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.
WHY MUGI, WHY? Episode 8 of Kuzu no Honkai was a disappointment. Not because it wasn’t good; not because it failed to meet my mediocre quality expectations; but because HANABI NEEDS YOU, MUGI, AND YOU WENT AND FRACKED THAT EVIL BITCH. I don’t know how you felt about Mugi’s betrayal, but I was so happy that Hanabi finally found closure. I just wish that Mugi’s is just a different approach. I highly doubt it.
Atsuya is a very interesting character, but having him opening the episode threw me off balance. I was used to being served the thoughts of characters I knew and could somehow put in this love power play, but Atsuya was new and weird and totally unrelated to the plot. A little bit of incest later, being a cousin to Sanae didn’t change anything, neither did his apathetic behavior. Like all of Kuzu no Honkai’s characters, he is deeply troubled boy who has trouble behaving in a socially accepted way. If nothing else, his major problem is complete honesty. He says exactly what he thinks, and processes everything almost like a computer. If you think Spock, you are right, the characters do have similarities. But we have to remember that everything made by humans is inspired by what we see, hear, feel, smell, etc. Atsuya’s charm comes from the logical processing that he demonstrates in the cafeteria. A train of thought that ultimately focuses on issues of gender and discrimination. Interesting scene, but I still felt it a bit disconnected to the rest of the series.
On the other hand, we have our main dish, the full-stuffed turkey of Kuzu no Honkai: Mugi and Hanabi are going to confess their feelings, get rejected, and then carry on with their lives as a proper couple. The prospect of that happening is amazingly hopeful. Mugi confesses to Hanabi that he can’t imagine her as Akane anymore. AWESOME. Hanabi confesses to herself that she has stopped comparing Mugi to Kanai-sensei. DOUBLE AWESOME. Looove is in the aaair! They start to fall for each other and telltales are all over the place. Mugi’s hug; Hanabi’s blush. Everything smells of roses and Cupid is waiting with his bow and arrow to hit that happy ending.
Maybe I can move forward
The contrast between the two confessions was beautiful. Mugi falls victim of his inability to cope with his feelings. He is fully aware that Akane is ‘a horrible, promiscuous, broken narcissist’ and goes full throttle against her, showering her with all kinds of adjectives and accusations. ‘You never fall in love with anyone, but you’re not satisfied until you’re loved.’ He is aware of the imbalance and the pit he is falling into, but his desire to change her is greater than his promise to Hanabi. People don’t change, no matter how hard shonen manga want us to believe otherwise. They might fluctuate a bit, but real change, the one that comes from the heart is rare. Instead of finding catharsis, it seems like Mugi is throwing himself into a den of lions that are waiting to tear his flesh apart. Unless Akane-sensei surprises us.
On the other hand, Kanai-sensei will wholeheartedly give Hanabi the resolution she so gravely desires. Not forcibly, or in a manipulative way that was pre-planned. Kanai-sensei is considerate of other people’s feelings. He is kind and loving and really cares about Hanabi. ‘I love how you just accept me.’ He is a human being with a heightened sense of empathy, even if he was clueless of Hanabi’s feelings. And confronted with such kindness, Hanabi manages to get in touch with her own feelings and… cries.
My unrequited love ended. I can now move on because I’m not alone.
Will Mugi confirm her hopes? Probably not, but I’m really curious to see how things will unfold in the next episode.
Sex Scene of the Week: The series is not giving me enough juice to fill this VERY IMPORTANT segment of my review. How am I going to keep my readership if the anime doesn’t provide me with the necessary lewdness I need? I don’t know what turned your lights on in this episode, but I have to go with Akane’s breasts. She is one very sexy psychopathic bitch.
Pocky: Those chocolate-coated sticks Mugi and Hanabi had on their desk in the beginning of the episode are probably the most famous Japanese sweets overseas. The fake brand name read PONY, and it refers to Pocky, the Japanese snack food produced by Ezaki Glico. They were first sold in 1966 and from then they conquered the world. The most famous flavors are the original, the almond, and the strawberry coatings.
Fireworks: I have probably mentioned this in many previous reviews, but Hanabi’s name means ‘firework’ in Japanese. That’s the same reason she has a picture of fireworks as an avatar in her text messenger.
NPC: Mugi uses a video game reference to describe his inability to resist Akane-sensei. In Japanese RPGs, like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, NPCs are characters that the player can’t control, Non Player Characters. They are usually merchants, citizens, and secondary characters with no stats or fighting power. Having one of those battle against a boss in the game would result in a massacre, similar to having a bunny fight in an animal arena against a lion.
I don’t know how similar I am to Atsuya-san, but I’m not an easy person to get an emotional response from, part because I seem to care about a few things, and part because I feel like I’ve seen so many things that I have to witness something extraordinary to actually react (and when I mean extraordinary, I mean both good and bad). Mugi managed to have me shout to an imaginary character. Kuzu no Honkai has its faults, but being overly realistic is not one of them. The way things unfolded was surprisingly human, and I loved the contrast between the two confessions.
The pain is just too great. My only concern now is: Will Mugi make it for their 10 p.m. rendezvous? The last scene suggest that he won’t, but there is still hope. Maybe he’ll realize what he’s doing, leave her naked in the room, and leave with her clothes. That would teach her. Or not.
Did you like Episode 8 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.
If you are in Japan, you should also check out this Kuzu no Honkai anime shop that is going to open in Ikebukuro:
NEXT TIME: Beautiful Swimmer