|Episode:||16: One Step Forward|
|Taiga and Ryūji try to get Yūsaku to become the next student council president by telling students how Taiga will ruin everyone's high school life. Ryūji discovers that Yūsaku has feelings for Sumire, the student council president, and that she is going to be studying abroad in America soon, which explains Yūsaku's odd behavior. After encouragement from Sumire, Yūsaku becomes a candidate; Taiga drops out, leaving Yūsaku to become the student council president. He confesses his love to Sumire in front of everyone, but she does not respond to his feelings. Taiga becomes outraged at this, and attacks Sumire...|
|As spectacular this episode may be (Kitamura's surprising speech, Taiga's sudden outburst, Sumire's explanation), its highlight is one tiny little scene when everything appears to be over. Some girl has found Taiga's student book which contains a photograph of Taiga and Kitamura dancing at the school festival. She comments to her friends: "So she's really in love with him" (thus explaining Taiga's outrageous reaction to Sumire's rejection of Kiramura's confession).|
Minori is just a few yards away and can hear them. She freezes to ice. But the next blow to hit her is only seconds away. Ami takes the student book in order to return it to Taiga, and while walking past Minori she asks: "Have you stopped feeling guilty?" (The same Ami about whom Minori said just one episode earlier: "She probably knows a lot more than brats like us" and "She didn't say anything that wasn't true".)
[Devil Doll, 2010-08-08:]
So what about Minori's feelings at this point in time? In episode 9 Ryuuji asked Minori whether she has a boyfriend, and Minori not only responded "no" in a long, complicated way, she used this opportunity to entrust a secret to Ryuuji and even mentioned she was happy to have him being the only one to know it. This was as far as she could go, knowing she had entrusted Taiga to Ryuuji at the beginning of this series and thus given up her own chances to get Ryuuji for herself. She can talk easily to Ryuuji, they eat and learn together; yes, we have Taiga's word in episode 1 that Ryuuji would "get ahead of himself" when dreaming of Minori but that was when Taiga didn't know Ryuuji. And Ami's sun/moon comment in the summer house was one of a rival. Ryuuji and Minori share quite some interests; she wasn't uncomfortable while locked in the storehouse together with Ryuuji in episode 3. Why couldn't it have worked?
And apparently, while observing Ryuuji working for Taiga "like a dog" and protecting the little girl the best he could, Ryuuji's shares must have been rising in Minori's eyes. But at the same time she can't be true to her own feelings as she would consider this as betraying Taiga. And now she finally learned that she was wrong, that it's not Ryuuji whom Taiga loves! (Remember that Minori never learned about Taiga's confession to Yuusuke in episode 2, and that Taiga cried "Ryuuji is mine!" after the boy almost drowned in the pool in episode 8.) Minori knows (since episode 14) that Ryuuji bought the photograph where they both crossed the finish line of the race together - Ryuuji was at an arm's length for Minori all this time, and she didn't even reach out to get him. Instead, she had an ugly quarrel with this boy about Taiga's father! Both made up again (in episode 13, during the race at the school festival) but mainly for Taiga's sake; certainly there are some scars remaining on both sides (on their way to Kitamura in episode 15 Minori tells Ryuuji: "Even though we want to understand each other there are things we don't"). No wonder that from this point on her thoughts are "elsewhere" while she's on the softball field... just one episode earlier Minori told Ryuuji that she is "not honest", and now we get an idea about which subject.
Ami (who has her own agenda regarding Ryuuji - we've seen her phone call in episode 14 when she told her mother she'd "stay a bit longer" at this school) has known all along that the rumors about Taiga and Ryuuji were wrong. During the summer holidays (episode 10) she learned first hand how Ryuuji was "admiring" Minori, and she fervently told him that he (the "moon") would "burn out" next to this girl (the "sun") and never be her equal (whereas Ami "walks on the same road" as Ryuuji, "only a few steps ahead" - so they could be equals in a relation). So it's kind of strange for her to encourage Minori to reconsider her position now, thus further damaging her own hopes about Ryuuji - she wasn't that selfless in other situations. has she resigned already?