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.
Depending on how your look at it, we either have a case of one or two bad apples in Episode 4 of Kuzu no Honkai. Hanabi is slowly turning into what she hates the most, a selfish scum who takes advantage of other people’s feelings for her own comfort. But how did she come to realize that? She has to thank Minagawa-sensei and her psychopathic charm.
Have you felt the lack of an antagonist during the first 3 episodes? By the end of the episode you probably felt the hate for Minagawa-sensei and, like me, screamed ‘MANIPULATIVE BITCH’ to the screen multiple times. If not, I don’t even want to know what you were thinking. If by any chance you actually felt you could relate to her ‘feelings’, then come over for a coffee; I really want to talk to you. Nevertheless, Minagawa-sensei managed to fill the role of the villain in my head, and I can’t wait to see how this story will play in the future.
Minagawa-sensei is a psychopath. Her only source of pleasure is the sensation, the feeling of being wanted, especially when that affection is taken from someone who is already wanted from someone else. She takes a liking in hurting other people’s feelings by manipulating love.
Others aren’t interested in individuality, but there is no point to anything unless you are wanted. Being wanted just feels so good.
In a very enlightening flashback, we learn that Minagawa-sensei first realized her utter lack of emotions after hurting her best friend’s feelings without any inch of guilt. Instead, the only thing she felt was disgust.
I would rather die than be exploited like her
Her almost narcissistic attitude defines her worldview. ‘It’s not possible to love someone else, besides yourself,’ she says. And everything that happened in the series until now was actually orchestrated by her manipulative desires. The music room meeting was just a ploy so that Hanabi (who is blaming herself for everything) can see her crush confessing his love to this ‘other’ woman who is responsible (and will be at some point) for hurting two of the three people she cares about. Her inability to cry is just the first sign that there is something terribly wrong with the way she feels. She blames herself, again, because in the end it was she who hadn’t confessed to him yet. Not that it makes any sense, but that’s the way she feels and that’s the reason of her despair. In the end, she comes to realize something that applies to most of our protagonists: Most people do not confess their feelings out of fear, fear of rejection, or fear of changing the current situation, most usually ruining their friendship.
I can’t wait to see that look of devastation in your eyes
Despite the gravity of the situation, Hanabi is mature enough to not burden Mugi with what she saw.
Hurting Mugi for my own convenience isn’t a good enough reason to
And for the first time, Hanabi finds herself without comfort. She finds herself helpless and alone and afraid, and she turns to the first person that gives her the attention she needs: Ecchan. It’s not that she doesn’t care about Ecchan; she is her closest friend after all.
Why do you like me so much? Forgive me for not knowing
But the fact remains that Hanabi is masking her true feelings in order to manipulate her friend. She doesn’t need her per se, but what she can siphon out of her. There is a confusion inside her between ‘loving’ and ‘liking’ someone and she won’t come to realize how close she is to becoming what she hates until the end of the episode. Ecchan, on the other hand, also takes advantage of the situation to get whatever she can out of it:
You can’t say no to me because you don’t want to lose me. So of course I will take advantage of your fear. For the cruel things you did to me, if you’ll never be able to fall in love with me, I’ll take whatever I can, even if it’s just warmth
After the sex scene of the week, Hanabi finds herself in the same dark corner: she is alone and cold, ‘I filled my void with Ecchan,’ she says to herself before a visage of her younger self accuses her that ‘today was the first day that you took advantage of someone’s feelings.’ In the end, both she and Minagawa-sensei are scum.
For the first time, we had the chance to look into Kanai-sensei’s mind. Though he feels like he is boring and normal, he is actually weak and the perfect man for a woman like Minagawa-sensei to exploit. He is ‘not one for strong emotions like love or hate’, but he fell strongly in love with that bitch because she reminds him of his… mother. ‘Too good to be true,’ he things, ‘I decided to believe that this was fate.’ It is that decision that makes his eventual heartbreak even more tragic.
Sex Scene of the Week: After such a long plot analysis, I don’t think there are any other scenes to highlight but this. Ecchan and Hanabi’s intimate moment was quite steamy and thus crowned as the ‘sex scene of the week.’ I feel a little bad for Ebato-chan, but I guess that she just had to grab the chance to be with the one she loves, even in this peculiar way. Side note: I wonder how they record these scenes in the studio.
Bad Apple: The expression comes from the English proverb ‘one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.’ It’s used to refer to a person who is not wholesome, honest, or trustworthy, especially one who has an adverse influence on others. Does the description remind you of a certain someone?
Sociopathy and Psychopathy: I am not an expert on the matter, but I have met a few of the type in my life. The official medical term is ‘antisocial personality disorder’ and it encases both unofficial terms, since experts believe that both psychopaths and sociopaths share similar traits. The main trait, which we also observed in Minagawa-sensei, is their inability to sense right from wrong. They lack empathy (the ability to understand how someone feels) and they usually see others as objects they can use for their own benefit. Just like Minagawa-sensei, they are intelligent, charming, and experts in mimicking emotions they don’t have. They pretend to be interested in you, but in reality, they just don’t care about anything else than using you for their own gain.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Kuzu no Honkai is actually a window through which we can peak into the thoughts of others. Sociopathy is a real thing and one that those who are may not realize it and those who aren’t can’t even fathom that such people could exist. It’s not a disease or a disorder, but an alien way of thinking that people with a different moral compass find it difficult to accept. We are quick to label such people as heartless and immoral, and most of the times we are right in our ‘accusations’, but there must be a certain level of understanding done before we rush to condemn their actions. We are naïve if we think that our personal values are ‘better.’ Whether they are more beneficial to the well-being of someone else other than ourselves is another thing, equally important but inherently different.
Episode 4 of Kuzu no Honkai validated its place in the noitamina block with its artistic direction and adequate storytelling. This series is not just sex and steam, and its sensual moments are only there to enhance its deep themes. I wish we get more of Kanai-sensei in the future… He is headed for a really major heartbreak.
Did you like the latest episode of Kuzu no Honkai? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews and the results of our otaku poll, where you, the readers of MANGA.TOKYO decided on your favorite Winter 2017 anime so far!
NEXT TIME: Destruction Baby