Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
This wasn’t the episode of Kuzu no Honkai that I was expecting. Episode 10 started as a false alarm over a potential 20-minute Akane analysis and turned into a Mugi, Akane, and Kanai game whose repercussions took our favorite sociopathic bitch by surprise. None of them came to a similar realization as Ecchan and Hanabi last week, but we are slowly getting there.
Japanese Title: カラノワレモノ
Mugi’s power play in his newfound relationship with Akane-sensei is eerily familiar to the game that Hanabi tried to play with Takuya, the other student with whom Akane-sensei used to sleep with (coincidence or not, Takuya has a role to play in this episode). Hanabi’s actions had no effect on Takuya for the simple reason that he didn’t care. The only thing he cared about was getting her to a motel. Any attempt to seduce him in any other way was futile. The same applies to Mugi’s relationship with Akane. His reactions are made second to the ones she makes, because Akane doesn’t care about anything but sex. That’s what validates her power over a man. Mugi’s goal is to change the love of his life by making her fall for him, but his actions are not helping him achieve that goal. Akane has the upper hand in this relationship, both psychologically and physically; every sex scene has Akane in direct control, even on how she wishes to be called. Slowly but surely, Mugi realizes that every move his makes is having the opposite result.
I’ll shatter your world
Akane is just putting Mugi on a position that he has to accept his situation. He knows about Kanai-sensei; he knows she is sleeping with other men; he knows that he is being used to feed her cruelty. She plays a distorted version of her true self, a version that is keeping Mugi under her control. On the other hand, when it comes to Kanai, that same role backfires in a way that she couldn’t even predict. Kanai is a doll. His role was more passive until now, but in this episode he takes the reigns and does something so sweet and unforgettable that made me think that there might be hope even for the hopeless.
Kanai seems to be in love with Akane (I know I’m mixing names and surnames here, but that’s the way I feel comfortable calling them). After so many dates that even bitch-sensei (I am watching Koro-sensei Q – expect a review soon) lost count, Kanai seems more interested in her than her body. Akane is flabbergasted by that prospect. What is there to love expect her big boobs and seductive body? But Kanai is not like Akane. Unlike her, he is capable of love, and his interactions with Akane are not about validation. He genuinely has fun around her. The light-heartedness of his feelings lightened the date scenes to the point that even Akane felt a bit sympathetic in my eyes. Her reactions were almost sincere and somewhat funny. Her only goal on every single date was to lead Kanai to a motel and tame him, just like she did with Mugi. The problem is that except for that first time that they slept together, Kanai hasn’t made any moves.
Akane is irritated by his behavior. What could he possibly want? The thing is… Kanai is getting exactly what he wants. He gets a piece of the real Akane, and spends time with her, time that he enjoys. On the other hand, Akane is getting nothing. Without sex, she doesn’t get the validation she desires. So she keeps on going on those dates, to get the sex and have Kanai under her spell. Can you see the problem in this? Akane, possibly for the first time in her life, is pursuing someone. She doesn’t have the upper hand. And that’s enough to horrify her.
I’m sure that Akane would have preferred to break up with Kanai in a way that would have thrown him into her not-so-loving arms. It’s here that Takuya, like a twisted deus-ex-machina, comes to slut-shame Akane in front of Kanai. Maybe he was just a jerk, or maybe he had some other reasons behind his outburst (slut-shaming to feel better about being a slut himself? I don’t know). In the end, it’s that outburst that makes Akane go through a rare moment of honesty. She reveals to the stricken teacher her true nature and walks away. For maybe the first time in the series, I felt that the sociopath showed a hint of sincere emotion, sadness. Was she sad that she had to speak truthfully about herself? Was she sad because she actually felt something for Kanai? Maybe she felt that she was walking away from the only person that enjoying spending time with her without thinking how fast he was going to motorboat his way into her melons. Kanai though, and this is where the sweet part begins, doesn’t care that she’s a sociopath. In my experience, for every sociopath out there, there is a Kanai-like victim ready to be drained from all kindness and love, but maybe that’s just me being pessimistic. Maybe this time, Kanai’s protectiveness (or savior complex) will transform our slut into a princess. Maybe that ‘no’ she utters is a small, tiny, miniscule ray of hope.
At first the implications of Kanai’s hug eluded me. Unlike the other men in her life, Kanai is the only one who has accepted her. Most men just want to sleep with her, and Mugi wants to change her.
This is where the episode shifts back to Mugi. A completely transformed Hanabi gives him one of the most profound advice in the series:
If you want to change somebody, you first need to change yourself
Hanabi is free from that never-ending circle of self-hatred that made her play with the people that needed her. Mugi was still trapped in it, and after a sequence that included Hanabi, Moca, and his own thoughts on sex and relationships, he realizes that the only way to get what he wants is to aim for it: instead of having her body, he should try and have her heart. That’s why he asks her on a date, and that’s why he feels such excitement doing it. Mugi is going after what he really wants. He will either succeed, or fail miserably. Either way, he will eventually be free.
Sex Scene of the Week: Tough call. I have to go for Akane’s flashback, just because she looked so young and innocent.
J-Pop: The popular term J-pop is used to distinguish Japanese popular music from similar foreign music. It’s also a distinct music style that sounds very different from the Korean and American pop that have influenced what we call mainstream pop. J-pop has its roots in traditional Japanese music. In the 60s it was more of a pop-rock style that resembled The Beatles. That sound led to the creation of bands that fused rock with traditional Japanese sounds, all the way to the popular synthpop sounds of Yellow Magic Orchestra.
The anime, manga, and live action series will end at the same time. The series have adapted the entirety of the manga, and as I don’t want to spoil the plot, I’m going to read the manga after the series ends.
As magnificent the last episode was, the epiphany of Hanabi and Ecchan will leave a bittersweet taste if Mugi doesn’t also recognize that he is a fragile person in a world full of fragile people. I don’t expect everyone to be smiling and happy when Kuzu no Honkai ends, but what I want is to see both Mugi and Hanabi free from the shackles they had when this series started. After all, no one really lives ‘happily ever after…’
Did you like Episode 10 of Kuzu no Honkai? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews for Winter 2017.
MANGA.TOKYO is having an otaku poll where we ask you, our amazing readers, on the series you watched this season, and the ones you are waiting for in the new season. You can find the link to the survey in the article below:
NEXT TIME: Gentle God (やさしいかみさま)