Random Curiosity

« Kuzu no Honkai – 11

Kuzu no Honkai – 12 (END)

「(2人のストーリー」 (2-Ri no sutourī)
“Two Stories”

And with that it’s over. Kuzu’s finale certainly was a low key affair, passing off any further conflict or drama for a period of tranquil self-reflection. Every character surprisingly showed up—if only for a moment—from a proud and graceful Moka to a short haired Sanae and a noticeably tempered Akane. After all the pain and struggle for the cast to reach this point, I think it was a well-deserved glimpse into the relief and happiness coming from the various resolutions reached over the course of the show.

The stars this week though were of course Hanabi and Mugi, who did actually decide—mutually—to let their relationship go. Some may think it strange, but personally I found this bittersweet ending a fitting conclusion for both characters. As Hanabi reflected on, her relationship with Mugi was originally one of “need”. Both characters were initially lost and adrift, uncertain what they wanted, let alone how to obtain it. Their chance meeting and discovery of similar situations conceived of a synergistic relationship, where mutual loneliness, longing, and a desire for comfort were patched over through roleplay; both craved physical attachment, and their relationship provided that. Naturally such a setup does not account for change, so when Hanabi and Mugi grew as characters, the reason for their relationship came into question. Having found what they wanted, there was no more need for the roleplay, or even to stay lovers. That storage room chat between them showcased this best, where free from fantasy both simply talked, no longer needing the comfort of each other’s touch. While still hard and painful letting go, with their relationship having served its purpose, both Hanabi and Mugi ended things to focus on their new desires. For our two main characters, it’s no longer about the past, it’s about the future they wish to have.

Given Kuzu’s such dark beginnings, it’s hard asking for a happier ending.

Final Impressions

When I came into Kuzu I was under no illusions about the material. This show reveled in provocativeness, whether that be the selfish side of relationships or the graphic—yet realistic—sex scenes. Personally I started watching more out of curiosity than interest, wanting to know just how far the show would take these aspects, and if a breaking point existed.

Instead of running off the rails, however, Kuzu surprised me with how well it used its premise. The darkness/corruption here always served a purpose, both structuring Kuzu’s various relationships and providing the foundation for solving their various intricacies. By flipping the traditional romance approach to desire (i.e. from a positive direction) on its head, Kuzu created a novel environment to explore personal change and its impact on love. Hanabi and Mugi of course are the primary example, where both began by desiring the impossible and came together initially for mutual comfort. Through their interactions, Hanabi and Mugi learned how to handle their desire and the accompanying loneliness, along with feeling out their true desires. For Hanabi in particular this was important given she had no previous experience with love, nor an understanding of what she actually wanted. The pain of her longing stimulated the change necessary for her growth as a character.

This does not imply all was good, however; it is arguable that Kuzu indulged too heavily in the darkness at times. Akane and Sanae of course are the main culprits, drawing the most contention due to their personalities. Although both proved necessary for seeing Hanabi’s growth and change through to the end, actions taken by them were noticeably divisive at times. Sanae’s arc for example invited a lot of discussion on “using” others, with Sanae’s initial aggressive actions off putting for some due to their blatancy. While Sanae later grew out of her “lust” phase—and offered a powerful image of strength in the face of failed love—it’s possible that Kuzu could have toned her down while still producing the same result. Akane too was unabashed in her behaviour, although the confusion and disgust here rested more with Narumi’s actions than with Akane herself. If anything the inclusion of Akane and Sanae both show just how effective Kuzu’s premise was by generating so much discussion. Both characters were provocative in some capacity, but both possessed poignant and realistic development deviating from the usual norm. Hell Moka ended up being one of my favourite arcs just for the realizations and development she experienced.

While certainly not the best that romance has to offer, Kuzu for me provided a unique experience which exemplified just how messy and irrational love can be. Every crush and relationship isn’t like Ore Monogatari, every misconception and misunderstanding isn’t always simple or easily fixed. Sadness and pain are persistent companions whenever desire is involved, for someone will always draw the short end of the stick. Having a show willing to plumb these depths is a welcome experience and a refreshing break from the Masamunes of the world. I might have had my doubts initially regarding Kuzu’s potential, but this show pleasantly proved me wrong and gave me a show I’m happy to have blogged. Lots of words were said, I definitely came to a wrong conclusion or two, but damn was it ever a fun ride. Here’s to hoping we can see similar romance series like this in the not too distant future.

