In an attempt to pair Rihoko up with Junichi, Kanae leaves him to help her when she’s having trouble skating. But it only leads to her slipping when she thinks she can do it on her own, and him accidentally grabbing her breasts when he tries to catch her. After this Kanae tells her how it’s time to plan their next action after how well the last one went, due to her duties in the Tea Club it doesn’t look like the Founders Festival could work.
When she gets home she decides to knit him some gloves for him as a Christmas present since he had lost the pair he had. During school she goes to Tsukasa to fill out the form for the equipment that the Tea Club will need, but she’s not really sure what to do or get, leading to a lot of work for Tsukasa. Meanwhile Junichi looks back on what happened before and ponders whether they would have been bigger than the meat bun in his hand. He ends up getting caught by Rihoko’s upperclassmen in the Tea Club, Ruriko Yuzuki and Manaka Hiba who have him help them carry their kotatsu top. After he helped them they invite him to stay for some tea and he learns that they knew about him from Rihoko always talking about him, Rihoko arrives back soon after and filling out the form tired both her and Tsukasa out. As they’re about to leave for class, Ruriko asks him whether he wants to help them out at the Founder’s Festival.
We then get a quick montage of what the various girls are doing leading up to the Founder’s Festival, with Ai learning the Oden recipe from Hibiki while Haruka waits alongside, Sae and Miya playing around, Tsukasa working on the preparations, and Kaoru working at her part time job. With the festival fast approaching, Ruriko and Manaka tell Rihoko that she’s going to need to learn how to make good tea and that the festival will almost be their last chance to bring in some new members, for which they have Junichi in mind.
On Christmas Eve, Junichi is unsure about whether to go or not but decides to when Miya reminds him of his promise, at the gate he and Umehara part ways with him telling him to watch how he lived. When he arrives to help the Tea Club, Ruriko suggests that he join and he’s stunned when he sees Rihoko in her kimono, while the two of the hand out fliers, Rihoko asks him if he’ll join and they’re able to convince Miya and Sae to come once they’ve had some of the Swim Club’s Oden. They watch the lighting of the tree together and wish each other a Merry Christmas, and after this the festival goes like it has before with a few differences.
Once they festival is over Junichi reflects on how it was a good idea to help out and Rihoko can smell a mint like smell in the air. It then starts to snow and it brings back memories of how Rihoko would try to catch snow in her mouth, and just as they’re about to head home she gives him the gloves she made. They’re kind of small but he’s sure that they’ll stretch out as he places his hands on her cheeks, however he doesn’t have anything for her so he asks her if she has anything in mind and to tell him when she does. Meanwhile Umehara walks down the lonely highway, feeling that a man’s battle has no end and screaming out Merry Christmas. When she gets home Rihoko talks with Kanae about what she should ask Junichi for.
It may only be two episodes into Rihoko’s arc but so far it’s got that feeling that it’s progressed a lot further than the other arcs have at this point. Other than that there was still that feeling that Rihoko was kind of the protagonists, though Junichi had started to edge back and reclaim his title. It was also kind of amusing to see Rihoko’s upperclassmen, Ruriko and Manaka and even Kanae for that matter, trying to set her up with Junichi. With the former two also trying to get him to join their club.
How it feels like it’s progressed further in two episodes can probably be placed to the childhood friend element that’s present, as unlike some of the other arcs both Junichi and the heroine know each other fairly well. So that time that’s usually spent on them getting to know each other isn’t really needed, and even then there’s also the matter of Rihoko’s unrequited feelings for Junichi so not much time has to be spent on the her coming to terms with her feelings for him either. As due to that it should be more focused on Junichi in this aspect. It should also be noted that it’s already at the Founder’s Festival as well, when this usually doesn’t take place until the last episode.
Though the aspect that makes this arc unique is the role of the protagonist being taken by Rihoko, it’s almost as if Junichi is slowly edging his way back to the role he’s originally played. With the focus that they both received is starting to be balanced between them, while Rihoko still retains a significant amount of it. As it still primarily followed her during the part when they went skating at the start and during the build up to the Founder’s Festival, while we were able to see it follow Junichi a bit during the latter and just before the festival.
One of the things that was actually quite amusing to see were the attempts that both Kanae and her upperclassmen in the Tea Club would make in order to set Rihoko up with Junichi. Such as how Kanae had set it all up for them all to go skating, and actually thought that it was a good thing that Rihoko had slipped with Junichi catching her in a rather embarrassing way. Which she was probably right about considering how it was still with him the next day. The attempts that her upperclassmen, Ruriko and Manaka made were also pretty fun to see, with their attempts not only being aimed at setting them up but also at what might have been their last chance to save their seemingly doomed club. Though it was slightly disappointing that we didn’t get to see Junichi’s teacher again like we had before, but it was probably avoided due to Ruriko and Manaka being in charge this time.