That was more like it. A good, straightforward “back to basics” episode – something I think this show badly needed. No wheels were reinvented, but there were no shenanigans either – just down-the-middle light drama and comedy consistent with what this show is when it’s working. I wasn’t thrilled that the whole Kou visit turned out to be a troll, but this is a two-cour series – I guess it’s too soon.
It’s all the rage at the moment to compare this show to Mari Okada’s masterwork True Tears (I’m quite comfortable leaving that title there until we see how AnoHana ends) but I frankly don’t see all that many parallels. I suppose it was inevitable that the romance side of the series would increasingly move to the fore, especially with Kou’s arrival on the scene – but where romance was the raison d’etre of True Tears, I don’t expect it to be that way here. This show is really about growing up – Ohana’s growth, to be exact, and I think Kou, Tohru and Minchi are primarily important for how they influence that. That’s not to say that there won’t be romantic development and the show won’t end in a relationship – but I don’t count on it and I don’t think it will be the major focus.
That doesn’t stop it from being the main topic of fan conversation, though. The one disappointment of the ep for me was that Kou’s visit turned out to be a troll, pretty much. What 16 year-old boy has the money to ride JR for hundreds of miles, only to turn around and go home without seeing the girl he came to see? Though his visit ended in disappointment there’s still hope for Kou fans – it was his hair she thought of when she smelled the inside of Tohru’s helmet, after all. Might the new character – Kou’s older co-worker – be put there to prove a test of his love for Kou, much as Tohru is for Ohana?
Ah, Tohru – the explosion of fan-love for him is highly amusing to me, if a bit puzzling. I guess bad boys are always popular – but Tohru has gone viral. I didn’t see a whole lot of romance in Ohana’s quest to find him – I really think she was doing it for the inn, and Grandma. I also don’t see a whole lot of spark between them, especially from her side – though I do think there’s evidence Tohru is interested. If Mari is indeed the one writing these eps, she seems to be doing a good job sending mixed signals to the audience about what’s the come.
Ohana, for her part, is like a better-behaved version of Arashiyama from SoreMachi. She’s a force of nature, a pinball of misguided impulse and adolescent emotional turmoil. She’s also incredibly stubborn and persistent – she seems to have only one speed (fast!) and one direction (forward – until she bounces off something, of course). I simply can’t see her being with Tohru – even if she proved to be interested – knowing what that would do to Minchi. It seems totally contrary to her nature.
If this were a one-cour show I might have a pretty good idea of where things might be headed, but with well over half its run to go I confess I’m pretty baffled. I wouldn’t even be completely shocked if they pulled a Zettai Shounen and moved the second half of the show to the city – with Kou and her mother reintroduced as major characters – and then tied it all together in the end. That’s an extreme example, but not completely unrealistic – and that’s evidence of just how up in the air things still are. One way or the other, Kou and Ohana’s Mom still have major roles to play in this series – that’s one thing I feel totally confident about.