「色を変える世界」 (Shoku wo Kae ru Sekai)
“A World Changing Color”
Stories are at their best when they touch upon the cornerstones of human life, on emotions and trials and tribulations its audience has faced and perhaps not yet overcome. That’s what we saw here, both in the effect of Shiina’s manga on herself and Sorata, and in the episode’s message to us all. A story within a story (within a story), Shiina’s manga to Sakurasou to the swirls it sends out to each and every one of us. Let’s chew into this.
One of the things that Sakurasou does well is pivot from silly comedy to serious drama. At the beginning we have Sorata making a typical harem lead’s mistake (just tell her she’s cute, dammit!) and Jin cursing the children for coming close to Misaki’s breasts (oh Jin, so tsundere~)…but as soon as Jin flicked Misaki’s tanabata wish and read what was on back, a feeling of profound sadness descended on the scene. “That one day he’ll look my way.” Misaki acts frivolous, you think she’s frivolous…and then things like that happen. Time and again they balance comedy – Meido-chan’s surprise, the abduction, Jin and Misaki trolling hard – with the more serious affairs I’m going to talk about shortly. I know I’m predisposed to like these swaps – I love interjections and asides, as you may have noticed by how much I use them in my writing, and I’ll freely let myself be swept up in the mood by a story that rewards me for doing so – but I feel like they’ve done them extremely well even so.
Let’s talk about Sorata and Jin. I’ve called them both out as having inferiority complexes before, but that’s not entirely accurate – rather, their problems have to do with understanding. The problem isn’t that Shiina and Misaki are great at what they do, but that they’re so effortlessly great that Sorata and Jin can’t imagine, can’t even begin to understand what’s going on in their minds. Think of it like introverts and extroverts. If I had to guess I would say quite a lot of you are probably introverts, so you’ll understand when I say that to an introvert, it’s hard to understand how extroverts can so effortlessly wade into a crowd and chat them up like it’s no big deal. That’s not to say that introverts can’t do the same, it’s just that we (yes, I am one as well) have to watch and practice and put forth concentrated effort to do so. There’s a gap there, a chasm that must be bridged before the two parties can truly understand one another, between the naturals and the try-hards. That’s the gap that exists between Shiina and Misaki on one side, and Sorata and Jin on the other.
That’s why Sorata and Jin, deep in a dark corner of their hearts, wanted to see their respective love interests fail. It’s not that they’re cruel people, it’s just that they wanted to see their girls not as flawless prodigies, but as fallible human being who make mistakes…just like them. There is very little more human than making mistakes, so seeing that would have made the girls more understandable, and the two parties could have come together. Yet that’s a terrible way to feel about someone you care about, hence Sorata’s guilt, and for that matter Jin’s as well. Those conflicted feelings…I must say that I’ve stood in their shoes before, not so long ago. It doesn’t feel great, but it’s understandable.
Fortunately Jin (and Akasaka) had the right idea. Just as an introvert can study and work hard to understand extroversion, if Misaki and Shiina are too far above their level, the only answer is to strive until they’re good enough to stand beside them. Level up, shounen! That’s what Sorata learned here…and a few other things besides.
A story within a story (within a story) – from the second I saw Shiina working feverishly on her manga, I knew it would be the vehicle by which Sorata came to understand her feelings. Shiina is awkward with words and actions, but through her art she can convey what she’s thinking far better. So it was when Iida Ayano (Asano Masumi) showed it to Sorata. I laughed when I saw the genderbend – it’s Soratako! XD – but the message came across loud and clear – the ending that Sorata was moving towards, the one drawn on the pages in front of him, was not a happy one. Blaming others for his boredom, running away because he was scared, not trying because he might fail – all excuses! But I loved the moment of realization, Sorata’s run, his decision, his declaration, and finally him breaking down and admitting what we knew all along – that Sakurasou is the place where he belongs. Like the visuals, a light warmth suffused. Loved it.
The best stories touch upon the cornerstone themes of life, and that’s what we got here. Sorata’s dream is foolish, and he’s getting started late, but I can’t hate him for that – we could use more foolish dreamers, if you ask me. So tell me, are you working towards your dream? Or are you too busy, too scared, too focused on what is “realistic” and expected to go for what is unique and remarkable? It’s like Ayano said, each of us should draw the ending we want. What will yours be?
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Running away, hurting each other, & finally…growing up. Sorata finally realizes what he truly wants. What ending will you draw? #sakurasou
- I like that Shiina didn’t use her tanabata wish for herself. It’s better to save wishes for things you don’t understand, things outside of your control – for those you can grasp, it’s better to win with your own abilities. That’s also what I like about Sorata, by the time the episode came to an end.
- The use of silence. After Sorata read Shiina’s wish, he stood there stock-still, so still that you might suspect your screen froze. It’s daring to use silence in a medium like television, to tell the story without frenetic action and words. It’s also fantastic when it’s done, and done well. It was right and proper that Sorata should stop in his tracks there, stunned by the realization that he does not know what his wish is, or at least won’t admit it. Just a change of the mouth as the shock settled in. Wonderful.
- In a way, Aoyama is like Jin and Sorata himself – she feels like Sorata is out of reach (for environment rather than talent), and wants him to be closer to where she is. Yet even she suspected that he didn’t truly want to leave Sakurasou. This is one of those tough love triangles, where it’s hard to ship either side – I like them both, feel for them both. It’s going to get even harder later on, isn’t it?
- Good going, Jin. Let them have their moment…and maybe, you and Misaki have yours. (I wish)
- It’s official: with Sorata switching what he calls her, I’m switching as well – she’s Mashiro from now on. That moment was so d’aaaaww!
- I want to write. This made me want to write so bad. This show makes me remember that childish dream of mine, makes me want to toss all else aside and get back to making it a reality. And you know what…fuck it. I think I will.