The Doll that took a Detour (遠まわりする雛Tōmawari Suru Hina) is the twenty-second and the last episode of the series.
The episode begins with Houtarou being awoken very early one holiday morning by none other than Eru. He is asked if he is free the next day, and whether he can help carry the umbrella for the live doll festival in which she plays the Empress. Sounding like a simple job, Houtarou accepts.
Houtarou arrives at the location of the festival after crossing a bridge that will soon be under construction next to a cherry tree that is blossoming out of season. Inside the main building, Houtarou looks lost. The workers inside are ignoring him. One in particular looks at him suspiciously until Houtarou explains who he is, that Eru sent him, and who he is a replacement umbrella holder. Happily, they treat him like an old friend and take him inside, where he sits in the corner in front of a heater while the men and boys behind him are double checking everything. Houtarou feels so out of place here. One old geezer in particular yells a lot and scares Houtarou with his hardass attitude. He takes Houtarou and talks to him and apologizes for burdening outsiders like him. He then bows. Houtarou returns the bow and acts really formal and scared, like he is the bottom-tier worker of a large business suddenly being called to the CEO’s office. The old geezer like what he sees in Houtarou and gives him a warm smile and compliments Houtarou for his good manners. This is the first time that any one has told Houtarou that he has his act together.
The minutes just crawl by while the men in the back double check their lists one more time. Houtarou overhears them talking and hears about how the construction has been confirmed to be delayed. Houtarou speaks up and informs everyone that they have started working on the bridge. The old geezer in charge takes charge and orders some to go check on the bridge. Houtarou finds out that the bridge is important because the procession for the Doll Festival goes right across that very bridge in question and the Doll Festival committee has called ahead to delay the construction. Word comes back almost immediately that they have started working on the bridge. Apparently someone called the construction company and told them to go ahead with the bridge as scheduled, but didn’t leave their name.
The old geezer takes charge again as a huge hubbub starts with some men just talking randomly how this happened at the site as well (the anonymous schedule ruiner) and some scolding the men whose job it was to double check on the bridge construction. They can’t do anything about the bridge now, and there is the TV crew there as well. I assume for the Doll Festival because it would be pretty stupid to film a bridge construction. They’ll just have to find a detour route, says the old geezer. Some suggestions are just walking on one wide of the river, but that would leave the other side alone. Another is to walk the whole way, come back, and then walk on the other side of the bridge, and then returning. But that plan is denied on the grounds that it would force the dolls to walk twice the normal distance. Another humiliating plan was to go half way, return, cross the bridge, and go half away again. A smart looking fellow with orange hair and a confident look about him suggests the Tooji Bridge which is just a little farther, but the dolls will be able to walk on both sides of the river.
While the men are musing over this new suggestion, a female worker comes into the room and asks to see Houtarou. Apparently Eru is calling for him. The old geezer looks like he is judging Houtarou as he is leaving the room. Houtarou is taken to a small room with a huge white cloth in the center. He sits down on one side, on the other Eru is being dressed right now for the festival by attendants. Eru asks Houtarou about the problem that she heard about. Houtarou recalls the whole problem concerning the Choukyuu Bridge and how someone suggested the Tooji Bridge, but when that suggestion was said everyone was hesitant to accept. That’s all that happened, says Eru. She compliments him for how well he summarized the situation. Eru asks Houtarou to deliver a message to everyone. Her message is this: “I’ll ask the other side’s priest, myself. I’ll ask my father to contact the representatives personally, too.”
Houtarou has no idea what Eru means by her message, but the men understand every word of it when he delivers the message. The men sigh a breath of relief and decide to go along with Eru’s proposed plan. It is thus decided that they will head across the Tooji Bridge. The old geezer yells to gets everyone working immediately on the new plans. They all jump up like rabbits that have seen a wolf. Twenty minutes until Showtime and Houtarou is being dressed by the very person who suggested that they cross the Tooji Bridge in the first place. The man gives his reasons for not filling him as Eru’s umbrella holder are simple: He’s too big for the ceremonial clothes and, besides, he wants to be a spectator and it is hard to watch if you are in it. Houtarou is finished getting ready (he looks like a shrine priest) and both he and the confident looking guy both agree that Houtarou looks awful in these clothes.
