I've got to admit--every time I think I understand how this show plans on ending, they turn around and kick everything out from beneath me.
Shin'ichiro, and the two remaining female leads both suffer some serious angst issues in this episode.
Yet what really came out of left field was Noe's realizations on just how naive she's been. While she easily saw through Hiromi's attempts to get close to her early in the episode, that was the last time she really recognized anyones feelings. At least that's what she's told herself. She didn't see Jun's feelings, and she didn't see what she believes to be Shin's feelings as well. Hiromi's she kind of knew the entire time.
Frankly, I've always liked Noe. She's innocent and carefree and just fun. In fact the way her character is built reminds me of my beloved wife. Yes, I could see my beloved singing a song about how I had a roach under my hat as a form of less-than-subtle mocking.
Hiromi though, I've always been a bit less interested in. I personally didn't find her as compelling a character. Sure, she had the right keys to kick things into gear: sad background, childhood friend, lives in the same house and of course the issues early on with Shin's mom. Yet she didn't start anything until Noe appeared on the scene.
Finally Shin'ichiro. He's grown up a lot over the course of this series. Yet, we still have to see what type of lesson he's learned. Fortunately, this isn't one of those things where it's win or lose. At least in the short term. He's choosing a girl. More importantly, the one he chooses will ultimately be his choice. Which is one of the things that he's learned. Life is about making choices, and then living with the results of that choice.
Now, we just get to see what his choice will be.
Episode 12 begins right where 11 left off, Noe standing on the wharf with that chicken, seeing the roach/Shin'ichiro song. She says something about how the chicken chose not to fly and that was his strength which she didn't see. Shin watched all this, and then disappears. We find out that he snuck back to his house, and called Hiromi so that she could call Jun and tell him that Noe would probably be home soon.
After he gets off the phone, Shin has some serious soul searching/emo/angst thing going on while hiding in his closet. He considers his dancing, his drawing and the three girls, as he announces to himself that he had never chose anything.
Noe takes Jibeta back to his coop and heads to the house where she finds her brother making her dinner. She gives him a hug and tells him thanks.
The next scene is the day of the festival and Shin's mom and Hiromi are pouring drinks for the Mugiha dancers. One of them notices that Shin'ichiro isn't around and the mom sends Hiromi in after him. She goes in and finds him in a kind of daze, as he's still dealing with the emotional backwash of basically the entire series. Hiromi then wonders where she can get a good view of the dance, and Shin tells her she doesn't have to do that.
We then flip back to Noe to discover she's spending quality time with her grandma's picture and the Kleenex box chicken Shin made her. As she's doing this she says that she's not going to go to the festival.
The festival begins and Ai-chan shows up to help Hiromi. Ai says something or other about Noe being Shin's girlfriend and that doesn't please Hiromi one bit. Well, both of those see Noe, and Hiromi then tells Ai that she's Shin's girl. A fact that shocks Ai-chan. Noe runs off and Hiromi chases her down. Once she gets Noe to stop, Hiromi tells her that Shin is hers, and that she loves him, as she begins to cry. Noe says that Hiromi's tears are beautiful and then disappears into the crowd.
Then we get some male bonding time between Shin and Nobuse. He's apparently been roped into running Ai-chan stall while she helps Hiromi. Nobuse asks him what he's doing, and he admits that he has no clue.
Then we get some more pictures of Noe being emo.
While that's happening she gets a phone call, and then goes to Jun's workplace to ask why he's hunting for a job in Tokyo. Jun then confesses to Noe; and no, they're not not related. Since he realizes that it's not appropriate, he has decided to run away. He also confesses the deal he made with Shin'ichiro to her.
Of course, this sends Noe dovetailing right back into her emo mode; though she still doesn't cry.
We cut back to the big-event at the festival: Shin's dance. Hiromi's in the crowd watching, and then she notices Noe there. Shin'ichiro while dancing is thinking about the picture book story and everything that's happened to him. Once the dance is over, Hiromi looks at Noe again to find that she's gone.
Shin comes down, and sees her, and he tells her he has to go somewhere for a bit. She tells him that she chased Noe off, and asked if he was angry at her. He tells her no, but then runs off anyhow. She goes emo as well, and slips off her shoe, telling him to not leave her behind.
Rather than going to the closing celebration, Shin heads to the school. Where we find that Noe is climbing the tree she had climbed at the start of the series. She's still angsting over her lack of insight, and once Shin arrives on the scene, we see her falling.