako says yes and Kazehaya thinks she may be sleep talking, but Sawako leans over and puts her head on his shoulder, and thinks to herself that by the time he called me by my first name I was already in love. That’s all folks.

 

       This was a pretty sweet episode for several reasons. First of all, I found myself not hating Kurumi very much, and somewhat understanding how she turned out the way she did. It must have been quite a shock for Kurumi to find out that most of her friends in middle school were just using her for her looks to draw guys to them. But, Kurumi’s nature also contributed to the problem, she seemed like she was the type of girl who in an attempt to please everyone around her never wanted to make a decision, she’d never say yes or no about a guy so I can see why some on the other girls would be angry with her. You could also see that while Kurumi was very popular in school she never had any close friends; I noticed that while all the girls were friendly to her in school she never seemed to get invited to do anything with the other girls after school. I do agree with Yano that the more open and aggressive Kurumi is much more likeable. So I feel that Kurumi might still be as cute as a button, at least she a doll with some substance.

        Pin was very funny in this episode, in his attempt to be funny with Kurumi I think that he actually cheered her up in his own silly way; I’m sure that if you confessed to any high school boy they would be thinking about you all day, I guess that’s as good as it gets from Pin.

       I found it very nice that Kazehaya was finally able to call Sawako by her first name; it’s really funny how he can admit to Kurumi that he’s really got the hots for someone, but all he can manage is to say is “Sawako”. I can understand that he’s shy because Sawako is probably his first serious love/crush, but I find it a stretch that he’s such a nice guy that all he can manage is “Sawako”. When the love bug first hit me all I could think about was how I wanted to talk with her, look at her, touch her, be near her, and kiss her, and I did when the first opportunity arose, hormones always wins over shyness.

       For all of Sawako’s social immaturity and shyness I really found myself cheering with joy when she ended up being the one to make the first move, while Kazehaya finally managed to say “Sawako” it was Sawako who initiated the first skin to skin contact. Now, the ball is in Kazehaya’s court, come on and man up, and kiss her.

         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.

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