Damn, the start of this episode was brutal. The dramatic after credits scene from the previous episode, but now from the perspective of Hina. We’re even given the wide screen bars for that added element of dramatic movie flare. Though we don’t yet know the details, we can already tell something terrible has happened from the color, the camera work, and the sound of the scene. There’s a darkish red hue cast over the neighborhood from a foreboding sunset as we follow Hina, her footsteps gently playing over the ambience of wind and crows. The camera commits to showing us Hina in bits and pieces, never a whole figure—her pigtails swaying back and forth, her legs stopped before the front door, the striking image of her mismatched shoes taken from the first-person perspective of her looking down, and finally, the gut-wrenching close-up of Hina’s face in tears.
It’s interesting that she says “Rei” first, before whimpering her older sister’s name next, but I don’t see any meaning to be inferred from it just yet. We take the next half of the episode to show what happened: A story of childhood bullying where Hina becomes the courageous, albeit late, savior. As it turns out, a childhood friend of Hina’s was being bullied by a similar, if not same, group of students that made outcast of the girl back in elementary school. Hina reached a hand out to her back then, and tried to do the same once again. It didn’t work, as even their teacher took the path of least resistance—becoming a bystander.
All of Hina’s fellow students do the same. Doing the right would mean admitting there’s a problem, thus breaking the flow of everyday life. Having her endure the suffering is just the poorly conceived “best” option. So eventually, the girl transfers out, and before doing so, tells Hina that she’s afraid she’ll just be bullied there as well. Later, during gym class, Hina overhears one of the bullies talking about the girl who transferred, acting playfully unaware of the reason she left as she snickers with her in-group. Music kicks in to the scene once Hina jumps her. I must say, I really loved this approach. I was slightly worried they’d go for a more hackneyed emotional outburst where Hina goes into a loud, painful monologue explaining to these characters what everyone already knows, but may refuse to admit. Instead, the show went with the simpler, and in my opinion, better route. Why use a lot of words when a little violence will suffice?
It was nice to show this bit of drama in this otherwise unrelentingly cheerful family. Most of its importance, however, can be seen in what Rei derives from it. Comparing this to what Rei experienced as a child, Rei, I think, begins to realize his coping mechanism was nowhere near as ideal as the new path Hina has carved out. Hina declares to him, with tears in her eyes, that she knows what she did was right—or not wrong, depending on how you want to phrase it. Rei’s epiphany ensues, though that realization still remains a tad unclear. One thing that is clear, though, is that Hina is now seen as a lifesaver through Rei’s eyes.
The episode switches back in forth in perspective, hearing the inner thoughts of Hina in the beginning, then Rei as he hears out her story and follows her when she runs out, then back to Hina for a trip with Rei to the library. Here, he looks up the type of bush and insect he came upon the other day. I suppose it’s some sort of metaphor that I still don’t really get, so perhaps it’s a cultural thing? Back to Rei for the final part of the episode, we return home to hear what grandpa’s thoughts are on the whole ideal. While it may look bad for a brief second, he quickly commends her for doing the right thing. It’s a really nice moment, as a nice elderly man’s approval just seems to make everything better.
And that’s it. Hina’s a good girl and Rei probably learned something incredibly important. We’ll see how this affects him moving forward. Until then, thanks for reading.