Ai Yori Aoshi - 23: Determination

Title:Ai Yori Aoshi
Episode:23: Determination
With three persons missing, the western style house is a scene of sadness. All the girls wonder where Kaoru has left so suddenly, leaving just a short note behind.
Miyabi had to drive her car through the night for hours, but now they have arrived at some other Sakuraba property: Aoi had asked Miyabi to bring Kaoru to her. Kaoru asks Aoi if anything has happened, but she tells him everything is alright... she just wants to go on a walk with him alone [image1].
Aoi gives Kaoru a tour of that property, including a shrine of Emmusubi (God of Engagements). Kaoru begins to remember that he has been at this place on the day when he and Aoi first met as children; he recognizes a big tree where he used his most precious possession (the key of his mother's jewelry box) to scratch two marks for Aoi's and his height into the bark [image2] - and how he left this key in Aoi's hands as a pawn until he would return to her. Aoi hands him back this key [image3] which has now become his only remaining keepsake from his mother.
Meanwhile Miyabi has already left the property, leaving a note behind that she will return tomorrow - so Aoi and Kaoru will be together alone this night. Both are acting shy and slightly embarassed, but Aoi tells Kaoru this feels like a honeymoon. Aoi feeds Kaoru like a little child... [image4] then she asks Kaoru to take a bath together, and she washes his back, like she did in Kaoru's apartment on their first day together.
In the bath Aoi's self-control finally breaks down [image5], and she tells Kaoru that her father planned to engage her to the son of a business man, and that he even imprisoned her here - that's why she made Miyabi-san bring Kaoru to her. And Kaoro promises to never leave Aoi alone...
On the next morning Miyabi returns, expecting the lovebirds to have eloped already. But how surprised she is to meet them at the gate, hand in hand! [image6]
(2004-03-11, Devil Doll:)
Miyabi prepares everything so that Aoi and Kaoru get a chance to elope. She may be Kaoru's guardian now as well but she is far from understanding this young man, basically because she doesn't know anything about his past at Hanabishi (back in episode 3 of Ai Yori Aoshi when Kaoru told Aoi why he cannot return there she only watched from the window but was too far away to listen).
Until the middle of this episode both Kaoru and the audience get the impression that Aoi might actually be about to part with Kaoru. She is spending hours together with Kaoru without telling him what her father had ordered her to, and how she feels about it... but in the end we learn that Aoi needed this day together with Kaoru to be absolutely sure about her feelings. Now she is ready to sacrifice everything else, even the connection to her family - which is something thah Kaoru knows too well already... but there is still one final episode left where we will learn why they didn't make use of the way out that Miyabi had created for them.

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