Well so much for my thoughts of last week along the lines of “oh it is entirely possible for the rest of the season to be set in the summer”. Possible but not the case it would seem as we start this episode with the cast walking together on their first day back with Natsumi commenting on how much she would like to go back in time. My words have been very much swallowed, however I would suggest feeling more sorry for Hikage as she only partook in the one happening before being send back to off-screen Tokyo (Well technically this much is not true due to the chronology of the two seasons but it doesn’t change the amount of screen time she gets). In all honestly I should have really seen this much happening as the timing of the returning to school episode is pretty well seated in relation to real events only a week early, leaving me picturing some poor school kid, wishing that they had more than a week left of holiday, watching Non Non Biyori to distract themselves only to be faced with returning to school in the anime world too.
But let us move on, there is more to discuss about this episode than it simply featuring the characters returning to school. The first section of the episode is very much a case of just getting back into how things happen for the cast during term time with Hotaru endeavoring to get Senpai to notice her more, Natsumi being Natsmi and Renge managing to be really out there. Which is quite nice as it eases us back into the slightly different pace school happenings have compared to the long quite holiday days we have seen a lot of in recent episodes and it also helps that the punch line for the segment is something that I genuinely found very amusing in a manner that only Renge’s character can pull off. The title of “going back” does not uniquely refer to the regular cast returning from summer break though as, in what Natsumi’s time travel comments perhaps foreshadowed, the middle of the episode is taken up by a flashback to a few years ago, back when Kaede and Konomi were still in school. This flashback, induced by the cast seeing a combination of Renge and curry; tells us of the time when Hikage brought the even younger Renge into school once -due to their parents being unwell- only for Renge to cause much catastrophe, upsetting both of the Koshigaya siblings and managing to upturn the entire cauldron of curry that was for the students lunch.
During the flashback sequence, Renge manages to upset Komari by chewing on the ear of a soft toy that she is particularly fond of. This brings us nicely into the final section of the episode in which, while cleaning out her room Komari finds said soft toy under here bed thanks to Natsumi losing a bouncy ball -one that she discovered while tidying up- under there. The toy is in a bad state and Komari’s initial thoughts are that she no longer needs it but some reminiscing and a flick through an old photo album change this much. When it comes to soft toys there is nobody more into making them (or should we say making a specific kind of them) than Hotaru so in order to get advice and help on the matter Komari pays an unannounced visit to Hotaru’s house giving us a chance to see Komari be confused by Hotaru’s extensive Koma-chan collection and fail to realize what it means. This aside though the two of them have a good time so I guess it works out well for Hotaru in the end. The episode ends with Komari having matured thanks to the experience, reminding her sister not to lose or get rid of things that meant a lot to her during her childhood else she wont have anything to remind her of the old times. They say that “you can’t stop yourself from gaining years but you can stop yourself from losing them”.