Will he regret this?
It’s happened. Kagari has been born, and Kotarou has inadvertently betrayed Guardian by refusing to attack her and leaving. He won’t regret his choice. Well, it’s not like he’ll ever know what the outcome would have otherwise been, but his decision is such an important turning point for the rest of the route. You could say that this is where Terra truly starts. It’s the moment where Terra diverges from all the other routes, because Kagari leaves him alone in return for him choosing to not attack her. That, in turn, means that he never has his arm chopped off, and the cute Kotori hiding in the bushes never runs out to save him by implanting a piece of Kagari’s ribbon into him, thereby giving him Aurora. He never falls into his ten-year coma and has his memories wiped by Guardian as everyone he used to know grows up without him. It’s a significant difference.
There are several things to note here. First, Kotori has been up to a lot since Kotarou left for basic training at Guardian. It was briefly shown in various flashbacks last season that Kotori was the only survivor of a classic Key bus crash involving her parents when she was little – the family trip she went on is precisely the point at which it occurred. It’s only explored in detail in her route, but basically this is the point where she comes across a sentient plant whilst looking for help, and is forcibly tasked with becoming a druid and protecting the Key. That’s why she was near Kagari this episode, and it’s also why she has the power to save Kotarou and turn him into her half-familiar before he slips into a coma. Second, it’s interesting that Kotarou has never made the choice to ignore the Key in the countless other timelines that exist in their multiverse. Either that, or he’s sometimes chosen to do so but then made the wrong case-by-case decision (e.g. Plan X instead of Plan Y) and that got him killed. A good end can only be achieved by lots of correct decisions coincidentally being made one after another, and Terra is all about the timeline in which exactly that happens, aided by Moon Kagari’s subconscious instructions.
Third, it’s only at this point that you realise how much everyone in the common and character routes have been hiding stuff from him. Esaka is one thing, but it’s pretty impressive of Nishikujou and Imamiya to act like they don’t know him at all when they see him in the common route and beyond. Well, Imamiya doesn’t really try, and resorts to mumbling cryptically to himself. Nishikujou does a wonderful job. She’s always been professional, but given her previous relationship as Kotarou’s teammate, her ability to keep a straight face around him is second only to Kotori. I don’t think there’s any more than a handful of lines in any of the non-Terra routes that imply they used to know each other. Nishikujou is also super cute in her Kazamatsuri High girls’ uniform. I know we’ve seen it lots of times before, but for some reason it looks especially nice on her. Like she’s overdressed, but in a cute way. It’s probably the contrast between her stern personality and all the frills. Oh, there’s also Akane. How could I forget? It’s never said outright, but the implication is that she does remember having interacted with Kotarou when she was young. At this age, although she’s mute like Shimako will be, she can still understand the people around her. It’s why she was making annoyed loli noises when Kotarou tried to fool her.
Kotarou needs to get stronger. That’s exactly what his trip into the forest has taught him. It might have been a slightly exaggerated lesson, in that it’s wishful thinking for any individual to defeat the Earth Dragon, let alone a scrub with no combat experience like Mikuni, but it’s true that as he currently is, he won’t be able to protect Kagari from Imamiya, let alone the rest of Guardian and Gaia. And because this is Terra, he won’t even have the benefit of Aurora as Kotori never saved him. What better way to solve that than to head to a ‘private security firm’ in the Middle East and fight some terrorists? I’m so hyped for Jasmine.