If you’re reading this review, chances are you have seen Episode One. But I will say it anyway. This Review will contain spoilers. So if you haven’t watched this episode yet, please do, then come back.
We continue on from the previous episode with the story more or less divided in two and a little bit of a third story thrown in to set up the ending. Its New Years Eve, and Rin is off to a beach camp site near Shizuoka to not only do a solo camp, but also to see the first Sunrise of the New Year and visit her second Dog Shrine in the series. She goes to a Tea Shop (with a cafe on the second floor) where she finds out that the Hiker who gave her a bag of tea on the Mountain Trail in Season One is actually the owner, which is an odd but lovely nod to little scenes that could be overlooked. She buys her tea within a 2000 yen budget (Special Tea!), then tries out the Cafe, which includes Green Tea Tiramisu (The cafe was recommended by her Mum, who continues to show off her Mum-being-Mum moments by putting an extra 1000 yen in just for that experience). Afterwards, Rin goes to the Dog Shrine, where she hoped to meet the sacred dog known as Shippei The Third, who lives on the premise…only to find out that the Dog has passed on several years before, so she was visiting a grave instead. This scene is quite pivotal to the show, because up to this point, something like Death was not addressed before (outside of thanking cows for their wonderful Beef). Her texts to Ena bring up the question on whether she is scared about losing Chikuwa eventually…to which Ena simply replied “I’ll be sad when it happens, but until then I’m going to give him the best life” – which is all we can say, really. After a whole season and spin off of coziness and human error, we’re presented with this hint of seriousness…and you know what? I’m okay with that. Sitcoms have been doing it for generations, so it’s not something to get down about. After buying another Dog Shrine figure, you might notice what could be Shippei The Fourth watching on…who knows.
Meanwhile in our second story, Chiaki, Aoi and Minami Toba (The Girls’ Outdoors Club Supervisor, aka Miss Chug) are also seeing the New Year Sun Rise, and they’re going together with Aoi’s little sister Akari, who was presented as sweet and innocent in Season One, but here we see her dark side, as she’s exceptionally mischievous towards Chiaki. They go to the Mount Monobu Summit by Cable Car to see the sunrise from there (while tucking into seasonal treats and praying at the shrine, as is traditional), then decide to try and see the Diamond Fuji (Both an experiential and photo opportunity where the sun surrounds the tip of Mount Fuji like a gleaming diamond on top), which leads to a great scene that borrows straight out of Initial D (quite literally. It was a big surprise, but I laughed out loud when it happened. Good job!). While this side of the story is a little more low key than Rin’s, it is good to see some extra layers to these characters (Such as how Minami is perhaps the Drunken Master of Drift Racing…if that has ever been a thing before, as I’ve seen more than enough “Never drink and drive” adverts at Christmas time to ever find out…and then again, it’s “Sober Toba” behind the wheel here, so take note, she’s a model rummy).
Which then brings up the all important question as a follower of this show…What is Nadeshiko doing? Well…she’s working. While out doing her shift, she notices some dark clouds in the distance…and with the exception of replying to the girls’ group chat, she is building little snowmen and seeing Rin’s photos of the seaside (apparently a common trait of people who live in landlocked Prefectures). She was low key in this episode, but we will see what she does next week.
So far the show is doing what we’re expecting, but also without being predictable. It’s still thoroughly enjoyable and light hearted, even with the serious moment of reflection from Rin at the Shrine. The opening scene instantly reminded me why the art style has improved since Season One. It really has gotten better with progression. Looking forward to the next one.