While Shiori drives back with her friends, they find a hitchhiker. Who is it?
From the looks of it, the hitchhiker happens to be Erika. She can’t stand Manoyama anymore and wants to run away from home. The girls take her to their dorms to find out her motives. Apparently, she wants to leave Manoyama for Tokyo and plans on staying in internet cafes. This came as a result of her getting into a heated argument with her mother, Angelica.
We find out the reason why she wants to leave. During a flashback, she resented Manoyama. She does not like the fact that her mother named the shop after her and her brother. Instead, she wants her mother to close the shop and move out of Manoyama. She feels this way because she is afraid of getting old in a town that is emptying out.
It’s understandable why she feels this way since there is not much to do in the town. Because of this, it’s very unlikely an arcade will open up just because a shop in town serves good croquettes. In short, there are less places for teenagers to hang out because most of the social places simply do not exist.
Erika’s desire to move to a city highlights the problem in towns like Manoyama. It’s obvious that the towns people want to keep things at the status quo. They are simply tolerating the efforts Yoshino and her friends are doing.
However, leaving things as they are won’t help anything but continue the decline. We are seeing this not only in Japan, but America as well with the Rust Belt. Retail spaces and malls are shutting own because people are not shopping as they used to. People either don’t have the money or do most of the shopping over the internet.
Of course, there are more reasons besides the shift to online shopping on why towns are declining. They can range from birth rate drop to lack of opportunities due to declining manufacturing and mining. For towns to become successful, they need to reinvent themselves. This is something that Yoshino is trying to do through revitalizing the town. Of course, it will require the town’s people cooperation to make it successful.
It’s obvious that Shiori is concerned about the town she loves. She mentions that she has no intentions of moving out of Manoyama. Still, given what Erika said about the town, it’s obvious that it upsets her. The question is, will Yoshino and her friends convince Erika that it’s not end of the world if she stays. After all, once Erika graduates high school, she can go wherever she wants. Time can only tell. ¶