Rin spends loads of time with Asa in the hospital, even skipping school to do so. Ama-san talks to him and tries to pinch some sense into the boy. Kaede has another mini-broken-tape-recorder episode when she questions Rin’s constant trips to the hospital. After her self-control wears off again, Kaede deploys her Nuclear Postman 1 (delivering “Nude Girl in Bed” 50 megaton warhead) which Rin manages to shoot down with his ACME MegaCannon ( “Run away!” ). After punching a helpless lamp post and soaking up the sky juice, he deploys his own Grim Reaper 2 (delivering “I’m Moving Out” 100 megaton warhead) against which Fuyou City’s L.N.D.S. ( “Shocked and awed” ) provides no real defence. Bonus point for anyone who knows what L.N.D.S. stands for.
This episode is the first time that Rin admits (albeit implicitly) that he likes Asa. First when Ama-san directly asks him, he eventually gives a rather unsatisfactory and half-hearted “Ha…” (“Yeah…” or “Sorta” methinks) but then she decides not to press him further and uses a line from the game when she asks Rin to look after Asa (A-chan no koto onegai ne). Later when Asa chides Rin for not being sensitive to a maiden’s heart (otome no kokoro) by telling a white lie when need be (about continuing to hold her hand), Rin responds to the teasing (which we saw since Ep 1) by saying that a guy’s heart is shy and he will say “No” even if he doesn’t mean it.
Mother and daughter apparently enjoy a very strong rapport when they both went “Neee!” together as well as tag-teaming on Rin about going to university and his grades. The room and garden scenes also further brought out the other side of Asa, besides her public persona of energetic tomboy senior (or genki-bokkuko-sempai), the sickly, quiet and contemplative girl. Although she’s been Rin’s pillar of strength, when he held her in his arms (like in Ep 19) and when she leaned against him, she just seemed smaller and more fragile. Even her voice had a wistful drawl to it in contrast to her normal upbeat cheerfulness.
Asa also seems to be going through great lengths to hide her illness from Ama and Rin. The timing of her latest attack, upon recalling Rin holding her hand (and tying it with the nature of her illness), evokes a parallel to how Primula’s condition was governed by her emotions, the key to controlling her internal magical power. A comparison with the other attacks don’t seem to reveal a clear correlation to any single variable though – Ep 9 (after her topless incident and trying to appease Lisianthus’ jealousy), Ep 14 (after apologising to Lisianthus and Kaede for yelling at them and questioning their candidacy for Rin’s love), Ep 19 (after teasing Rin about possible rumours about them as a couple and again when meeting the full force of Kaede’s jealousy).
Rin also seems to have realised that there is some kind of miscommunication between Ama and Asa. The former still feeling guilty after being responsible for Asa’s condition and fearing that her daughter still blames her while the latter feeling guilty for having blamed and emotionally hurt the one who loved and cared for her. This Gordian knot will probably be a plot point in Ep 23 “Revealed Truth” to get Asa to accept her non-human heritage as she denies it not for her own sake but out of guilt and penance towards her mother.
Like Albert Elegance, I felt that Kaede was undoubtly the star of this episode again. After the shock of Asa’s collapse doused her jealous rage, she has another mini-relapse when she meets Rin on his way out to the hospital again. Rin’s absence and constant declining of her household service continue to gnaw away at her. She tries to confront him about how his neglect is causing her to suffer but does not press the issue as she feels she does not have the right to his love and that her own suffering is a sort of retribution. However her highlighting of the parallel between Ama and Asa on the one hand and Rin and herself on the other was also in the game (both latter girls feel guilty about mistreating the former and are suffering to try and make up for it), except it was brought up by Game Rin to Asa.
I think Primula’s questioning of Kaede after Rin fled was key to preparing the ground for Ep 21 as Primula, somewhat like the Blind Ape of Truth, forced Kaede to admit that she loved Rin and wanted him at her side for her own sake – which contradicted her own professed mission of being at Rin’s side to serve him and put his happiness above all else. In forcing Kaede to recognize her own feelings, Primula allowed Kaede to start to come to terms with the situation – to admit her feelings to Rin and to allow her hidden possessive love for Rin to blossom into a selfless love for him. However come the morning, she begins to backslide but Rin’s decision to leave the house is the hammer blow that forces her to confront the above contradiction without an easy way out.
Oh, and after Ep 19 and 20, I now rewatch and interpret Ep 1 in a really different light – you can clearly see all the seeds of Rin / Kaede / Asa there right from the beginning.