This episode can easily be split into two parts. The first part focuses on Machi, and we finally get some character development for her. While Kakeru gave us some brief insight into their family dynamics, this episode gives us the opportunity to see what kind of relationship Machi has with her mother. We find out its thanks to Machi’s mother pushing her to succeed and be better than Kakeru that turned her into the void and empty shell that she now feels that she is.
But among this, we also see insight into Machi’s impressions of Yuki. This really explains her comments in recent episodes about how she feels that he isn’t a prince. But in this first half, we get a great scene between Machi and Yuki… and this scene shows Machi actually expressing some emotion, thanks to something that Yuki does. It was great to see Machi being more than just the quiet and moody girl that she’s been portrayed as up to this point, and I think this will mark the beginning of Yuki helping to bring Machi out of her shell.
The second half of the episode focuses on the Sohma’s annual New Year’s banquet. Yuki surprises Shigure when he says he’ll go to the banquet, albeit for a short time. This year, though, arrangements have been made for Tohru and Kyo to stay with Shisho. It turns out Rin is also there, and Rin isn’t entirely happy to see Tohru is there as well (since Shisho hadn’t said anything).
But the most important things happen at the actual banquet, with one of the most important scenes taking place between Akito and Yuki. Akito becomes enraged at something Yuki says, and causes a scene. Fortunately, Yuki isn’t badly hurt. But thanks to this injury, Yuki is able to talk with Hattori and apologize for the time that Hattori had to erase Yuki’s friends’ memories. I love Hattori’s reaction to this, and the interaction between these two characters. In the beginning, Yuki disliked Hattori and didn’t trust him, and it was nice to truly see that wall come down between them. The best line here was Hattori telling Yuki not to become like Ayame.
But during the scene with Akito and Yuki, we see Kureno actually getting involved and pulling Akito away from Yuki. The most important thing with Kureno, though, happens near the end when Momiji gives him a burned DVD of the play as “a gift from Tohru.” Written on the disc, it specifically instructs Kureno to watch it when he’s alone. So the seed has been planted for Kureno to see Uotani’s line in the play and whatever may result from that.
But it really hit me during the New Year’s banquet portion just how much time has been covered in the series up to this point. Yes, we saw the school aged characters move up a year in school, but even hearing that the new year was coming up really hit home the time span covered in the series up to this point. And then it hit me just how much some of these characters have really evolved during the time frame that’s been covered in the series up to this point.
I believe next week’s episode will be the last episode of Season 2, and I’m genuinely interested to see what kind of a note this season will end on.