Ai Yori Aoshi - 22: Homecoming

Title:Ai Yori Aoshi
Episode:22: Homecoming
As announced at the end of the previous episode, Kaoru wants to take Aoi to a certain place. They are travelling by train, then by bus; Kaoru has bought food and flowers [image1] as a gift, but he doesn't tell Aoi where they will be going and whom they are about to meet. Finally they arrive in a little town where Kaoru leads Aoi to the cemetery - and to the tombstone of the Honjyou family, the grave of his mother. Kaoru formally introduces his mother and Aoi to each other; they arrange the presents and pray at the grave [image2]. And Aoi finds the right words when Kaoru is unsure about his memories about his mother.
But the telephone call Miyabi-san received at the end of the previous episode has its consequences as well. Miyabi tries to make Aoi's father change his mind [image3] but is ordered to be silent. A depressed Miyabi returns to the western style house where Chika is paying a visit and everyone is enjoying the funny game Tina made. And they are planning an otsukimi party (autumnal moon watching) for the day after tomorrow...
On the next day Miyabi takes Aoi home to the Sakuraba family without telling her why; Aoi wants Kaoru not to worry as she will be back in time for the party. Then Kaoru has a nightmare: He wants to introduce Aoi to his mother but the girl suddenly has disappeared, and then his mother as well... the preparations for the party are completed, still neither Aoi nor Miyabi have returned; although the otsukimi day would be today everyone agrees not to have a party without Aoi [image4].
Kaoru has another nightmare - this time about Aoi saying sayonara to him. He awakes and wanders though the dark and lonely house [image5], feeling that something bad must have happened. Finally he runs out of the door into the night - only to meet Miyabi outside! And Miyabi asks him to come with her immediately [image6].
(2004-03-11, Devil Doll:)
Now the drama evolves, showing how close happiness and sadness can be at times. The contrast of these emotion makes this episode one of the best of this series.
Aoi and Kaoru had a lot of time to learn about each other in the western style house, and Kaoru is now ready to make a decision. So he is doing what a young man would do in this situation, only that his family situation differs from those of most other young men. Once again we see that Kaoru and Aoi have been raised in the same traditional way: Aoi behaves naturally and self-confidently in this ceremonial situation.
Tina's game has a number of symbolic hints about the situation, like Mayu playing the clown, or Aoi's figure standing on a field named "jumped and cut sandal string, lose 30 turns" - wasn't that exactly what happened at the railway station when Aoi and Kaoru met for the first time?
Miyabi's speech to Kaoru in the car (which will even be repeated at the beginning of episode 23 of Ai Yori Aoshi) is the most important scene of the series to me, summing up both Aoi's whole life and Miyabi's change of opinion about Kaoru. When she puts in a higher gear in the car and kicks down the gas pedal her face looks like the one of a tigress willing to fight for her children.

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