Subtlety and understatement pretty much went out the window in this week’s ep of Mashiroiro Symphony. Cute kittens abandoned, angelic Miu working herself to collapse – Manglobe pretty much went straight for the hard stuff.
I don’t know id ever seen a kitten flag in a romance before, but we definitely had one this week. When two abandoned kittens end up in the care of the Nuko Club, the black one will only answer to Shingo, and the white one only to Miu. Coincidence? I don’t need to repeat myself about coincidences in anime, do I? And this episode was generally set up as the Shingo x Miu flag episode. In addition to the kittens there was Shingo warming Miu by draping his coat over her, there was Shingo and Miu both giving the same answer when Sana asked what each though of the other, and there was even the answer Sana gave to her own question – “Shingo is someone I want to be happy”.
But there’s a grave danger here, for Miu and all of us who love her. In romance anime, one of the worst sins a love rival can commit is to peak too early. We’re only at episode 8, and it’s looking as if the Shingo/Miu arc may climax next week. Meanwhile, Airi (who’s perfectly nice in her own right) sits quietly off to the side, waiting for her opportunity to pounce and consume the last three episodes. So I’m still a Miu-skeptic, though I’m certainly pulling for her. If anything she may too selfless – she seems to genuinely have no self-regard whatsoever, even sleeping in the clubroom to watch the kittens. She even lets the new animals (even Pannya) nibble on her fingers until they bleed until they’re comfortable with her. After Shingo had been uncharacteristically severe in insisting she go home and let them check up on the kittens, she took a call from her job and went in to cover a shift. Fortunately, Shingo went after her and caught her when was about to pass out from exhaustion.
Meanwhile, the mystery of just what Pannya is deepens. It’s decided that the Nuko Club can’t keep the kittens because their role is to rehabilitate and release wild animals, not domestic pets. But doesn’t that imply that Pannya is not herself a cat, but a wild animal? And about that “herself” thing, I’d read in multiple sources that Pannya was a girl. But in Sana’s flashback to when she first met Miu – when Miu was also first meeting Pannya – she refers to Pannya as “he” and “this guy”. Maybe she just didn’t check under the hood, or is Pannya really a male? Whatever it is, Pannya certainly took a protective role with the kittens, sharing a bed with them and even letting them knead her when they were hungry for milk. The best part about that scene, though, was Shingo’s reaction when Miu said that she was sad she couldn’t use her own breasts to feed the kittens. Hodor!
The more I watch this series the more convinced I am that, in terms of romantic compatibility, Miu and Shingo really are the best-suited couple. Unless you’re a believer in “opposites attract” – and I’m generally not – the two of them seem totally in synch. They’re calm, serene, slow to panic or anger and innately considerate of others. Frankly, they both might just be too nice for anybody else but each other. That doesn’t mean I’m still not betting on Airi, though I think that relationship will end up being a little more fiery. As for the ep itself, it wasn’t one of my favorites because the tugging on the heartstrings was so much more blatant than what I’m used to with this series, which is at its best when it’s low-key and soft-sells the emotional manipulation. But I won’t deny I felt what I was supposed to feel, and after so much restraint over the first seven eps I can certainly live with a little bit of indulgence in the eighth.