|Episode:||4: Early Summer: Even All the Smiles in the World Wouldn't be Enough - BITTER SWEET RAIN|
|The girls are talking about "friendship and beyond", browsing Aki's middle school photo album. On one photo Aki looked particularly angry [image1], but she won't tell her friends what happened back then, and insists on going to the karaoke box instead. On their way through the rain they meet a boy taking photographs of flowers [image2]; Aki is surprised to meet him there. "Ueno - my ex-boyfriend", she explains to her friends later. Which brings back memories of the time when they had to make the middle school graduation album together and he fell in love with the rain, right when she was falling in love with him...
A few days later Aki meets Ueno in the park where he's watching the same flower bed through his camera lense - and shortly after, Ueno asks Aki to go out with him. They have a lot of fun together in the arcade [image3], and Aki teases Ueno: Back in the old days he was going out with his camera, wasn't he? But when Aki asks him about his girlfriend, Ueno replies: "I have none."
When the girls walk through the same park again, her friends notice that Aki looks spaced out. Later, Aki starts skipping classes... she visits the photographer's club at Ueno's school instead, only to learn that Ueno hasn't developed any photos for six months already! Aki meets Ueno on the roof of the school building and tells him the exact date when the flowers in the park will be blooming, but for Ueno [image4] this hobby is already a subject of the past.
More karaoke and night-life for Aki, but she can't forget Ueno and his condition. The next day, a sudden rain shower makes all the friends meet at the diner of Makoto's mother. But when Yoshihiko mentions some crazy photographer shooting pictures of flowers [image6] in the park despite the pouring rain, Aki runs out of the room head over heals... [image5]
|[2005-04-14, Devil Doll]:
Aki is the outgoing girl of the gang - and this is her story. Now we know a lot about five of the six friends.
I had to watch this episode a number of times to be sure which parts were the flashbacks - and I don't like this type of non-linear storytelling if it's so difficult to tell apart present and past (because of the blurry rain scenes). Other than that, I really like the story of this episode - sometimes it may just not be the right moment for certain things to happen.
No lead characters development in this episode, and it will take some time until the focus will return to them.