It’s no secret that Ore Monogatari!! is at its best when it’s bittersweet, because the rest of the time it’s merely sweet. I love desserts, but any dish that can offer complexity and subtlety of flavor is always going to be more interesting that one that’s one note – no matter how pleasant that note is. This series isn’t able to achieve that as often as the best of them – I think maybe three or four times out of nineteen it’s been truly at its finest – but when it does, it’s as good as any series airing.
If I had to peg it, I’d say the two-parter featuring Suna’s father was my favorite of the series thus far. This one was pretty darn close, and it’s easy to focus on the most obvious reason, that being that it again featured parents in a major role – and Takeo’s parents are really wonderful characters. But there’s more to it than that. Every character in the cast really shone, and that includes Takeo and Rinko, who – likeable as they are – aren’t usually the most interesting people on screen.
I would say, in fact, that this was my favorite Takeo episode. All of his particular qualities were really at their best here as he worried over his mother, who would have none of it. Takeo’s straightforward nobility can get rather flat when it’s showcased in romantic situations, but as a son frantically trying to over-protect a freakishly strong mother it’s rather poignant. It’s funny that Yuriko-san says she still thinks of Takeo as a little boy, because he very much is despite his ridiculous size and strength – yet he’s at the point where taking care of his mother becomes a quite natural inclination for most boys.
Takeo’s friends come off really well in this episode too, of course. It’s no surprise, because they’re as loyal and stalwart as the White Cliffs of Dover. But while we’re used to seeing Suna always knowing how to do the right thing and keep his head, Rinko is quite winning in her fascination with childbirth and motherhood. And we found it she was a preemie of less than 2000 grams at birth, no more surprising than that Takeo was a “Yokozuna” (“What’s “The Lion King”?”) at 4200 grams. Poor Yuriko-san.
Ah, Yuriko-san – talk about stalwart. She’s a great anime mom, strong as a bull and salty as a can of anchovies. She serially takes care of other people, which was what made Yutaka-san fall for her in the first place (after a rather ugly izakaya mishap). I loved the scene where Yutaka told his son how he came to love Yuriko, and it’s clear he’s very much at peace with who his wife is. She lands herself in the hospital prematurely because she’s up to her old tricks, straining herself helping a fellow expectant mother who’s nowhere near as strong as she is. And it turns out not even Yuriko is indestructible – though she strains herself never to look weak in front of her son, no matter how dire her situation.
I was pretty worried after Yuriko have Takeo that speech about how not every baby has the chance to grow up, but Ore Monogatari fooled me with Suna’s dad, too. I like the way that angle was used anyway, as a way for Takeo to grow up a little through thinking about the harsh reality of life. Gouda-san comes through fine, true to herself right up to the end in refusing to take a wheelchair when her roommate was also going into labor (because, you know, Japanese hospitals only have one wheelchair) and forcing (allowing) Takeo to carry her. And she pops out a girl almost as big as Takeo was. We’ll see how the big brother role works dramatically for Takeo as a character – I kind of hope it’s closer to the son than the boyfriend.