If it wasn’t apparent last in any of the previous episodes, which it really should have been, the bullying that Hina is going through has been weighing on her, pushing her down to the floor and making her feel like garbage. Her half-maintained stoicism becomes less convincing by the second, and it leaves a bitter feeling inside every time I watch it. But it isn’t hopeless. In this episode, we saw courage from both Rei and Hina as they face their problems in their own separate ways.
Rei, with Nikaidou on his mind, goes to fight in the last match of the Newcomer’s tournament. As we watch his match with Junkei, the other finalist, we see Rei’s anger and hatred come out in how he describes his opponents more passive playstyle, as a creature lurking in the shadows.
This is the case because it is the same playstyle that Junkei used against Nikaidou in the match where he fell ill. Much of that anger gets channeled into the match against him, in what feels a lot like revenge. However, as the match goes on and Rei gets more and more worked up, he remembers that Nikaidou would much rather see him win then get angry and lose for no reason.
Rei also realizes during the match that he has been acting fairly selfish up to this point, giving into what he thinks should be done as opposed to caring for the people around him. After thinking about both Nikaidou and Hina one last time, he goes on to win the match in what seems like a fairly easy manner.
The second half of the episode consists of a sort of reflection for Rei, and at the very end, a step forward. After finishing the match and talking to another player from the association about Shimada, Rei remembers that the day before Hina’s trip Hina said that her stomach wasn’t feeling good. Rei takes some medicine from the player he talked to and rushes to find Hina in Osaka.
The fact that Rei remembered where she would be at that time of the day on the schedule after having only seen it once is a real testament to how, despite the lackluster way he has been going about it, Rei does want to help Hina.
With a spring in his step, Rei rushes from train to train to get to Osaka and gets to the place it said on the schedule. He looks around for a while but can’t seem to find her. Seeing a couple of girls from her school triggers a hard realization for Rei: that Hina wouldn’t be with her class because her class hates her.
He quickly rushes down to the river, a spot he knows she likes and a spot where she can be alone, spots her almost instantly. Upon seeing Rei, Hina becomes confused not sure what to do except release all of the negative emotions she has in the form of tears.
It was one of the most satisfying emotional payoffs in the show yet.
A painful and yet simultaneously beautiful episode. What did you guys think? Did it break your heart? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for Reading and bye for now, Friendos!