Ep 18 – “Under the Fir Tree” / “Momi no Ki no Shita de” (もみの木の下で)

Everyone is helping with the Christmas party. While Ryūji’s friends keep giving Yūsaku and Taiga some alone time, Ami compares Ryūji’s relationship with Taiga as akin to a father/daughter relationship, and tells him he should stop it soon. After the final exam, Ryūji helps Taiga send presents to her parents and some lonely children. Taiga recalls when she got to meet Santa, which despite possibly being a dream, gives her hope that someone is always watching over her. Everyone helps put together an artificial Christmas tree topped with a glass star that Taiga brought. Everyone is pleased with their efforts and awed by the sight of the tree lit up. However, a stray softball crashes through the gym window and knocks over the tree, smashing the star. This sends Minori into deep regret and she forces it upon herself to fix the broken star; despite her protests, Ryūji helps her out. The baseball club apologizes and Minori leaves, still declining Ryūji’s offer of going to the party as she feels she would not be welcome after the accident. Despite hearing that, Ryūji promises her that he will wait for her.