With the winter season in full effect and lots of snow on the ground,
the boys still get in some time with their favorite pastime. Though they
didn't do as well as they could in the fall tournament, they're still
hopeful that they can get into Koshien and the dialogue between them as
they shovel part of the school sports area is rather endearing, if you
remember doing similar things yourself back in high school. The
camaraderie among the boys has grown a lot and Azuma definitely fits in
with them now as part of the group, though he's still his usual slightly
distant self. But there's a different sense about them, a sense of
comfort that works rather well in making it all feel much more real.
The relationship side is played out elsewhere in this episode, which is no surprise since it's closing in on Valentine's Day. What I really liked is that since time has moved forward, other events have come and gone that are only now being felt. Akane participated in an art contest in which she used the combination imagery of Aoba and Ko in order to create a piece of artwork that will be projected in Koshien itself as part of the grand prize that it won. Aoba's reaction to it is generally positive, but she sees how Ko looks in Akane's eyes from it. Ko doesn't get that sense from her and notes that it's actually Aoba in the picture since he lent Akane a lot of pictures of Aoba pitching in order to have still pictures to work with. He's pretty sure that it's all about Aoba and that actually manages to assuage her some since Ko is simply so honest about it. The strange thawing of interest the two have in each other continues'