「エンジェリック・ハウルII」 (Enjerikku Hauru II)
“Angelic Howl II”
I was all planning to talk about the way Japanese handle horror compared to the West and discuss the way Angelic Howl portrays the erosion of the psyche etc, etc, but then my thought process gets completely derailed by surprisingly steamy episode of Grisaia no Kajitsu. I guess it’s actually a good sign; with more episodes of Angelic Howl than any other route, it seems that the staff feel that they have the time to build a stronger rapport between Kazuki and Amane. A rapport, and perhaps something more. We’re seeing the beginnings of the transformation of the awkward, introverted Suou Amane into the crazy glomp monster that she is today.
It’s only skinship
Despite all the cute blushing our two heroines were doing this episode, I’m not entirely convinced that they have the One True Yuri Love going on here, though it’s never easy to tell. The thing is, right now Amane is in very vulnerable emotional state, and will imprint onto anything. The collected Kazuki is her rock, and Amane becomes increasingly reliant on Kazuki’s stability. Amane’s complete dependency on Kazuki combined with Kazuki’s alleged devotion to Amane’s safety makes the relationship feel almost maternal (alternatively, I’ve been blogging too much Mushishi). It’s interesting that now at Mihama Academy, Amane tends to play a maternal role herself; she does tend to baby Yuuji. Or she could just be Kazami-sexual. It could be anything.
We are what we eat
Eating dog is not taboo in all areas of the world. In particular, in poorer, rural communities, protein is protein. The difference between a domesticated dog and a domesticated pig, really, is how much attachment we allow ourselves to form with them. Sure, a cow’s not going to play fetch with you but I’m sure if you spend enough time nurturing your pig you’ll feel bad eating it too. Watch Gin no Saji, folks. It’s educational.
I don’t blame any of the girls for shying from butchering poor Alione though. It’s not wrong to feel attachment to animals, when we care for them like our own. But we must admit that having a pet simply for the sake of companionship is a relative luxury, and not one that everyone can afford. From a pragmatic standpoint, the dog should have been put down from the start. Weighing between a human life and an animal life, the ethical choice weighs towards the human every time. Hence animal testing. The useless little lapdog never had a chance. I found its death and funeral rites one of the more powerful scenes of this anime, as it neatly summarised the twelve days of struggle the girls have gone through. Being able to care for a pet is a luxury, and as with other luxuries like a soft bed or basic hygiene, it is brutally stripped away. Remember, these are not hardened survivalists. These are just young girls. They’ve been brought up within the comforts of civilisation, and those comforts form a part of what they are. Losing them so violently is a dehumanising experience.
Peeking outside the garden ~ looking ahead
I’m pleased that we’re getting all this time for Angelic Howl, because I feel that it needs it even more than the other routes. The essence of Angelic Howl is oppression, and its slow grind on the psyche over time. The deterioration of the camp’s conditions, the loss of hope and vitality and the slow but inexorable descent as recorded in Amane’s diary needs to be played with care. Some of the girls are already losing their will. Kazuki’s role as the sole competent becomes more and more pronounced, but since we’ve only seen her from Amane’s point of view she is still, in ways, inscrutable. Amane trusts her unconditionally. It’s usually not healthy to trust anyone unconditionally. But there are very few sources of faith left.
I hope that the budget is going to last us, because it already looks like it’s running out. There was actually relatively little actual animation this episode, just a lot of pans (look how many full-lengths I took!) and I would prefer to believe it to be a sign they’re saving for something big rather than the wallet drying up. Despite the tight budget, though, I still think Angelic Howl is shaping up relatively well. I’m assuming it concludes next episode, and I can imagine various ways it can be done. I’m looking forward to seeing how Part III plays out.