There’s still a feeling of sadness and inevitable change in the air, but I’m damned if I can figure out where Takako-sensei is headed with the story.
Takatsuki is dressing as a girl and auditioning to be a model. Ebina-san is going out on dates. And the ultimate transition, death, touches Nitorin’s life in a seemingly remote but surprisingly personal way. I still have a strong conviction that Takako is sending us a strong message here that things can never again be as they were, and that usually means that the ending is somewhere on the horizon – if not close, at least within out field of vision.
But that’s all a guess, and I really don’t know what she has in mind for our beloved friends when we finally take our leave. The most obvious life-changing moments come for Takatsuki, who puts on one of Chiba’s outfits to attend a modeling audition Anna has set up. And it goes very well – at the audition anyway. Afterwards, a boy hits on her at the grocery store. She demurs and he doesn’t force the issue, but the psychic impact has clearly been felt.
I think the key question here is, just what did Takatsuki feel about this? She’s really been wearing her conflicted emotions on her sleeve lately, and she seems both genuinely pleased and weirded out by the events at the market. I suppose the acid test will be how she responds to the inevitable calback from the agency. None of this is remotely surprising, as Takatsuki is quite stunning when she adopts a female persona. Meanwhile, Chiba is angry about not being asked to go – not because she wasn’t with Takatsuki, but because she wanted to see her latest dress-up doll in her new clothes.
Meanwhile Shuu, having completed his finals, returns to Café Brazil with apologies for having taken time off. But a sad surprise awaits him – the café itself has been closed due to the death of the Ojii-san, the owner’s Grandfather – the man who’d insisted that the “pretty girl” who worked there come back. Naturally Shuu is saddened by this, but the depth of his reaction seems to surprise even the owner herself.
Nitorin is one of the most empathetic characters in anime and manga for me – a beautiful soul whose face Takako imbues with all the kindness and compassion in his heart. So it’s not a stretch to think that (especially as he’s at an age where death is a remote concept, all the more as his own Grandparents are alive) he was simply moved that a man he knew a little had died. But I see more here, and I think this event touched him in a very personal way. It’s screaming to be over-interpreted, but here’s my take…
Shuu remembers Ojii-san holding his hand and saying “A young girl’s skin really is lovely.” For the old man of course it was a recollection of his own lost youth and hands he’d held. But for Nitorin, perhaps the memory indicates that he’s mourning the loss of that young girl himself – the pretty girl he can no longer be as his body slowly changes, whatever he might wish. Maybe he felt a bond between himself and Ojii-san in that moment, and was feeling a sense of loss in more ways than one.
Or that could be completely off-base for all I know. In any case we’ve little to do but wait another interminable month and wish that Hourou Musuko was a weekly series, and to paint our own picture of what the future might hold for Nitorin and Takatsuki.