As alluded to in the preview last time, we learn of Hotsuma and Shuusei’s childhood together this episode and the scarring the two of them endured then, both physically and mentally. Depending on how comfortable you are with the depiction of closeness between males, their past growing up as Zweilt Guardians may be a bit much to take, especially when they profusely say how much they need one another. However, Hotsuma’s current tough exterior in contrast to his scarred past where he uncontrollably charred a couple of bullies who were picking on Shuusei puts a different spin on things that anyone can relate to. Furthermore, the fact that his own parents feared his powers so much that his own mother would call him a monster is a susceptible plot device whether we’re dealing with a couple of good-looking guys or not. I for one was taken back by how Hotsuma must have felt when he found out his own parents not only didn’t want him, but was waiting for the Giou clan to come and take him away and receive money for doing so. As if it wasn’t bad enough to learn that they were relieved to get rid of him, he also had to find out that they couldn’t wait to do so and get paid handsomely at the same time, which is an agreement between the Giou clan and Zweilt Guardians’ parents that occurs even now.
If anything, this revelation allowed me to appreciate how Hotsuma has managed to maintain his seemingly uncaring facade most of the time. The only exception to that is when he’s alone with Shuusei, which we learn is because the latter stopped him from committing suicide once before and was left with burn scars on his body as a result. Despite how Shuusei now bears the scars, it’s quite easy to tell that Hotsuma has it much harder following that incident, since they’re a constant visual reminder of what happened then. In addition, it’s what caused him to devote the rest of his life towards making up for, which more or less explains why he cares about Shuusei so much now. While it’s fair to say there are suggestive “boys love” undertones in their relationship now, it really depends on how far you let your imagination run off with that idea. I don’t deny that the writers have tried to make it seem as such, but I remain rest assured that things will never get to that point in the actual story. That delusional tangent is better left off to doujinshi and whatnot. Here, things are getting interesting with Yuki uncovering the burden Hotsuma’s been carrying in his heart all this time and reassuring him that he’s no monster.
It seems somewhat trivial for someone to say that, but unless they actually understand his situation vividly like Yuki does with his ability to read other people’s thoughts and emotions on contact, it generally doesn’t bear a lot of weight. Subsequently, Shuusei just vanished into thin air after Hotsuma’s mental burden was somewhat lifted, which almost made it seem like an Angel Beats moment after his lifelong regret of being unable to help him was realized through Yuki. I gather this is the work of Ashley however, using Hotsuma’s hankerchief that classmate Yoshino Shiori (Hazuki Erino of ARIA fame) brought her under the belief that she would receive some fortune-telling love advice. The current case that the police dectectives have asked Takashiro for help with involving disappearing male students and a seemingly unrelated “Sleepy Beauty Syndrome” also leads me to believe as much. In any case, with Shuusei gone and Hotsuma frantically wanting to search for him, it looks like the Giou members will finally clash with some of Reiga’s henchmen. Bring on the Opasts!