Outline (Released November 4, 2007)Edit
As Chihiro sleeps, she dreams that she is trapped in a prison, bound by a 12-year chain beyond which she can go only 13 hours. This is shown metaphorically by an illuminated circle of stained glass that represents her maximum temporal reach, beyond which she cannot go.
In a flashback, Kyosuke (age approximately 7) watches his beautiful mother on television running gracefully along the beach in a sundress with her long hair blowing in the wind. His mother than walks up behind him and tells her son, "Look, that's me." She mentions that she liked working with that particular film director. Kyosuke is fascinated. He then turns and asks his mother how she is feeling, and she replies that she feels good today (she has terminal cancer). She bends down as she continues to watch herself on TV and tells her son that "my dream came true, even if only for a moment." She puts her hand lovingly his shoulder and says, "I hope your dreams will come true too." Kyosuke understands. Even though life is fleeting, film lasts. He decides that his dream will be to capture that kind of image and save it forever.
The present-day Kyosuke thinks to himself, "Mother, I think I found it," as the TV picture morphs into an image of Kei within his camera viewfinder. He is filming Kei dribbling and shooting hoops on the school basketball court. She spots him and walks over, then she punches him in the gut for filming her without her permission and leaves.
Hiro wakes up at his desk. He realizes that he has overslept because Kei did not wake him up in the morning like she usually does, and he starts to miss her.
Chihiro brightly greets Renji at the abandoned train station. She is very happy today, unlike yesterday when she was upset with him. The reason is because Yesterday's Chihiro wrote a fictitious diary entry that claimed that Renji embraced her, kissed her, and confessed his love to her. Renji freaks out and says none of it actually happened. But under Chihiro's persistent questioning he awkwardly admits that, well, maybe he did want to kiss her, and, yeah, maybe he did hold her (to her keep from falling). But he fails to explain it properly. Chihiro is now eager to write her novel with Renji. It should be pointed out that she's not fooling herself: She knows Renji would give her the correct account; it was merely Yesterday's Chihiro way of encouraging Today's Chihiro to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a writer - something she had always wanted to do since before the accident.
However, Renji misses one very important implication: Chihiro can, if she wants to, lie to herself in order to force changes in her future behavior. This becomes a significant issue in episode 11.
Renji escorts Chihiro to his home for lunch, and he introduces her to his mother, Sumire Asou, and to his next door neighbor, Kuze Shuichi. (Note: Kuze is pleasant and charming here - his illness has not been diagnosed yet.) Sumire fishes for a compliment from Chihiro about her young looks by at first claiming to be Renji's wife, and she gets one (she is actually well over 30). Renji is annoyed. Renji then prepares lunch for them in the kitchen while they continue to chat amicably at the table. Chihiro explains that she and Renji are only just friends, but Kuze says, "In my experience, men and women are never just friends" (foreshadowing Kuze's arc in Melodies). Kuze and Sumire continue their playful banter with Chihiro, much to Renji's consternation. Chihiro compliments Renji on his cooking skills. She admits she's a terrible cook herself (same as Kei).
Upstairs in Renji's bedroom, he and Chihiro work out the logistics for writing her novel. Renji will do the editing and provide the continuity for the plot, setting, and characters. Chihiro reveals that, prior to meeting Renji, that she has previously made 31 failed attempts to write down her tale. Renji vows that this time they will succeed. (Chihiro gives a subtle hint that if she actually does finish her story, it will be a major turning point in her life, but Renji misses it.) Later, Renji reads the outline that she had given him: It is a tale about a girl who lived alone on a small island with a castle. The castle was full of food provisions and many books, so the girl would neither starve nor lack something to read. Every day she read the books, which revealed a whole wide world beyond the horizon.
Earlier that afternoon, Kei spots Miyako in the school stairwell and tries to confront her. Miyako plays dumb, saying she only vaguely remembers who Kei is, then says she's going home now, and that Kei is free to tag along if she wants to talk. Kei clenches her fists and follows Miyako out of the school and onto the street. Miyako tsk-tsks that Kei has just lost her Perfect Attendance Award. (Miyako is deliberately throwing Kei off balance.) Kei gets angry and says that, due to Miyako's influence, Hiro is barely passing his classes, and that he is jeopardizing his success in school, and that his whole future is on the line. Miyako yawns and tells Kei, "The only person who can decide Hiro's future is Hiro himself. You are only a third party. Can you can take responsibility for his dreams? Can you guarantee that if he goes to school he'll still be successful at what he wants to do? If he puts his dream of being a manga artist on hold, can you guarantee he won't lose that dream forever?"
Miyako (who is far more intelligent than she lets on) continues to give Kei a cheerful and epic verbal beatdown with a smile. Miyako then goes on the offensive, and she zeros in on Kei's feelings of guilt: "Kei, you're not being honest with yourself, and if you don't recognize it, you might end up hating yourself one day."
Kei reels backwards. Before Miyako walks away, she nonchalantly informs Kei that if she runs she can still make it back before sixth period starts. Kei just stands there in stunned silence.
After school, Kei jogs alone and broods. While running along the beachfront, Kei has a flashback to when she and her twin sister Chihiro liked to play with Hiro as children. The twins often competed against each other for his attention. One weekend, Chihiro (age 12) went to go see Hiro (age 13) at his father's house. They were planning to write a pretend manga story together that day. (Chihiro had proposed the idea as a ploy to get closer to him.) However, Hiro wasn't home because Kei had just dragged Hiro out of the house to go down to the beach with her instead. Chihiro, who already had plans with Hiro that weekend, was upset that Kei had stolen him away without asking. Chihiro quickly ran down a steep and winding road to catch up with them. As Chihiro ran, she spotted Kei and Hiro nearing the beach below her, so she yelled and waved at them. Kei turned just in time to see Chihiro struck from behind by a car, grievously injuring her.
We now know the reason for Kei's guilt: She blames herself for causing Chihiro's accident. She is now unworthy confessing her love to him, because if she hadn't tried to steal Hiro away that fateful morning, she knows that Hiro would have ultimately ended up with Chihiro, not with her. Kei's guilt over the accident blocks her from ever confessing her true feelings to Hiro, and so instead she masks her feelings by taking care of him, mothering him, waking him up in the mornings, and so on. As she reflects on the past, the angel Yuuko appears. She urges Kei to move on, but she cannot. (Kei finally finds closure over her guilt when Chihiro reconciles with her in Melodies episode 5.)
Later, Chihiro walks home after dark, so Kuze gallantly offers to be her escort. He takes her back home to Yuu Himura, and he mentions that he and Himura are longtime friends. While walking her home, he quotes a stanza from a poem that Himura had once memorized:
How many mountains and rivers must I cross
To reach the place where loneliness ends?
Kuze dolefully informs Chihiro that Himura will never find such a place, because it does not exist (meaning Himura will never see Yuuko again). Chihiro points that it is not a sad poem, but rather one that has hope. Kuze reflects on this.
Hiro calls Kei's cellphone and asks her to come over to his place, where she is surprised to meet Kyosuke again. Hiro introduces them. Kyosuke asks Kei if she will 'go out' with him, which completely surprises her.
The episode finishes with a new ending sequence that focuses on Chihiro.