March 31, 2017 at 10:10 am
23 comments »
  • March 31, 2017 at 11:54 amSyaoran Li

    Dissapoinment all around this season. Anyway, I guess the series wasn’t my cup of tea.

  • March 31, 2017 at 12:17 pmShaily

    You explained it in a way I wanted. You did a good work. I’m not used to see watching depressing animes and I agree that this anime felt too depressing at times. But some emotions of the characters, their feelings hits home and seem realistic. The last episode felt exactly like spring where everyone had matured from their previous selves and were beginning a new chapter in their lives. I personally wanted Mugi and Hanabi to be together but even I knew that would be forced at this point. The last scene where they part (with a tear on Hanabi’s face) alongwith that ending tore me. T.T but this anime was a fresh breath of air. The author did a good job of portraying the dark aspect of love.

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:15 amPancakes

      The realism is what made this show for me. We don’t often see romance with realistic actions or a lack of drama because it’s not “stylish” enough. This type of story requires an open mind and willingness to look into the abyss per say, but if you can learn a lot by doing so. Really hope we can see more shows like this.

  • March 31, 2017 at 12:44 pmMentar

    This show is very different to most other romance/drama type of stories, and consequently, in order to judge it fairly, it needs to be considered differently from the run-of-the-mill standard.

    Its overarching premise is “Unrequited love”. People fall in love with others, but their feelings are not reciprocated. We see the characters hope and despair, persevere and suffer, try and fail. This is no string of happy occasions, where justice wins, villains lose and the story ends in celebration. If you watch the show, be aware of that and be ready for an _ordeal_. This is no light entertainment, this is a masochistic marathon leaving you drained.

    For those however, who are willing to invest the time and are not scared of emotional bruises, this show is a total treat. The direction and technical execution is fantastic, the soundtrack exceptional, the art very nice and the storytelling exemplary. Romance drama is usually a string of corny, cliche-ridden scenes which follows a predictable path. Kuzu no Honkai is anything but. Once the introduction of all characters is completed around episode 6, I daresay that no single unspoiled viewer would be able to predict how the show was going to end.

    I always want to add that viewers who already had own life experiences with unrequited romances will be able to connect much better with the show’s characters. Myself, I could see traces of three characters in me. Those people who criticized the show the most had no experiences of their own to gauge the show’s characters against.

    So, if you are primarily looking for a story with typical characters going through the romance/drama motions in the typical drama arc hoping for the typical happy ending, Kuzu no Honkai does not only not deliver, it betrays these expectations. If on the other hand you want to see a character study of various forms of unrequited love, what people think, and why they do what they do, as ugly as it may be, this show will be a fantastic experience. Very instructive, very touching at times, and extremely unusual.

    Coming with my highest recommendations.

    9/10

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:23 amPancakes

      Definitely agreed with you on personal experience Mentar, I think to get the most out of this you need that, or at least good knowledge. Kuzu’s premise in a sense requires empathy to get the most out of it. For example unless one has come across an Akane before, it can be difficult understanding where she comes from and what she wants, let alone why. Without that experience, the intricacies of her character are lost, and from there the importance of Narumi and his actions.

      Really is a show that runs deeper than some are led to believe.

  • March 31, 2017 at 1:06 pmKiraboshi

    I liked Kuzu no Honkai a lot. Hanabi developed into such an amazing character, and even though I wanted her to find happiness the ending still gives hope to her even though her and Mugi decided to go their separate ways. As soon as Mugi confessed he will never forget Akane I knew he and Hanabi wouldn’t be together. If he chose Hanabi straight after that it almost seems like he is using her again for comfort and Hanabi deserves better than that.

    I am a bit disappointed in the anime version of the storage room scene though. In the manag they made it more emotional and it almost made me think that they do love each other. But in this anime Mugi’s voice sounded emotionless so his feelings towards Hanabi sounded very stale whereas in the manga you can genuinely tell he still wanted to be with her.

    Can’t wait for the bonus chapter in the manga! Hanabi deserves a great happy ending!

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:10 amPancakes

      Huh that’s interesting, if Mugi was that emotional here it would definitely have been more painful. Would have also been a great way of showing Mugi realized his mistake of trying with Akane. I’m guessing they wanted to focus on Hanabi though given how much screen time Mugi had the past two weeks.

