Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou – 04
There was a rather lovely, wistful feeling to this episode of Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou. We’re treading on very familiar ground for Shinto fantasy here, but there’s a reason for that – the themes at play here have resonance. I won’t deny that the painting is done in primary colors – subtlety is not the order of the day – but the point is gotten across quite effectively.
There are a couple of very strong scenes that anchored this episode, starting with the arrival of Takenaka and his delinquent “friends” at the apartment house. Something very straightforward is going on here – Takenaka resents Yuushi because he’s playing at being an adult – but Yuushi isn’t playing at anything. He acts the way he does because he can no longer afford a childhood, either emotionally or financially. The gap between what we think we know and what we actually do is never so wide as it is in adolescence, that’s for sure.
After that little dustup, it’s really all about Yuushi getting ready to say goodbye. Akine’s prayer for him is a telling one – that he have a “normal” life. Once again we see anime take on this issue of the gift and curse of being able to see the other side. There’s a strong implication that magic is missing from our lives these days (I think this feeling is very acute in a Japan still deeply wedded to Shintoism) and that when it touches us, we should embrace the fleeting opportunity to touch it back. And this is hammered home all the more acutely when Yuushi arrives at the dorm – the place he’d dreamed of living. Post-fire it’s shiny and new, the food is plentiful – but it feels cold and suffocating. The students (though unsupervised) don’t torture or bully each other, but they are cold to each other. As Yuushi notes, human relationships have become superficial – certainly as compared to the Youkai Apartment house.
I think Wolfe’s old adage is going to be tested, because Yuushi does try to go home again – to the only place that’s felt like a home to him since his parents died – but the sense is that’s a door which once closed, can never be re-opened. Now that Yuushi has crossed over to the “right side” of the divide, is it possible for him to ever go back?
Koi to Uso – 04
Koi to Uso is an odd duck, there’s no question about it. I hadn’t necessarily made the connection, but when a friend compared it to Kuzu no Honkai this week (a comparison I reject for now, for the most part) it did strike me that they share one important trait. That is, you’re always left wondering just what we’re supposed to think of what’s happening on-screen. We’re being show some pretty unpleasant stuff – but what’s the perspective of the series itself? Or is it abdicating that judgment altogether and simply playing the role of provocateur?
Here’s the thing that gives me some hope – namely, something that’s happened twice in the past two weeks. First, just as it popped into my head that this whole “Red String of Science” seems to leave homosexuals in the lurch, Nisaka’s feelings for Yukari were revealed. And now this week, just as I was thinking how it wasn’t cute at all the way Ririna kept insisting that Yukari and Misaki kiss, but in fact weird, Yukari blurted out that he thought it was weird, and she should stop. Is it possible that Koi to Uso gets it – that there’s a core of common sense at the center of all this, and that’s the point?
It’s too early to say that, obviously – but I still don’t think this show is another Kuzu no Honkai. What really strikes me watching this episode is that for all the logical arguments one can make about how the low birth rate has hurt Japan and how arranged marriages have a good track record, trying to tell people who they should be with is just simply wrong. All of this – it’s wrong. The creepy agent who came to “interview” Yukari and Ririna sounded like a pimp, and her arguments were hollow. The parents constantly nudging the kids to hook up is creepy, too. It’s all goddamn creepy. Adults should back the fuck off and let kids figure this stuff out. And the heart wants what it wants. Deal with it.
Ultimately Koi to Uso will indeed be judged in part on just what it’s trying to say about all this, but also in how compellingly it’s able to say it. As I noted last week, Misaki certainly gives off the air of someone with something to hide – the massive hinting this week pretty much confirms that it’s big, whatever it is. Whatever else she does to annoy me, at least Sanada seems to be a basically straightforward person – she says what she thinks, and in that sense she’s probably a better match with Yukari than Takasaki is (though Yuusuke might be a better match than either, if Yukari’s heart ran that way). It would certainly be ironic if the state system actually matched Yukari up with the better partner, but that still wouldn’t justify its existence as far as I’m concerned.