「戦略の結末は修羅場」 (Senryaku no Ketsumatsu wa Shuraba)
“The Result Following A Scheme Is A Battlefield”
Eita…your nice guy persona will be the end of you, I swear. I’ll grant you that it is unnecessary and downright cruel for you to make enemies out of your friends, but come on man, you’ve made them all love you even more. I’ll have to disagree with Saeko-san on this one, partially. You have gotten yourself in a full-out battlefield alright, but at the same time you’ve gotten yourself a de facto HAREM! When you decide to passionately hug your former lover, accidentally seal the deal on a shady marriage contract, and kiss both your “girlfriend” and your osananajimi all in the same episode, how can you not expect the most volatile harem to arise! I feel jealous, disappointed, ashamed, and strangely proud all at the same time and I’m sure Saeko-san feels the same.
Let’s face it, the overarching plot here means little compared to the episode to episode interactions between the characters. Let’s also face that Eita is probably in love with all of the characters for different reasons, though one can argue that such love is in varying degrees. Since he interacts with each girl in such a personalized way, it’s hard to make clear-cut comparisons easily, but sure as hell we can try to. Hence, let us look at each character and see just how well they’ve fought in this battlefield.
Himeka “Himekashizuka Heaven’s Rain, Burning Princess Saint Dragon Lady of Dawn, Burning Pudding Princess” Akishino
The Master of Love: Ai Fuyuumi
On a legally binding scope (a sketchy one at that), A-chan has already won the battle. With a marriage contract in hand, it’s only a matter of graduation until she’s got Eita in the bag. Putting that aside though, A-chan has put the most effort of all the characters into winning Eita’s heart. Saeko-san wasn’t lying when Ai scored first on the love index–although her tsun may get in the way, the dere is strong in this one. She’s been the most enjoyable character to watch through the series, as it seems her energy seems never ending each episode. She will get in everyone’s way when she gets the chance and disagree with anything she finds disapproving, and she will make it known to everyone around her. “AI-CHAN WINS!” rings through what seems like every episode since her arrival, and for the most part it’s true. The transformation from her tsundere nature to just plain dere with a dash of tsun has been a pleasure to watch, especially in the exaggerated form that she presents it as. She may run away in disappointment at times, but there are equally as many times that she’ll run away, unable to handle the excitement within her.
If you look at it closely though, of all the girls, Ai-chan may have gained the least ground in terms of Eita’s affections. Her chances to express her affection in the last episode were limited due to her disqualification, and although she tries so hard, and although the audience is rooting for her so hard as seen in the comments, she’s rarely been able to garner Eita’s affections apart from her arc. Most of the time Eita deflects her advances for being too strong, which is made even worse due to Eita’s awareness for her feelings. I have no doubt that the love she has for Eita is ridiculously strong, but in terms of reciprocation, Ai-chan may have the lowest ratio of affection returned back. You’ve got to admit, with Eita having no recollection of their childhood, the fact that she held onto that contract for ten years takes serious dedication–that dedication is a bit unsettling, but you’ve got to give props to her for making it happen.
The True Osananajimi: Harusaki Chiwa
There have been some complaints that Chihuahua hasn’t been trying as hard as the other characters in getting ahead of the game, but this latest episode has tipped the tables. Like Akishino, Chiwa’s shining moments come few and far in-between, but when they do come, it’s hard not to give her a chance. Eita hit all the right buttons in dedicating his career to Chiwa in her time of need, but due to years of the status quo and being completely comfortable around Eita, Chiwa didn’t know how to express her true feelings to that gesture. Her competitors only grew in number and intensity as she hesitated–by viewing all of her clubmates as obstacles and enemies, it took an emotional toll on her that depressed her for some time. She wasn’t tall enough, not sexy enough, not the first osananajimi, not Eita’s girlfriend, not Eita’s chuunibyou partner…and the list grew longer and longer. Enter Eita though to point out the one strength she had–he knew Eita the longest, and no one could take that away from her.
