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“This time, I have to be the one with an answer.”
“This episode in general worked on every level in a way I haven’t yet seen from this show.”
With Hanabi’s hope for a new romance crushed before it even has a chance to bloom, she runs headlong into the arms of Sanae aka Ecchan, because enabling someone with an unhealthy obsession with you always seems like a good idea when you’re emotionally vulnerable. Their inevitably painful roadtrip results some hard truth telling on both sides. To Sanae’s credit, she at least seems to have snapped out of her downward spiral of obsession enough to acknowledge that she needs to end her relationship with Hanabi. Of course, Hanabi can’t make anything easy. On the bright side it leads to the most effective scene of the show thus far.
The representation of the complex web of feelings between these girlfriends was handled very well, far better than it has been in past episodes. In fact, the climax of the Hanabi/Sanae plot might be the best executed scene in the series in terms of emotion, voice acting, lighting, and visuals. This episode in general worked on every level in a way I haven’t yet seen from this show. Their mutual acknowledgement of the harm they’ve caused each other and the catharsis of the moment creates a space for a breakthrough for both young women. Sanae finally finds a way to step back from the abyss and move on. Hanabi sees now how cheaply she treated her friendship with Sanae, and recognizes that she fundamentally can’t accept the idea that someone can seal their heart off from the world.
Who knows if they’ll be able to perfect that casually bittersweet distance required of former lovers turned friends, but it’s clear that Hanabi and Sanae experienced a deeper connection than we previously realized. It may have been possible before to paint Hanabi as merely curious, but after this episode she’s probably begun to realize her own sexuality might be more complex than she thought. This episode offered a great deal of layered character development at just the right time and I really appreciate how the staff attempted to add depth to what has previously been a somewhat flat and uncomfortable portrayal of the relationship between these two women.
In #mocawatch news for this week, Moca only shows up for a hot second but seems fully in control of her destiny. Our former princess now scarfs down her lunch in plain view and doesn’t care who sees her, and then swoops in like a valkyrie of truth and drops an enlightenment bomb on our heartbroken heroine. Who would have thought the most outwardly annoying character of this show would be the most stable and put-together? For her part, Hanabi seems like she might be able to look past her general dislike for Moca and recognize the truth of her advice.
Meanwhile we have a chance to see how Mugi’s efforts to change Akane are going and well…it would appear he’s not doing so hot. In fact, given how he’s dutifully obeying her orders, the Boss monster versus Level 1 Commoner comparison he made last episode seems downright prophetic. For all his youthful ardor, his resolve to change her seems to have been eroded by his desire. Mugi’s relationship with Akane could be showing us what it looks like when you get something you know isn’t good for you: you end up feeling hurt AND stupid. All that said, I have a hard time feeling sorry for Mugi. In fact, I don’t. His “love” for Akane appears to simply be teenage lust for an older woman. To be fair, while I don’t feel sorry for Mugi, I also don’t blame him, either. He’s a teenage boy with a crush on a beautiful older woman who not only makes herself available, but actively seduces him. If Hanabi were in this situation, I have little doubt she’d do anything differently. In fact, who knows if she won’t be similarly tested in the future? We’ll see what the final three episodes have in store.
“Hurry up and get your fever down so we can leave.”
Josh Dunham (@Josh_Dunham)
“I still feel less than satisfied…”
Ecchan again proves that she is the best character of the bunch this week. Her struggle is most sincere of the whole series, and is so well grounded and relatable that it’s heartbreaking. Out of the entire cast, only she has demonstrated the ability to compromise her wants and desires. Granted, she is conniving and manipulative, but she shows regret and a genuine concern for Hanabi; she makes her mistakes all the same, but learns and changes from them. Episode 9 of Scum’s Wish was proof of that.
I still feel less than satisfied given that there are two remaining conflicts to resolve with a potential third on the horizon. I still foresee a pacing issue with only three episodes left of run time. Given that the source material is still being published in Square Enix’s Big Gangan, a cliffhanger go-read-the-manga ending is seeming more and more likely, even if a second season is later announced. This returns to my point from last week, it’s not the characters, but plot points that are the villain. It is for that very reason that the story is in such an awkward position, forced along an unnatural path that feels unsatisfying.
Outside of sexual encounters, the relationships are becoming stale and writ. Inter-character dynamics have boiled down to their most basic elements, a tapestry painted with primary colors and lacking in depth instead of rich hues and realism. As much as I hate to say this, perhaps animation is not the best medium for this story. I have a much easier time imagining the story as a middling live-action drama with flesh-and-blood actors than an animated series that fails to fully utilize the advantages of its medium, plagued by tropes that diminish it’s overall value.