When the time hits twelve exactly, the women folk come out of the dressing rooms. They look stunning. Irisu is also taking part in the Doll Festival. When Eru comes out last, Houtarou’s breath is taken away and for a while he just openly stares at Eru and she at him. The procession begins and all Houtarou can think about for the first half of the procession is how coming to this festival is a bad, bad, really bad idea. His energy conservation policy is being shattered. For the second half, Houtarou is consumed with a desire to get a look at Eru’s face with all of her make-up on from the front. It is dangerous, Houtarou is curious, curious. He wants to know. He is yearning to look at her. His all-consuming thoughts are abruptly interrupted with Satoshi shouts ‘hi’ to Houtarou from the sidelines where Satoshi and Mayaka are waving at him with a camera in hand.
After the procession is over, Houtarou is sitting with Mayaka and Satoshi while Eru and Irisu do some purification ceremony in the main shrine building. Satoshi jokingly tells Houtarou that he didn’t match his outfit while Eru and Irisu were the most elegant things that he has ever seen. Mayaka chips in and tells Houtarou that he was single-handedly ruining the whole festival. Satoshi then gets up to get more food, leaving Mayaka to thank Houtarou for what he did for Valentine’s Day. He wasn’t expecting to hear a thank you from her, but he looked happy to receive one all the same. Houtarou admits that he got angry and even yelled. Mayaka smiles and says she knows because Satoshi told her. well, things are pretty much normal between Mayaka and Satoshi since Valentine’s Day. Sadly, they aren’t a couple.
Houtarou then walks into the main building where he is greeted by Irisu, who is leaving now. They say hi and bring up the issue with the Choukyuu Bridge. Irisu asks Houtarou his ideas on what happened. He is about to answer her seriously, but then remembering her flair for manipulating others, decides to answer her simply as he doesn’t know. A shame, says Irisu, she thought that he could solve this mystery for everyone here. They share a few more words which end with Irisu smiling at Houtarou and telling him that she wouldn’t lie in this situation with a festival going on and everything.
After the festival banquet for all of the workers involved, Houtarou excuses himself to sit outside in the little courtyard area where he muses. Eru comes walking along and sees him. Suddenly, she is at his feet in her usual curious excitement. Eru tells Houtarou that it was so hard all day, behaving and trying to act as if nothing is wrong. Good job as the doll, says Houtarou. Not that, replies Eru. The Choukyuu Bridge, the construction company; Eru is simply bubbling with her curious energy. Eru had a job to do and was forced to hold in her energy all day. Basically, “You’re curious,” stated Houtarou in a monotone. “Yes!” replies Eru. She is positive that Houtarou has thought about it. Well, says Houtarou, he does have his suspicions about a certain someone. What a coincidence, Eru has her suspicions about someone too.
Eru suggests that they both write down who they think is suspicious on a piece of paper and then reveal their suspicious person to each other at the same time. But there’s no paper, points out Houtarou. Instead they write the suspicious person on their hands. Eru wrote Konari’s son while Houtarou wrote brown haired guy. Eru informs him that they are the same person. So they thought of the same person, amazing. So, why did you suspect him, asks Eru.
First, says Houtarou, they know that someone called the construction company to begin work on the bridge today. That’s right, comments Eru. Then who made the call? Everyone was in a panic, says Houtarou, but there was one person who was working under the assumption that they couldn’t use the Choukyuu Bridge. That person was Konari’s son. Him and Houtarou talked for a bit while they were dressing Houtarou. From him Houtarou learned that this guy came back home to watch the festival procession because you don’t get to see it very often. That’s weird, says Houtarou, because they hold it every year. It wouldn’t be strange to see the festival procession for someone who has grown up in this town. Eru admits that Houtarou’s logic so far has no holes.
