Almost one year after the events of her arc Ai and Junichi haven’t been able to see each other as much, with Ai having to take on the responsibilities of being the captain of the Swim Club alongside those she already has, while Junichi has been busy with a cram school to help him pass his university entrance exams. However they’re both looking forward to their Christmas Eve date.
Following which it jumps ahead a bit to Ai going to his house to wake him up for school, but during this he pulls her under the covers instead. And when he finally gets to school he’s met by an Umehara who wants him to use his connections with his sister and Ai to land him a date for Christmas Eve, leading to Kaoru walking in and catching them in a compromising position, and after school he heads to the Library to study but finishes moments after bumping into Tsukasa there. Instead sneaking into the girl’s Swim Club training to see Ai which gets him dragged before the whole team, and while it looks as if he’s managed to get out of it, Miya having recently joined exposes what ever perverted intentions he had.
So because of this he’s berated by Ai as they walk home together and after explaining his true intentions she agrees to forgive him on one condition, to come with her to the grocery store in order to take advantage of a special there, but if he’s caught again he won’t be let off so easily. And after this it jumps ahead once more, where this time Junichi is napping in the infirmary during when Ai finds him and accidentally wakes him up. Somehow leading to him remembering how Miya used to fall asleep with her head on their father’s belly and Ai mentioning how her brother falls right asleep when someone sings him a lullaby, and so he asks if she could do the same for him. And as embarrassing as she thinks it is she agrees to when he mentions that they could close the curtains.
Not that long after this though, while they were looking forward to their Christmas Eve date something comes up that might just force them to postpone it, Junichi messed up with one of the mock exams he took at the cram school and will have to go to a camp as a result with the others who did badly, a camp that starts on the 23rd of December. The rumours for which frighten him as well, not only is the schedule tough but the one who runs it is apparently pretty scary as well. However because he failed because of a simple mistake he thinks he might not have to go, but even so Ai remembers she has to run the Swim Club’s Oden Stall again, not to mention all the other things she’ll have to do. So as the weeks until then pass they can barely find any time to be together, with Junichi spotting a jacket in a store window.
But while things seem to be looking up for them when this date arrives, Junichi is unexpectedly abducted by his cram school to go on the camp earlier, with the episode ending with Ai alone and wondering how he’s doing.
As much as I was looking forward to this arc I just can’t help but feel that there was something wrong with it, it just seemed to lack focus, where as the previous arcs had a clear path this episode simply seemed to consist of cute and lovey dovey scenes between Ai and Junichi. Sure there was the matter of their upcoming Christmas Eve date but it didn’t seem to really take precedence over that until it was too late.
But despite that, it was a nice way of easing us back into the atmosphere of her arc. I just thought that they seemed to take higher priority than they should have, as if throwing those little scenes of them together was placed above what was actually at hand. It just seemed to give a disjointed feeling to the episode, jumping forward unspecified amounts of time just to show those scenes, notably from how it jumped from them walking home together to Junichi randomly sleeping in the infirmary and Ai coming to wake him up. That said I didn’t think that those scenes themselves were bad, just that the transition between them could have been a bit better.
In a way it was actually kind of nice to see that things had continued in this way after the point that her arc had left off on in the previous season, and just as this aspect for all the heroines is one of the key incentives to this season I guess you could say that those sorts of segments are the same to Ai as a heroine. Though she isn’t as strict as Tsukasa she’s still strict enough to keep Junichi on a straight path while still giving him a bit of leeway to be his usual goofy self, scolding him at one point and then singing him a lullaby the next. Not to mention stuff like how she comes to wake him up every morning. And secondly she also happens to be nicely voiced by Yukana, making those switches in her demeanor a delight to listen to as well.
Other than that I also liked how the same theme from Ai’s arc in the first season was still there, that the weight of all their responsibilities threatens to crush their relationship, a danger only made worse by the time skip. Ai was already weighed down by the ones that she already had in the first season from home and at the Swim Club, but having to take over from Hibiki as the captain would have really only caused thatfrom the latter to grow, and while Junichi was pretty much free to do whatever he wanted to before he’s now busy constantly studying to be the guy she deserves. So as they approach their second Christmas Eve date that pressure against them is stronger than ever, and with Junichi kidnapped by his cram school for a camp run by a certain instructor, things aren’t looking up for them either.