「気づかなかった幸せ」 (Kizuka Nakatta Shiawase)
“Happy You Did Not Notice”
Just like that, things can change in the blink of an eye. People say you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it, and although it’s unlikely either Yuu or Ayumi are goners at this point, I’d wager that it isn’t a coincidence that this just happens to be the week Yuu also realizes how fortunate he is to have Ayumi by his side. It’s just a pity that this realization comes with a development that might change their lives forever, and things certainly didn’t come together in their favor this week.
Not only did Ayumi develop powers as anticipated, but her decision to sneak out of the house causes her to have a run in with the romance-obsessed Oikawa, who ultimately serves as the primary reason she has a run in with Konishi, whose box-cutter antics end up being the final trigger for Ayumi’s “collapse” ability. The perfect casting of Koiwai Kotori aside (she was fabulous in a similarly sinister role in M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane), this was an illustration of the “bad things come in threes” principle if I’ve ever seen one, and it’s a result notable in particular for the techniques used to both foreshadow it and amplify it’s impact.
Looking back to last week, Ayumi’s sickness was the first major clue that something was amiss, but the striking change in color usage from the mid-point of the episode onward (you’ll notice it after screenshot 21) ends up a key change that contrasts with the vibrant colors used during the previous episodes and amplifies subsequent scenes tas literal reminder that things were about to take a darker turn. Makoto Shinkai has been noted as someone in particular that uses this technique (his book, “A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai” is a must-read in this technical regard), and one wonders if it isn’t only but one of the many things being used here to make this a more complete experience. In this sense, the opening sequence seems to hold more than meets the eye given the events of this episode, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ayumi’s “boom” gesture in the OP was subtle reference to her collapse ability.
That said, the other thing that caught my eye this week ends up being the actions of Oikawa and Konishi, and count me in as someone surprised to see middle schoolers acting the way they did. Granted, it’s far from the realm of impossibility—I’ve seen some pretty nasty interactions between kids of their age—but given the seemingly deliberate nature of everything, I can’t help but associate the events here with Ayumi’s ability. It could very well be that her ability isn’t limited to physical phenomenon, and it’d make a lot of sense if her ability also serves as a double-edged sword that “collapses” the relationships between her and those around her. It’d explain the unnatural obsession Oikawa has with her and the unnatural hate Konishi has against her, while fitting right in with the unnatural obstacles that stood in Yuu’s way of rescuing her.
Either way, it looks like we’ve suddenly reached Charlotte’s turning point, and we’re given our first significant cliffhanger to boot. Whether Yuu and/or Ayumi end up surviving (I predict they both will), it’s obvious that things will no longer be the same, and the fact that we have a yet to be revealed (?) character with knowledge of the situation promises to make Charlotte’s next episode worth the price of admission.