This means that something you don’t get to see very often is happening this year. Houtarou asks Eru what that something was. She replies that the route was changed. While she is thinking, Eru suddenly gets what Houtarou was thinking. The out of season blossoming cheery tree which you can only see if you go along the Tooji Bridge route; the view of the dolls walking beneath the blossoming trees is something that you don’t see very often. Eru takes a sharp intake of air as she suddenly realizes that the whole festival was almost ruined for so small a thing. But it’s not that simple, thinks Houtarou while recalling the memory of Eru walking under that very cheery tree. Houtarou was a little too quietly thinking about Eru, which made her almost prod him out of his thoughts.
Houtarou moves with a start and asks Eru why she thought that he was the culprit. That’s because, she says, the only person there who could watch as everyone else lost face was Konari’s son. But now that she has heard Houtarou’s reasons she feels at ease with her guess. What do you mean, asks Houtarou. Apparently Konari’s son hopes to be a photographer in the future. He’s even attending a technical school in Osaka just for that purpose. Eru smiles warmly as she thinks how Konari’s son only wanted to take pictures of something unusual.
Later that evening, Houtarou and Eru are walking down the road. Eru brings up what she said earlier about talking to the other side’s priest herself. Yeah, says Houtarou, everyone stopped panicking after that. it may be a bit boring, but Eru wants to tell him why. Some time ago, this land was divided. The north side was one village’s side while the south side was another village. They often fought over land and water. It’s all history now, but if one side still walks over the imaginary border today without notifying the other side first it can cause a lot of problems. Ah, so that’s why, comments Houtarou in his lazy tone. But as it stood, they didn’t have anyone to ask permission, which was where Eru came into the picture. And that’s why they could enter the other side without worry. A powerful old family, just like Satoshi said, mentions Houtarou. Eru, quietly, wonders about that.
Eru says that Kamiyama’s northern half is a small world. All Eru did was resolve an issue between two halves of a small world. Of course, she doesn’t think of her actions as insignificant, but also she doesn’t see them as having any significance. Even if she enters a university, Eru feels like she has to return to this place. No matter what road she takes in life, she’ll have to return here. Then in a sudden but relative change of topic, Eru asks Houtarou if he is planning on entering the humanities or sciences division next year in school. Houtarou decided to go into humanities. Eru chose the science division. Eru is not sad or disappointed that she has to return here one day, because she has her role as the Chitanda family daughter. She has thought about how she wants to go about doing that her whole life.
She has decided on two methods. The first is to produce the very best crops so every has plenty to eat. The other is to work on the business side with profits to avoid going into the red. In the end, Eru chose the first option, and that is why she chose to enter the science division. Houtarou comments how the second option doesn’t suit her at all. Eru smiles and brings up the time during the Kanya Festival when she went around causing trouble for everyone. She is just not cut out for business.
Eru suddenly stops walking and holds out her hands and tells Houtarou to look at her. she says that this place with the running water and the soil is her place. The people are growing old and tired. She doesn’t think this place is the most beautiful. She also doesn’t see this place as one full of potential. But, Eru says a little quieter but with no less conviction as she turns her head down and to the side, she wanted to show Houtarou this place of hers. By the way, says Houtarou as he looks away from Eru, about the business side, Houtarou wants to know if he can do it for her. Eru’s eyes light with joy and her mouth gaping; speechless, and motionless she stands there as a wave of cheery blossoms flutter down to the ground all around the couple.
“By the way, what?” asks Eru. Houtarou blushes and turns away from Eru. He wonders if this was how Satoshi felt on Valentine’s Day. It’s getting cold, says Houtarou to cover up for the awkward silence. No, replies Eru smiling, it is spring now. A sudden gust blows and the same imaginary vision that Houtarou was having just seconds before comes a reality before his very eyes except that if anything Eru is more beautiful now than in his imagination. The sight is much too strong for him and he looks away blushing; looking down he smiles.