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.
In the last episode of the Despair Arc we saw how Ruruka, Izayoi, and Seiko were expelled from High Peak’s Academy. Now that we are back in the future (I love word puns) and we know why their relationship is broken, it’s time to see how their friendship was formed in the first place.
In terms of storytelling, the combination of the last Despair and Future Arc episodes gave us the most complete character story so far.
Kimura Seiko was always a kind, quiet girl, ashamed of her bracers. Back when she was a child, she tried to save two puppies that were run over by a car. Her medicine was able to save one of the pair, a feat that impressed a little girl that happened to see the incident: Ruruka, accompanied by Izayoi (that man must really love Ruruka and her sweets). They immediately became friends, fulfilling for both a sentimental hole they didn’t know they had. Friendship is always like that. It comes when you least expect it and when it goes it leaves a hole you never felt was there in the first place. I was sure that there must have been a reason Seiko couldn’t eat Ruruka’s sweets. She has an illness that prohibits her from eating sugar. Oh well, there are worse things out there. During the flashback, we learn that Ruruka took advantage of that friendship by constantly asking things of Seiko without giving back anything. Ruruka is still mad that Seiko couldn’t acknowledge her talent even though she knew that if she had eaten any of her sweets she would have died. The whole ‘taking advantage’ storyline blends well with Seiko’s forbidden move: she can’t let anyone step onto her shadow. She had let Ruruka step on their friendship so many times that this is clearly a metaphor and a silent tribute to the state of their relationship. In the most emotional scene in the series after Yukizome’s death, both Seiko and Ruruka are expressing their feelings in two distinct internal monologues happening at the same time and coming to the same conclusion: when did their friendship go wrong? Even though their characters are very different, their trust and love for each other was there even at the very last moment (more on that in a while). If only they had the courage to confess their feelings to each other. If only it was that easy. In true narrative fashion, the episode ends in the same way it started. As the timer comes to an end (and the hunter will have the chance to choose his next victim) Seiko is holding a sweet in her hand: in a continuation of the first scene, we see that Ruruka gave it to her that day they first met. They say that when you die you see your whole life passing in front of your eyes like a flashback. I wonder if that’s true.
There is another scene that needs to be discussed, and that’s the one with the final moments of Kazuo. Munakata and Kazuo are still discussing the implications of Munakata’s ambitions. When Munakata accuses him of being the hunter, Kazuo is adamant not only that he isn’t but that he also knows the hunter’s identity. As he tells Munakata the name of the hunter in a silent scene where we see Kazuo’s lips moving (any lip-readers out there) he also reveals his forbidden move: Kazuo can’t answer a question with a lie.
“Is that a question? If it is a question then I must answer” Kazuo
The main theme of the episode was the implications of an imperfect friendship, tainted by personal issues and misguided assumptions. Seiko wanted a friend so much that she allowed Ruruko to step on her countless times, while Ruruko wanted so much for Seiko to acknowledge her that she refused to open up her feelings to her. Assumption over assumption, their friendship was poisoned by lies. And there is always a point of no return, a point you can’t do anything else but accept things as they are, no matter how much they hurt.
Another great opening scene that made the connection to the present seem plausible and interesting. Even though the intro always blended nicely with the opening theme, this time it was the emotional weight of the story that gave it a special significance. I found myself eagerly waiting to see how Seiko’s story was going to play.
Lots of blood in this episode. Munakata loses his eye and Kazuo loses his life. I wonder why they didn’t keep the trademark pink blood of the games since they use it in the Despair Arc.
If you count out the two main events of the episode, the rest of the gang haven’t had the chance to do much. Except that Izayoi found a secret door. That was kind of important. I guess.
This was my favorite episode. Seiko’s story was by far the one I identified the most and her relationship with Ruruka wasn’t far-fetched. Connecting the events with the Despair Arc made the episode that much enjoyable, and now I am eagerly waiting to see if Munakata is going to head straight for the Hunter.
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