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.
Episode 2 of Kuzu no Honkai established all the different love pairs that we will have to deal with for the rest of the season, or at least I hope they did, because they are already too many. Is it really the wish of a scum to be with the one that he longs for more than anything, or is love a little bit more complicated than what we would like it to be?
Japanese Title: そのぬくもりに用がある
Kuzu no Honkai spent a whole episode building on the main theme of the series, love, and the people with whom we will probably spend watching most of the time during the season. We meet Ecchan, Hana’s only female friend with whom she used to spend more time, but people change and circumstances change as well. Ecchan is the quiet but sexy type, a girl who understands her friend’s situation (if only she knew) and cherishes every moment that she spends with her. Her true feelings about Hana come as natural as any other love interest we have on the show, and I for one wasn’t perplexed at the possibility of a lesbian relationship in the show. It felt just like any other high-school romance, and I credit that to the writers. Every line of dialogue could have been used if Hana was a boy instead of a girl, thus making her feelings have a natural quality to them. Love is love, and Ecchan doesn’t question what she feels just because Hana is a girl. And since Ecchan doesn’t, what reason is there for us to do it?
Once you fall for someone, it has to be them
We also meet Moca, Mugi’s childhood family friend who has a not-so-innocent but certainly a bit childish crush on him. Our little princess has an almost comedic quality to how she approaches Mugi. Everything from her nickname to her chicken-stealing abilities scream of a love that she wants to get physical, but is eventually more romantic than erotic. While we could have easily discarded her feelings as a child being possessive about her childhood crush, the scene where she fantasized Mugi kissing her, and her quite mature approach to what her fantasies mean, put her on the map as a character that has more to offer to the show.
It hurts so much, because I end up recreating him in my own mind to fit my needs
If you think about it, Moca is doing in her mind what Hana and Mugi are doing with each other.
The first episode was about two kids finding comfort in one’s another embrace as a substitute for the one they can’t have. Now we have a few more people engaged in the love dynamics which makes things interesting enough to have me make a love diagram that I’m sharing with you in the Highlights section.
Love Dynamics: Since we are getting too many people liking each other, I thought I’d make a diagram. Here it is. Excuse my basic drawing skills.
Karaoke: I love karaoke, but my singing skills are not something I am proud of. I was so relieved to see that the two protagonists were about as tone deaf as I am. It is truly a remarkable thing to be able to empathize through shameful similarities such as being unable to hold a basic melody with your vocal cords.
Sex Scene of the Week: Other shows have the word of the week, tokusatsu series have the monster of the week, and Kuzu no Honkai has the sex scene of the week. I am overeacting a bit, since it’s more erotic than anything else, but ‘stick your tongue out’? Really?
Manga Strips: Hana is probably not the best to give dating advice, but the shallow and almost superficial way that her ‘friends’ are experiencing what they call ‘love’ was highlighted by the delightful manga strips that accompanied their account of the ‘love’ situation they are in.
Piano: Kanai-sensei, I TOTALLY get why you are in love with Minagawa-sensei. Beautiful, smart, and a piano player. She is definitely a catch. Sorry guys, but I am rooting for the grown-ups here. Who do you root for?
The Disappearance of the Fried Chicken: There is no doubt that Moca has her own love issues to take care of, but there is also no doubt that she is probably our comic relief for this season. Her moments of jealousy were seasoned with comedic tidbits that were funny enough to make me giggle, but not funny enough to destroy the almost melancholic mood of the series.
Flashback Pattern: My grandma used to have laces all over her place, and I was surprised to see them adorning the flashback. Except that they were pink, and pink laces are awesome.
Evil Succubus: Noriko (Moca) is comparing Hana to an evil Succubus. If you want to learn a bit more about these creatures, read our review for Episode 3 of Demi-chan wa Kataritai. Christina describes them in depth.
Flashbacks: I’m not a fan of flashbacks. Usually they destroy the flow of a scene, and if they don’t they are just in the way of the narrative. Most often than not, flashbacks are employed because the writers couldn’t incorporate necessary background information inside the narrative. That said, Noriko’s flashback in this episode worked quite well. First, it was introduced right after the opening credits and answered the question we had just before the theme kicked in: Who is this girl? The flashback not only answered that question, but it did so outside the narrative. It addressed the viewer directly, in a subtle and indirect fourth wall breach.
In a world obsessed with love (‘romance’ sales in all mediums are probably experiencing an all-time high) Kuzu no Honkai wants to explore what love really means and if people are actually experiencing the true feeling or something that looks like it but couldn’t be more different. Hana is perplexed by the way her friends approach love. Love is not something you can reason with. Love is not about specks and abilities and points on an imaginary board where the one with the most wins the ‘love’ label. As Ecchan said, ‘Love is not about getting something out of it.’ Everyone, of course, has his own way to feel love and give love and share love. I certainly don’t agree with anyone when it comes to matters of the heart, and I certainly don’t agree with much this show has associated with love in these two episodes. But there is one thing I agree with, and that’s Hana’s reaction to her ‘friends’: If you are not sure if want someone, then you are probably not in love. And if you have to compare stats, then that ‘love’ is probably just a placeholder for ‘lust.’
♬ What is looooooove? Baby don’t hurt meeee. Baby don’t hurt meeeeee. No moooore. ♬
I like the way this show is unfolding. I can’t wait to see which pairs will prevail at the end. Do you have any predictions? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews here on MANGA.TOKYO!
NEXT TIME: Show Me Love (Not a Dream)