「デモスキナンダ」 (Demo Suki Nanda)
“But I Like You”
After what Ryouma did last episode to precious Izumi, it is critical that our star redeem himself as quickly and as best he can, lest he trap himself in a character type of eternally creepy. Does he manage to do it? Let me give my two cents.
Going into this episode, I had my doubts about Ryouma’s success. At least from my perspective, there is a troubling set of conflicting standards–I can forgive a murderer if the death was justified, a thief for their unfortunate social circumstances, but for a molester (or any degree above), the story is different. It seems that their actions can only come from their selfishness–a trait not easily forgiven. I know this is a pretty heavy topic and we can argue about how stupid those standards are, but I hope it provides some context to the following discussion.
A key part in Ryouma’s partial success today came from his eager admittance of his crimes. Authenticity is semantically arguable, but at least Ryouma has a conscience to be upfront. In some series, the after-scenes merely brush the scene away (I’m looking at you Tonari) or there is still some blaming of circumstances other than the self (where forbid they blame the victim for being too appealing). For Ryouma to plead for forgiveness is a great first step. It’s a painful and somewhat pathetic one, considering his current position and his characterization, his actions make sense in context. Anything more efficient or perfect may have felt like pulling resolutions out of a hat.
It is this sort of flawed apologizing that perhaps makes forgiving Ryouma harder to do, despite how essential it is to the plot. Without the key insight of Izumi’s inners struggles and outward interests, all Ryouma can really do is hope for Izumi to give him a second chance–something we all know isn’t given easily, if at all. It’s a sad sight really and perhaps some may think he doesn’t deserve forgiveness for his transgressions–selfishness is not easily remedied by materialism. However, perhaps that is the strength of today’s episode–we aren’t supposed to be completely convinced. In fact, we’re perhaps supposed to feel the same way as Izumi–apprehensive, distant, yet curious and pitying.
Moreso than Ryouma’s dogeza, I really appreciated Izumi’s reaction to the entire situation. Instead of completely shutting out Ryouma, his desire to give him an ear is a shaky decision, yet a merciful one at the same time. While it is in Izumi’s character to be fairly defenseless and easily manipulated, he’s not completely spineless. The plausibility of Izumi’s situation was strengthened by the break in his surface character–nobody is going to be completely comfortable around someone who just violated their personal space. It would’ve been tragic if Izumi had thoughts about secretly liking it and wanting more, but we get the complete opposite–Izumi is in complete fear that he’s actually a BL character and really is weirded out and uncomfortable with Ryouma’s actions.
It helps that Izumi expresses emotional disconneections towards Ryouma’s gifts as well–we see a definite contrast between Shougo’s thoughtful Lala Lulu gifts (despite their usage as manipulative leverage) and Ryouma’s lavish, yet un-personal gifts of new clothes and a hairstyle. Isn’t it funny that those gifts seemed to benefit Ryouma’s attraction to Izumi than mend any broken bridges? It’s very indicative of the growth we have yet to see between these two, especially for Ryouma and his understanding of Izumi. Izumi himself on the other hand, has to deal with his conflicting guilt, which though absolutely illogical, is not an uncommon trait for people in his position. “Was it something I did wrong?” lingers in the back of people’s mind, even if they firmly know it wasn’t their fault. Surely we should see more of this flipped dynamic of Izumi holding authority over Ryouma, as Ryouma tiptoes around a fragile peace that he’s formed with the boy he loves.
Going forward, I sure hope we don’t have to deal with such forceful scenes ever again. The preview shows that there is more of Ryouma invading Izumi’s territory, but alas, nobody is perfect. Overall, this episode was a great one in setting the new stage for Izumi and Ryouma to move past new roadblocks, including some foreshadowing of paparazzi drama that is yet to come. For those of you still with us, I hope that we can have an enjoyable time picking apart this show for the great and not so great that it is.