WA2 continues to be a romance anime with a difference, though for me that difference was a little blurrier this week. Admittedly part of that is the very high standard the series has already set for dignity and subtlety, with only occasional lapses into conventional tricks of the trade. That hasn’t fundamentally changed for me, though I thought those lapses were a little more obvious this week. What also hasn’t changed is the tendency for the second acts of episodes to be better than first, which does an admirable job of stoking anticipation for the episode to come.
The first half of the episode was pretty much all about Setsuna (which name we use is very important in context for this show, as is so often the case in Japan), a development which was pretty much set up by the way last week’s episode ended. She’s been a bit of a third wheel over the last couple of episodes as the focus shifted to Touma, though given that Touma wasn’t a wheel at all for the first two that’s not unexpected. Setsuna’s M.O. was pretty well-established – popular, pretty and insecure – though the extent to which she was unhinged by that travel toothbrush might have been a little more explosive than expected.
Setsuna’s behavior this week could be looked at a couple of different ways, I suppose. I can’t deny that it was refreshingly direct compared to what we see in many anime – to a point. What she wants is obvious to me and I suspect everyone else (whether than includes Haruki I concede is still disputable) but her honesty didn’t carry so far as to openly admit it. No, she couched her breakdown in terms of friendship and betrayal – and as far as that goes, I’m sure it was legitimate, as it sounds like she got rocked pretty hard by typical middle-school treachery on the part of her friends.
I’m torn, because I feel as if I should be applauding Setsuna for coming right out and telling first Touma and then (sort of) Haruki what was bothering her. But I’d be lying if said I didn’t find her behavior a bit off-putting – basically demanding to be loved and even insisting that Haruki call her by her given name, but not having the grit to come right out and say that what bothered her just as much as being excluded was the idea that Haruki and Touma might have feelings for each other. Asking for sympathy outright is never a good idea, it seems to be – like respect it must be given freely, not demanded. In saying all this I freely acknowledge both that she has reason to be sensitive, given her background, and that Touma and Haruki should have told her up-front that he was staying over at her house.
The irony in question for me was when Touma told Setsuna, “Well, everything seems to have worked out so there’s no problem.” Certainly that’s an invitation for big trouble, and we know that’s coming. Haruki’s true romantic inclinations are still open to debate, but not the fact that both Touma and Setsuna have feelings for him, and my read on it at the moment is that Touma has convinced herself that she’s already lost – indeed, that Haruki could never have been interested in the first place when Setsuna is the other option – and that Haruki feels more of a spark with Touma than with Setsuna.
Hovering over all this is the mysterious notebook that Takeya gave Touma with the admonition to “make his real dream come true”. It seems that she’s been working herself to exhaustion (it’s not as though she needs to rehearse two pop songs for the concert) trying to do just that – and it seems to involve composing something herself. Clearly Touma places a great deal of importance on this, as witness her outburst at her teacher for confiscating the notebook – though just what this dream is remains a mystery. I could have done without the cliffhanger ending – I can say honestly that all through high school and college I never had a friend pass out in school be it to to a cold, or overwork, or anything else. It feels like stock anime drama, and there’s enough fuel in the interesting three-way relationship (and Takeya’s interesting role is not to be dismissed) that I’d just as soon not see it have to compete with the usual background noise. Hopefully this is a momentary lapse of reason, and whatever’s going on with Touma’s collapse is forgotten by the eyecatch next week.