Something different always strikes me when I watch an episode of this series – some new interesting element that really calls out how deep and profound the emotions at play are here.
This week, I really enjoyed the interaction between Shu and Yoshino. I always do, but it really hit me just how genuinely kind these two are – how they care about each other in a way that transcends any romantic feelings or the confusion they (especially Shu) are dealing with. This was really called out in the restroom scene – Yoshino’s reaction to Shu’s odd confession was a surprisingly tense and suspenseful moment. I really worried that she might flee the scene, put off by his persistence and her own confusion, but the moment was absolutely true to character – she instantly thought of his feelings. Realizing how important the play was to him – how it really represented a love note from him to her – she met his vulnerability with compassion and trust.
Of course the upshot of all this was the exchange of names – a really creative and moving way for these two mixed-up kids to express their love for each other. It makes its way into Shu’s play, of course – with the unfortunate effect of inspiring co-author Saori to offer Shu her own girl’s name to use. Naively he tells her the truth – he’s already exchanged names with Yoshino – but her reaction is surprisingly measured. She reaffirms her feelings for him, admits she can’t force herself to like Yoshino and asks Shu not to discuss Yoshino in her presence. I haven’t really warmed to Saori yet – her love for Shu seems much more possessive and selfish than Yoshino’s. She seems to love Shu the way she might an especially beloved pet.
Another character that really began to flesh out this week was Saisho-sensei. He’s clearly made an enemy of Saori – not a terribly difficult thing to do – and he seems generally clueless about the kids in his charge. But it’s obvious even in his brief screen time that he cares deeply for them and wants to do the best he can for them. That was why he paired off Shu and Saori to write the play, and why he solicited volunteers to help them later. His plans may work out disastrously but they’re always from the heart.
It’s a personal irony that he’s played by Kazuya Nakai because, believe it or not, I was put in mind of Noein watching this week’s episode and Kazuya-san played Karasu on that show. The two series are certainly different but they both do a great job of portraying the interaction of 12-13 year-old kids. And I see a lot of Yuu and Haruka in Shu and Yoshino. While Shu is nowhere near as self-loathing as Yuu was (who is?) they’re both confused and fundamentally lonely, and see in the girl they love their only true lifeline and salvation. Yoshino is everything to Shu as Haruka was to Yuu – the only one who understands and the only one who can soothe the soul when it truly aches.
It’s a great regret that this series is only 11 episodes – what a broken record that is with Noitamina shows lately. There’s so much to be explored here and so much wonderful manga material to adapt.