From then on out, she’s become more accepting of Eita’s other love interests–she still views them as rivals, but also as good friends who have supported each other. Her confidence grew and her openness to expressing her true feelings climaxed this episode. Make sure you listen this time…Ei-kun, I love you. Chiwa reigns in being able to understand her feelings for Eita the best, in being completely aware of why she loves Eita and having the justification to prove it. Despite the girlfriend blocking her way, despite the disadvantages stacked against her, she finally reached out and claimed what she’s wanted this entire time. Is it moral to not let anyone get in the way of love? Debatable, but this show definitely seeks to challenge that notion, all starting with the osananajimi who’s so close, oh so very close, but so far. From the final episode it’s clear she’s moved towards the front of the battle after being in the shadows of her competitors for the entire series.
The Self-Proclaimed Bitch Queen: Natsukawa Masuzu
Masuzu has always been a curious character, but recently her actions have become more unpredictable. The loathing that Masuzu holds is now limited to herself, thanks to the pure hearts of her fellow maidens. To be frank, I still don’t get Masuzu or the relationship she shares with Eita. They obviously do have affection for one another, but it is a very unorthodox and weird way of expressing it. Does Eita truly love Masuzu enough to be her boyfriend, or does he do so out of the status quo? It looks like they truly are in love with each other, but at the same time they look lost and impulsive with their actions. Masuzu continues to distinguish herself from the other characters as an unpredictable character–one moment she’ll be head over heels with Eita, but a few moments later will revert back to a surface personality without much warning.
But this unpredictability is what defines Masuzu, where Eita is the sole source of stability in Masuzu’s life. Presumably in fear of her household back home and the personality that it left her with, Masuzu harbored jealousy for those happier than her. As she admits in her stage dialogue, she hated Eita so much for having such a happy life and being such a nice guy, but became sad when he was the real deal through the trials she put him through. For that, she’s head over heels for Eita, and it seems Eita has done the same, though his reasons for being with Masuzu still have not crystallized. It’d be easy to blame it on bad writing, but let’s give hope that the reasons for Masuzu’s personality conflicts and Eita’s fall for Masuzu are reasons worth sympathizing with. Mana hinted at such reasons with the small appearance she made last episode–here’s to hoping those reasons reveal themselves in the light novel soon enough.
Oreshura, of all the shows I’ve watched this season, arguably has seen the best improvement from beginning to end. At first I lamented this series for all the awkward moments that it portrayed, for all the cringing events that made it almost unbearable to watch. However, things got better as the characters bonded with one another and began to be more open about their feelings. This last episode is a stellar example of that, as everyone lays out on the table what they feel, making it impossible for Eita to misinterpret or be thickheaded about. My predictions were correct in that more characters would make the experience a pleasure to watch. When the battle was a simple love triangle, it felt terrible seeing their interactions be one-sided and heavily antagonistic, with Eita rarely acting of his own accord or Chiwa getting any slack from anyone. With the introduction of the new characters though, the show became a guilty pleasure to watch as the harsh and awkward connections between the characters transformed into a bunch of rivals having fun while trying to win. Though they all love Eita in their own way, they find themselves unable to hate on anyone else–everyone in the group has a sympathetic story to share where no one has done any wrong, creating a scenario where a battlefield can reign during the time of a shaky harem. With such equal footing for all of the characters, it’s no doubt that flames would heat in the audience, so much so that a spin-off manga focusing on Ai’s successes is currently ongoing.
Now, I’m not claiming that Oreshura is a great romantic comedy, but it definitely approaches the harem in a fairly uncommon way. The show managed to draw a variety of reactions from myself throughout the season, and in retrospect I am glad it did so, for better or worse. Some may disagree with how “deserving” or likable the characters are, but just like how the title misleads no one with its “battlefield” statement, the opinions on this show and the characters definitely are just as polarized and heated, as illustrated by the comments. Thank you all for following this show to the end, and thank you for putting up with my sometimes biased attitudes. It’s been a treat blogging this show for you guys, and if this gets a second season, know that I’ll be one of the first to jump on the train.