(Spoilers in this review)
Ririko finds out about the true purpose of the traditional Manoyama Dance: it was originally meant to welcome the dragon, yet it ended up causing it die in agony alone instead. Armed with that knowledge, Ririko and Sandal perform the forgotten song that accompanied the Manoyama Dance in order to emphasize that Manoyama originally welcomed outsiders to her stubborn grandmother and the city girls participating in this matchmaking tour. The episode ends with Ririko suggesting that Manoyama could become a town for elopers, which Yoshino supports since it means more people coming to Manoyama.
We received some decent character development for Ririko (she spells out the differences between her and Yoshino and sings in front of company despite struggling to act four episodes ago). There’s also a partial explanation regarding Sandal-san’s presence in Manoyama (his great-grandmother was a Manoyama native) and another one for why Ririko’s grandmother is so against outsiders (her only son married a foreigner woman).
It was a satisfying episode overall (stoic girls finally being honest with feelings tend to be like that), but it also feels like a slight cop-out. What happened to Ririko’s resistance against tradition? It just seemingly disappeared when it came to the Manoyama Song. Then again, does it really count as tradition if the Manoyama locals had forgotten about the song which was preserved in another country thanks to Sandal-san’s great-grandmother?
Maybe Yoshino’s acceptance was what gave Ririko the courage to perform. Either way, I feel like a belief that Ririko held was seemingly twisted in order to give the episode and the mini-arc a happy ending. Bringing in more folks to Manoyama is the only thing that matters, right?
At least Ririko’s grandmother realizes she’s been going against traditional Manoyama beliefs with her stance against outsiders. Perhaps she’ll be less outspoken against the Tourism Board from now on.