  • March 31, 2017 at 4:58 pmShirocat

    I’m really happy about ending. It wouldn’t be healthy for Hanabi and Mugi to end together. It’s good that they were mature enough to see it and try instead to look for sth new. I even like to imagine that Hanabi will end with that new guy who was interrupted by Sanae.
    btw. I was kind of confused by timeline. Hanabi met Sanae around festival time – she has cut her hair and then they has shown dance and Sanae’s long hair is back.

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:07 amPancakes

      I think that scene was actually flashback designed to show Sanae thinking about her cousin. Agreed though, it was definitely confusing because it meshed a little too well with the surrounding scenes.

  • March 31, 2017 at 5:26 pmAshifili

    It felt nice to see every character begin to broaden their worlds.

    It felt like a punch in the stomach when I realized there would be no continuation.

    Damn.

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:04 amPancakes

      IMO it would be hard continuing this series on. Kuzu told its story, its characters learned a lot from their experiences, anything extra would just be entering typical romance territory. Better a bittersweet ending than a underwhelming ending.

    • April 1, 2017 at 1:33 pmKiraboshi

      There will be a bonus chapter next months though in the manga. Really hoping Hanabi and Mugi found happiness there :)

  • March 31, 2017 at 7:09 pmonion warrior

    “I want to hold you forever.”
    “I dont want to let go.”
    “But goodbye.”

    Finally, we have reached its destination. As much as i have my love-and-hate turmoils, KnH is something like waiting for the storm to end. After all the heart-wrenching-slut-calling-man-whoring-haters-gonna-hate kinda phases, its finally over.

    KnH was something i had my eyes on after watching the Winter’s lineup, despite all the vibrant and “promising” series in the list, i saw KnH in the midst of the clutters for about 15 seconds and no further trailer. So when i watched the first episode during its premiere, boy oh boy it was brazing hot man. i mean like, just wow. Then we were teased with rivalries and anger along the run and all the idiot confusions. So the love has turned into hatred weeks after weeks with massive facepalmings and all. And just when you thought of giving up, you knew this series has become some kind of masochist’s playtoy (just like how you cannot stop watching that bloodpumping annoying dramas on tv); before you knew it, theres no turning back.

    So after 12 weeks and 12 episodes, just when you think you had enough, goodbyes are never easy. I have loved you for 12 episodes, now i have to bid my farewell after tonight. Hanabi was something i enjoyed empathizing with. The soundtracks were incredibly hypnotic and visuals were stunning. Characters were written “with less sense of pride and respect” but theres nothing you can do when you’ve fallen madly in love with someone. Everyone in this series was “greedy” of love and instead of respecting the weight of someone’s love, they treated them irresponsibly. Thats why they were scums to begin with. What i cannot seems to understand was everyone’s logic behind the definition of “love” in this anime: what they crave wasnt love, it was lust. Love is something greater than the “eros” your heart ached for. They were possessive, selfish and egoistic. In the end, what they found wasnt love at all, it was the sense of “imprisoning” or holding captive of someone IN the name of “love”. They believed it was love, but it was just for the sense of dominance and dependency. It was all about you/them in the end of it all – loving only for the sake of yourself. My point is always be: seek love within yourself because it is never far, because if you never learn how to love and respect yourself to begin with, you will rely on someone else to give you that self-worth without even understanding the genuine meaning of love itself at all.

    Ehem. Anyways, its always good to watch somethin totally different this time, unlike the cliches. I am greatly satisfied with the ending. As much as i want them to be, they just couldnt make it to love. And this is the perfect choice everyone in this show have taken.

    Move on, go forward. This is just the early stage of your life, dont worry. Winter has finally come to an end, and after Showa Genroku i think KnH is the next best endings of the season this year. Great work and hands down to Lerche studio for making everything possible. ^3^

    Thank you Hanabi for the spectacular fireworks. :)

  • March 31, 2017 at 8:24 pmMiuna

    Am I the one who was hoping Mugi and Hanabi would’ve ended up together? I kind of thought they would’ve, because they eventually developed actual feelings for eachother instead of just comforting eachother.. Cause usially when you spend more time with someone you become more attached, or so I thought..

