In the eyes of the one you love, would you be content with being second place for your whole life if it meant you could be together? It’s almost eerie how easily I can see myself in Hazuki’s shoes, having asked myself this same question not too long ago. It may seem like an innocuous question whose answer is a straightforward one, but in reality the mere ramifications of asking are far more complex than we may realize.
I can definitely understand where Hazuki is coming from. It’s sadly too easy and tempting for us to compare ourselves to the other lovers, both past and present, of the person we’re interested in. And then from this comparison, we often form a hierarchy, as illogical as that may sound – but we all know love is never logical. In Hazuki’s case, he can’t help but compare himself to Shimao, but he cares for Rokka so much that he’s willing to get past just about anything to be with her. Whether that means enduring a lifetime of being her second choice or braving a supernatural earthquake of a tantrum from the ghost of her deceased husband, he is determined to see it through – any sacrifice is worth it. However, is Hazuki’s confession really fair for Rokka though? If they entered into a relationship, she would likely feel a lingering guilt of not being able to give him 100% of her love that he deserves. Rokka would also likely have a very hard time moving on from her dead husband, as we saw when she was reminded of their happier times together and began to miss him. Just because Hazuki is happy and willing to accept being second doesn’t mean Rokka should as well, and this is one reason a comparison between lovers can be detrimental.
It’s interesting to note that Hazuki isn’t the only one who has found himself in second place when it comes to Rokka. Even the normally irrepressible Shimao, after throwing a frankly pitiful and ridiculous fit like petulant child, has finally begun to realize that he and Hazuki are in fact not equal rivals for Rokka’s love and that he is actually losing in many ways because of how helpless and powerless he is. The prospect of him taking a back seat to Hazuki clearly makes Shimao uncomfortable; although I do feel sorry for Shimao having to suffer through watching the two flirt and cuddle in the very same bed he once shared with his wife. Yet at this point, there’s nothing he can do. He has no avenue to vent his emotions other than kicking at the air, conjuring up ‘earthquakes’, and hurling objects at the target of his animosity. Shimao appeared to be so mature in the past with how considerate and philosophical he was that it makes his current behavior even more dumbfounding.
The other reason why Shimao feels like he’s coming in second in Rokka’s life is because he feels like he has no purpose for his existence anymore. Before, he believed that his role was to unselfishly fulfill her “Don’t leave me alone!” wish, but it’s becoming clear that at this point in time Hazuki is the one with a part to play in her life while Shimao can do nothing other than prevent her from moving on. I can’t help but feel that he and his clinginess is more selfish than anything. It’s not she who needs him; it’s he who needs her, and all that he’s doing now is making her sad. Shimao did regain a bit of respect in my eyes when he decided to take up Hazuki’s offer to help him move on, an offer which improved my opinion of Hazuki as well.
At this point, I think deep inside, none of them are content with merely letting things stay the same, despite any pain and heartbreak that might accompany Hazuki and Rokka’s courtship. It’s no longer a matter of who’s first and who’s second, so long as Shimao and Rokka can move on. Shimao needs to learn to let her go so that she can find happiness and love once again, and Hazuki needs to help him do so if he is going to take his place by her side and in her mind. In a way, a confession like Hazuki’s does have its benefits as well because now the thought of him taking Shimao’s place has probably been implanted in her head. Hopefully, this is the first step for him to see her adorable smile once again.
With each episode, I find myself still impressed with how realistic Natsuyuki Rendezvous’ portrayal of an anime romance is – it’s truly been a breath of fresh air with its reminder that the road to love is not always innocent and idyllic, not always sunshine and rainbows. The ghosts from our past relationships often linger to haunt us in ways we never expect, and push us in ways we never know.
- I absolutely love Hazuki and Rokka’s flirting. It feels immeasurably more realistic than any other romance I’ve seen in recent memory, and I have to admit, my positive feelings about their dynamics have been greatly influenced by just how adorable Rokka is.
- Plenty of interesting symbolism and imagery in this episode. Hazuki explained the cut vs. potted flower one already, but I actually had a simpler interpretation too. The cut flower has nowhere to go but to wilt and die; its beauty is only destined to fade away, and it’s not worth a lot of time and investment. The potted flower on the other hand is still growing; its beauty will only become greater and this is why any investment in it is worthwhile. I thought the hand imagery was a sweet one as well. We already know Shimao’s hands are unable to touch and affect anything, while Hazuki’s hands can do all sorts of things; however the one thing he wants the most, to make Rokka smile, he’s just as powerless and helpless as Shimao.
- Full-length images: 04, 05, 06, 08, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 29, 33.
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