Oh my stars and garters. The fine folks over at P.A. Works have truly wrought a wonderful series here. Noe is not only innocent, but she also is inspiring. We've seen this many times by her influence on Shinichirō's artwork, but here she takes it a step further and actually helps him to overcome his concerns.
For Jun's part, there are a couple of things which further the thought that he has a serious sister-complex in this episode. The first is the surprise that's etched on his face when he learns that Shinichirō confessed to Noe. The second is his declaration that he'd do anything for Hiromi in order to stay together with her so that Shin and Noe would stay together. On an amusing note, was his reaction when Hiromi confronted him with the thought that he has one.
Which is really the only good thing Hiromi did in this episode. She's acting more like Shinichirō's mother with every passing moment, even going so far as to say the same types of things that Shin's mom says to her to Noe. Then forcing Jun to risk his life on the motorcycle, just so she can run away--she's got some serious angst coming up. Additionally, I fear it will probably spill over and affect most of the cast.
Finally, Ai. Shinichirō shot her down hard and fast, as he well should. After all, he fully sees her as Nobuse's girl, and as Nobuse is his best friend, there's no way he could look at her. Frankly, she doesn't deserve Nobuse, but that's probably why he'll stay with her in the end.
The episode starts off with Noe having a chat with the picture of her dead grandma. Jun shows up, and gets something of a shock when he learns that Shinichirō confessed to Noe. Afterwards, we flip over to Shinichirō where he's having a bit of trouble writing his picture book. Mainly because he's thinking about the three girls. After he remembers the kiss, we go look in on Ai and find out just what happened after the kiss. Mainly that he acted in a somewhat dignified manner, and told her that he couldn't do that to his best friend. Remembering that causes Ai to kind of break down in tears.
Suddenly, it's class the next day with Shinichirō and Miyokichi, who's working on a math problem at the blackboard. After class he tries to get Shin to go to Ai's shop, and Shinichirō begs off, claiming a date with Noe. So, Shin goes off to the chicken coop and hunts about for Noe, finally finding her holding the white bird in the cage because she thought he was cold. As he's helping her out, Hiromi and her friend see them, and she says her usual annoying thing about not liking Shin.
Then we get the date between Noe and Shinichirō, and he takes her to a wharf. She runs along its top like a kid, while he stays on the ground saying things like "don't fall." Being the perceptive lass that she is, she notices that Shin is a bit down. She gives him a hug, and tells him to look towards the sky. He then tells her the start of the picture book that he's writing, which makes her all sorts of happy. While he's continuing the narration, we flip over to Ai, who's busy at work. Miyokichi shows up, and she makes a "busy" gesture. He nods and walks away and we go back to Noe and Shin.
That night, Shin is once more staring at the blank sheet of paper, when he gets the inspiration. He then regals her with the new content the next day at school, which earns him a kiss on the cheek. After school, Hiromi makes a sad face when she sees them walking home together.
She then has a bad dream based on the time she was lost in the woods when she was a kid, and she bolts awake saying "don't leave me behind." Shinichirō comes downstairs with his hair quite mused, and makes some oddball comment about it to the plant worker. Hiromi calls it weird.
Hiromi stops into the dining room, and tells Shin's dad that she's off to school, and he asks if she feels alright, and makes a point of saying that she's a part of the family, and that she reminds him of her mother. Hiromi smiles, and closes the screen to be confronted by Shin's mom who says the same thing in her evil-step-mother voice. Shinichirō's mom then goes on about how everyone loves Hiromi. All this makes her sad, and she goes to meet up with Jun.
There, she reveals how she miserable she is, so Jun takes her to play a game of twenty questions mixed with HORSE. We then get to see more of Shinichirō's picture book, as Noe looks through it. After she's done, she claims to want to go look at the white chicken again. Then its back to the free-throw question session, and we learn that Jun has to answer two questions of Hiromi's. The first she asks about Noe and then she asks why Jun is going out with her. Jun answers both questions, truthfully.
Well, Noe and Shinichirō are walking onto the school's ground, and they walk into Jun and Hiromi. Noe and Hiromi go over to the chicken coop, and she tells Hiromi that she's happy that Hiromi fought properly with her. Then Hiromi uses all those nasty words that Shin's mom has been telling her on Noe. Hiromi then leaves, and Jun chases after her. She confesses to Jun that what she told Noe is her true feelings. Once she got home, she found the pictures that Shinichirō's mom had mutilated. She tells her that she understands why she did it, but that the picture was still of Hiromi's mom. Hiromi then runs off to Jun house. She convinces him to run away with her, even though it's dangerous to ride the motorcycle in the snow.
Then it's time to visit Shinichirō and Noe, as he's walking her home. Shinichirōhears the motorcycle, and pulls Noe out of the center of the street, and he recognizes Hiromi as they ride past.