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:01 amPancakes

      Far from it :P, plenty of people were expecting it from what I’ve read.
      The end here though makes sense to me because the reason behind their relationship is over, and Mugi took that protracted “break” with Akane. The time spent apart is more than enough for both to grow distant and seek something else.

      Yeah it’s sad compared to other romance stories, but compared to where Kuzu started, it’s a happy ending.

  • March 31, 2017 at 9:07 pmTopboy

    What I like about this anime :
    1.I like OP
    2.I like the complex relationships
    3.I like that the story hard to guess what will happen next.
    4.I like how the story goes.
    5.I even like how it end.

    Life is like this. Sometime it work out. Sometime it doesn’t. but Life will go on.

    “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

  • April 1, 2017 at 6:20 amLunacha

    I totally agree, I watched this show out of curiousity bur I am not too upset about how it ended either. I somehow wanted Mugi and Hanabi to be together at the end but sort of glad it ended the way it did too. This show was a bit different from any other shows Ive watched so it definitely was new to me. I liked how realistic it was than other romance shows.

  • April 1, 2017 at 8:20 amNikki

    I’m not too upset about the ending either. I personally would have been upset if Hanabi and Mugi got together right then and there. Now, I would not be opposed to them getting together in the future as long as they are over their failures of their first love. They need more time to mature.

    The one thing I do dislike is Akane’s ending. I really dislike how she managed to get a “good ending” and still plans to cheat. It’s not right for onii-chan. I don’t care if he wants her to be happy, it can still put his life at risk in a multitude of ways.

    • April 1, 2017 at 12:06 pmtheirs

      Look at it this way, Narumi got his good ending. He doesn’t mind Akane’s “hobby”, so he’s not getting the short end of the stick. Might seem strange, but I think it’s better to openly cheat than to cheat behind his back. He prefers her to be open to him, and that’s what he’s getting. All the blacks, white and every shade of grey.

      While Akane was already happy at the start. Her release from her “prison” may actually lead her to hell. Sure she still gets to do her “hobby”, but remember the reason she cuts people off? She cuts them off early to avoid getting hurt. A husband isn’t someone that is easy to cut off. When it comes to good ending, she’s actually following a risky path. An adventure she’s knowingly taking part in.

      Happily ever after is for fairy tales. Knowing how she is, Akane’s path seems to be the one with the highest risk of going south. It’s nice to be a simple man like Narumi. He’s getting the best path, while Akane’s is probably only better than Atsuya’s.

  • April 1, 2017 at 11:40 amtheirs

    A really good adaption. Gave a satisfying ending. You know it’ll be hard for those two to get back together after all that happened. Still makes me want to give Hanabi a hug at the end. Hope she finally finds love in the future. Mugi too.

    As a fan of the manga, I really didn’t expect to start watching this. I tend to avoid anime adaptions of manga I truly love. Glad I read Cherrie’s review, as this became one of my two favourite shows this season (along with ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka). The visual style got me interested, and apparently audio and direction were great too. If there’s any criticism about the adaption, it’s probably Moka’s arc. I felt a lot more pity for her while reading the manga. Sanae’s cousin may have needed an episode more to sink in, but with a one cour anime, I think it’s acceptable.

    I truly enjoyed watching it as I did reading it. Really wish more anime would follow a similar art style. It might not be easy to work with, but I feel they really suit emotional stories like this one.

  • April 3, 2017 at 6:35 amNN4

    I liked how they tricked us into thinking the short-haired “temptress” character in the OP was Hanabi, when it was young Akane all along :P Nice red herring.
    The final chapter of the manga is soon to come, I wonder if it has the same conclusion.

    Liked this anime very much, a refreshing look on the romance trope. Thanks for covering Pancakes!

  • April 4, 2017 at 1:32 amPO

    Ugh. This ending was so… ugh. Mediocre.

  • April 8, 2017 at 4:27 pmewok40k

    Farewell, dear scums. I hope all of you will mfind happiness, and maybe true love.

Leave a Reply

Please DO NOT ask or give links to raws, subs, or PVs. Instead, please check the Community section on the sidebar for useful links.
Gravatars are supported, so please sign up for a free account if you would like your own globally recognized avatar.

HTML tags are enabled for comments: <a href="" title=""> <b> <blockquote> <em> <i> <s> <spoiler> <strike> <strong>
** Please use <spoiler></spoiler> around any major spoilers. **