Kuragehime – 10

“Mama, why is this person so beautiful?”

I can’t really find anything negative to say about this wonderful episode, or this wonderful series. If I sound like I’m gushing it’s because I am – that’s how much I love these characters. If I have to come up with a downside it’s this – I wish it were going to be longer. There’s so much more to discover with these complex, endearing people that one more episode can hardly scratch the surface.

Fundamentally this show boils down to three people – Kuranosuke, Shu and Tsukimi. The Amars (especially Chieko) have proved excellent supporting characters and risen above the level of comic relief, and Inari is an important catalyst and interesting in her own right. But it’s rare to see characters as layered and fascinating as those three. They’re flawed, fallible but generally just good people and I really care about each of them.

My favorite moment of the episode was when Tsukimi uttered the line that starts this review while cutting the fabric around Kuranosuke. She still doesn’t know he carried her to bed, and she still doesn’t appear to acknowledge overtly romantic thoughts about him. But she’s noticing Kura more and more – not just his physical beauty but his relentless determination to do what he thinks is right. Even Tsukimi and the Amars are caught up in Kura’s infectious enthusiasm this time – spending an all-nighter making Tsukimi’s vision of a Flower Hat Jelly dress come to life. Riding Tsukimi’s vision, Chieko’s mad sewing skills, Jiji’s… something, and Kura”s mother’s 3 million yen pearls they create something truly wondrous. And Kura looks truly beautiful wearing it.

Meanwhile, Shu – poor, damaged Shu – continues to be caught in Inari’s web of deceit. Playing the guilt/hard to get combination card, she has Shu calling her constantly and inadvertently convinces him she’s attempting suicide. Drunk, she plays up the gag – staging a scene with a bottle of vitamins for Shu when he bursts into her apartment. To her, it’s a lark – but for him, it’s the last straw – he slaps her and gently punches her before silently tearing up and leaving her apartment for his exile overseas. During all this Amamizu-kan has been empty (bar the mangaka) all night, with the dress making at Kuranosuke’s house and Banba and Mayaya partying in Chinatown with Kura’s money. When they arrive home, scaffolding has been placed around Amamizu-kan…

As beautiful and gentle as the moment Tsukimi uttered her line was, the scene in Inari’s apartment was brutal and heartbreaking. Inari still sees this as a game – perhaps Shu fascinates her more as a virgin, but it’s all a conquest and a laugh. For Shu, this is his life and he just can’t understand why Inari continues to torture him. Shu, I think, is a very simple person – direct, honest, hardworking and a slave to propriety. It would never occur to him to manipulate someone’s feelings the way Inari does to him, and it seems he reached a breaking point at last and fled in defeat. Perhaps now the poor, sweet guy realizes that there’s nothing to be gained in being solicitous of Inari – his chivalry is lost on her.

Meanwhile, Kuranosuke and Tsukimi creep ever closer – yet still so far – towards a real relationship. For all his confidence and cheerfulness it’s clear Kura is still scarred by the loss of his mother. He still doesn’t know who he is or even who he wants to be – yet Tsukimi is the first thing he’s been sure about since his mother was in his life. For her, Kura is just another complication – as she says, a “lukewarm life” is just fine. But she doesn’t mean that – she just can’t rationalize her feelings for Shu and Kuranosuke. In many ways the loss of her mother is almost easier for Tsukimi than Kura – she, at least, has certainty and knows that her mother loved her to the end. Kura must deal with the fact that his mother was forcefully separated and hidden from him, and he has no closure in his life as a result. What comes next for Tsukimi and Kura is hard to say, but with only one episode left it can be but a hint of what their futures might hold – there’s simply too much possibility built up to resolve things neatly.

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