Episode 12: Episode twelve represents the crest of the romantic tide as a 'moving in party' is decided to cheer up the kicked-out-of-the-house-on-suspicion-of-incest-Kyousuke. Every girl Kyousuke's met gathers under his roof simultaneously and fights over who should spend all their time with him while he's away from his little sister. Because the girls are overall nice people, the fight isn't that big a deal and is more something harmless and cute. It is impressive how many girls have started to care for him though. On top of Kirino and Manami, who he knew from the beginning of the story, Kirino's friends Kanako, Saori, Kuroneko and Ayase have all joined the fray. I guess it pays to have a little sister since you can hit on everyone she knows through your mutual connection.
In order to end the debate, Kirino nominates Ayase to 'take care' of Kyousuke while he's away from home, on the basis that she can be trusted not to make a move on him like the other girls would. Ayase fulfills this duty to the letter, being a perfect friend to Kirino and not betraying her expectations for the entire month. She just cooks, cleans, and helps him study as Kirino asked of her, until the mock exam is done. If he gets an A on the exam, he's allowed to reenter his own home, which he seems to quite casually manage to do after all the help and good cheer everyone's provided for him over the last couple episodes. After he's locked up his place of exile and is leaving back for home, though, Ayase is there to interrupt him, not as his designated caretaker, but as a single girl in love. Instead of betraying Kirino's trust, she waited until her job was done, and then on her own individual initiative, not taking advantage of her month time alone with him, confesses to him with tears in her eyes. Ayase is such an honest girl! Looking back on this episode, her sincerity and purity just envelops her like the light of a byzantine saint.
But it's not to be. Kyousuke explains quite simply that he's already fallen in love with someone else. It appears that Ayase is too late, which she probably knew before she even confessed. I think she went into that battle knowing it was a lost cause, but feeling that she needed to say it or that she'd hate herself as a coward for the rest of her life. Therefore, even though she was rejected, she felt better that everything had been cleared up between them before the end. Leaving with a permanent sounding 'saiyonara,' it's doubtful whether Kyousuke will ever see Ayase again. With Kyousuke taking such extreme measures to turn down Ayase, it's hard to believe any of the other girls have a chance to sway him any more either. From here on he's going to be turning down and separating from girl after girl until the ending, until he's only left with one. (or two? Kuroneko was okay with sharing. . .)
So the only question now is who was he referring to when he said he already loved someone else? Was it Kirino? Or Kuroneko? Or could it still possibly be Manami? It can be taken as a given that Saori and Kanako never stood a chance, but at this stage I wouldn't count out anyone else. A lot happened this episode, in that we've never seen Kyousuke as competent and decisive as this before, but I guess he felt six girls at a welcoming party was a bit much and that he'd have to change his ways a bit before the situation got out of hand. But in another sense, not much happened this episode, because we still don't know who he loves or what he's thinking. It's quite the cliffhanger for future episodes to deal with, and since the last three episodes come out in August, it appears we're going to be hanging over this cliff for a long time yet. If the story was going to get this tense, I almost wish I hadn't started watching it until the whole series was available, so I could watch it all in one go. Well, such is fate -- sort of like the wait for those last two episodes of Madoka Magica, or the last two episodes of Girls und Panzer, it feels like every great anime has random month long breaks before finally providing us with a finale.
One nice thing about this episode is Kirino didn't get mad (relatively speaking, she only shouted and hit a table) at anyone, didn't call anyone names, and didn't slug anyone, even though there were quite a few enemies to get jealous and angry about. I don't think it's because Kirino has learned to calm down and be more mature about things. In actuality, I feel that it's the calm of someone who already knows she's the victor. Ever since Kyousuke promised not to date anyone until she does, she just isn't too worried about all the girls fluttering around him. She trusts him and knows it's no big deal, that his real goal is to get back home and live with her again. The only thing she was worried about this episode is if they'd pester him so much he couldn't concentrate on his studies, and on her side, she left him completely alone so he could stay focused on the task at hand. So even though Ayase confessed to Kyousuke this episode, with all sorts of reasons why and even a goodbye kiss, I feel like Kirino's steadfast trust in her older brother really stole the show.