Because this really is amazing but well deserved pettiness.
It’s typical of any school to take the credit for the hard work of their students after the fact, having done nothing to help or encourage them and considering how long Shirase has been mocked and laughed at for wanting to go to Antarctica, it’s not surprising she keeps her speech to a short and simple “I’m going”. It’s a wonder she didn’t rub everybody’s faces in it more. But she stays calm, cool and if people don’t understand that this is her rubbing it in how wrong everybody was, that’s fine with her. She knows what she meant and that’s good enough. A far cry from how nervous she’s recording one of the promos for the expedition together with Mari and Yuzuki in literally the next scene. When Yuzuki wonders why Shirase is so nervous but was fine at the assembly, Mari theorises it’s because she can only be confident if she thinks she’s surrounded by enemies and her “screw you” switch gets flipped…
But this episode isn’t really about Shirase or any of the four going to Antarctica. It’s about this girl, Mari’s best friend (only friend?) until she met Shirase: Takahashi Megumi, who’d always been there to support Mari. Throughout the series so far she’d been the voice of caution, tempering Mari whenever she gets a bit too enthusiastic about her plans to go to Antarctica, pointing out how it all might happen. Megumi keeps telling Mari not to get too invested, to not try too hard or it will hurt all the more if she fails again. Her concerns are understandable, considering she’s been Mari’s friend since childhood and always had to support her and until now, she always had to pick up the pieces when Mari failed to go through with what she set out to do (as in the first episode, when she wanted to skip school and ended up going there anyway, because it rained). Yet as Mari’s plans to go to Antarctica became more and more concrete, the less convincing Megumi’s concerns became. She has become more of a wet blanket than she’s helpful. Mari takes her advice at face value, but as a viewer you know there’s clearly something going on with this girl.
Meanwhile take a look at those four, on their way back from the promo that Shirase had so much problems with. Discussing their luggage quota of a hundred kilograms — which includes themselves–, Mari boasts that she can take “upwards of fiftyeight kilos” with her. Which is such bullshit. I couldn’t even ship myself with that quota. In any case, Hinata on the right immediately goes “not with that arm flab, sister” but you can tell it’s all teasing rather than meant seriously. I really like how the series portrays those four, with Hinata and Mari slightly more sarky than the other two, Yuzuki in particular more serious than the other three and Shirase prone to switching between serious and panicing, as said. Even in this screenshot you can see some of their character shine through. As for Mari, she’s clearly more at ease with these three now than she is with her childhood friend, even as she tries to get her involved. There’s a distance between the two that Mari must’ve subconsciously noticed
It all comes to a head on the very morning that Mari leaves for Antarctica, after having her goodbye karaoke with Hinata, Shirase and Megumi, not to mention her farewell diner with her family. When she walks out of the door, Megumi is there, waiting for her. When asked what she wants, Megumi tells her she comes to break up with her. They can no longer be friends and as Mari stares at her uncomprehending, she spells it out for her. She tells her how much of what she warned Mari about she actually spread around, like the rumours about Shirase carrying around a million yen. She tells her how scared she actually is to see her relationship with Mari changed, how she liked being the dependable one but now she no longer had her as a crutch to boost her self esteem. She needs to let go, even if Mari forgives her for her jealousy.
Mari has other ideas.
It’s a brilliant scene, the climax of five episodes of buildup, a real serious spot in a series that’s been mostly light hearted. You can so understand Megumi’s frustration, of seeing somebody who has always been dependent on you go their own way, leaving you behind as they find new friends. Her insecurity and jealousy is nasty, but you can sympathise with her; she’s not a total asshole, just scared of losing her friend and therefore deciding to burn her bridges herself. But Mari has other ideas. She understands where Megumi is coming from and can forgive her for it. In any case, they’ll be away from each other for three months, so any resolution can wait until she’s back…