「10+11 ～Better half～」
As the episode title suggests, this week’s showing is actually a compilation of episodes 10 and 11, whose fully unedited versions will be available on the Blu-ray releases. The finale next week is technically episode 12 and will wrap up this adaptation’s short look at a middle school years for Shuuichi, Yoshino, and their friends. Judging from this episode alone, the series looks poised to end on a low note after Shuuichi was sent home for cross-dressing to school. Surprisingly, his parents were pretty understanding, though only because they perceived it as a phase he was going through. Had they known how unsatisfied Shuuichi is with his sex, I wonder how they would’ve approached the issue.
In a day and age where women strive for equality with men, it’s ironic how many widely accepted double standards there are when it comes to genders. The female sex still benefits from the convenient ones, preventing women from truly becoming equal with men. Until things like leniency, physical competitions, and responsibilities in a dating (e.g. who should initiate in Western cultures) are completely standardized between sexes, men will probably be silently acknowledged as the dominant sex regardless of how much society tells us otherwise. This includes how boys are looked upon with very negative stares if they wear female clothing, whereas girls are often perceived as cool if they do the opposite. It’s odd when I stop and think about it, as there really isn’t any unbiased explanation for it other than saying it’s something that’s widely understood. However, simply stating that it’s a social norm is a very weak justification for why it contradicts the other social norm about sexual equality.
If it just ended as a slap on the wrist for Shuuichi by being sent home, then there would already be a discrepancy on how dress code is enforced at school. Reality is not so forgiving though, as he now has to endure rumors about being “queer”, “perverted”, or much worse. In addition, the ripple effect to Shuuichi’s friends shows just how warped human society can be — something that both Maho and Anna get a sense of right away. I sometimes feel we’re such a pitiful species, particularly in our adolescent years, gossiping and spreading rumors simply because our own lives are incredibly dull to the point that we need to berate others just to feel a little better about ourselves. I don’t claim to be completely benevolent by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s for this very reason that I hated rumors and people talking behind people’s backs, even though I was technically in the “popular” circle of friends in high school. At the lowest level, it’s a pathetic and cowardly way of trying to feel superior.
Shuuichi and his supportive friends put up a good fight against that ugly part of human nature, which has been the most refreshing aspect of this series for me. The premise revolving around his discontent about being a boy mainly serves as a window into it all, where we get to see quite a few different views from our social upbringing. In relation, it’s not a given that those close to Shuuichi are completely understanding, much like Momoko (Toyosaki Aki) showed when she tried to convince Chizuru to stop hanging out with him. Kanako (Nanjo Yoshino) on the other hand was extremely supportive and wary of Shinpei, who had the audacity to ridicule Shuuichi after he encouraged him to cross-dress to school.
Naturally, I was pretty happy about seeing Shuuichi tell Shinpei that he hates him, plus the latter genuinely frustrated about it, but I was a bit disappointed that Anna broke things off. She was understanding of how serious Shuuichi is and didn’t seem to have any romantic feelings towards him, so it was just the inevitability of their relationship that was a bit sad to see. Whether intentional or not, their breakup did contrast heavily with Saori, who seems like she would’ve stayed with Shuuichi even if he did want to undergo any surgical operations. I suspect her feelings are slowly changing after being turned down, but it was that initial faithfulness to her character that I liked right away.
With only one episode remaining, it looks doubtful that any attention will be on the new gender-reversed play that came about again. Maho’s relationship with Riku made some noticeable headway, so I can’t imagine that subplot garnering any more attention either. What’s left is Shuuichi with his longer hair and growth spurt as he starts dealing with puberty. He’s expressed concern about it before, so all I’m really hoping for is an uplifting conclusion where he doesn’t get terribly discouraged.