「楼閣の主」 (Roukaku no Omo)
“Master of the Inn”
Important life moments over good sake.
Old Characters Reappear. Do They Work If You’re New? (Hint: Yes)
I admit to a certain amount of trepidation going into this episode, after it was mentioned last week (without mentioning any spoilers, thank you Wanderer) that this episode would feature an original Utawarerumono character I hadn’t met yet. Referential characters like this can be difficult to use, because they need to balance the reference (in this case, referring back to the original series, though it can encompass referential humor as well) while still working for those who don’t know the reference. I think it’s safe to say that Karura (Tanaka Atsuko) and Touka (Miyake Kaya … I’m assuming they have the same seiyuu by the way, correct me if I’m wrong) work well for viewers of the original, so the interesting question remains: How do they work (as characters) for people who have not watched the original? Which, for the purposes of this question, still includes me, because Karura’s introduction is in episode ten in the original, and I’ve currently watched through episode nine. D’oh!
On this mark, Itsuwari no Kamen does relatively well. I think a basic knowledge of “There was this other guy like Haku who led the other series” is basic enough that most people can be assumed to have it, so the hints that Karura knew Hakuoro work as-is. But the big thing is that these characters don’t work solely on a referential basis. It’s not like the “My name is Khan” scene in the (shitty) (and lacking in important punctuation) Star Trek Into Darkness, where there’s a good solid five second pause (around 1:10 in this clip) after Khan says his name, as if the movie is screaming, “Eh? Eh? You recognize that name, don’t you? Here’s your break to squee like the fucking fanboys you are, you nerds. GIVE US MORE MONEY.” This, even though the name had no special weight or relevance within the movie alone.
In Itsuwari no Kamen, these characters do have weight on the basis of this story alone—their relationship to Kuon. So even if you don’t have a clue what they’re about (which I functionally don’t), they’re interesting because they’re both Kuon’s mothers. We want to know more about these two because of their relationship to Kuon (who is universally beloved, as she should be *shakes fist threateningly*), and also wonder who the hell Kuon is to have so many mothers raising her. Granted, some things work better if you know more about Hakuoro, like why Touka was having so much trouble saying Haku’s name without honorifics. Also, the name + the fan finally make sense, though that only requires knowing superficial characters about Hakuoro (his name + weapon of choice … it was a metal fan). There’s still more here for fans of the original series, but the characters work for viewers of this one only.
Drinking With Your Parents
I’m reminded of the second episode, of the graveyard scene. This series—and this extends to the original as well—stands out because it’s not the anime standard high school setting. It stars adults (albeit often young adults), or younger characters who are taking part in adult going-ons (see: Nekone). That means it can tackle more adult themes, like saying goodbye with a smile in the graveyard scene in episode two.
This time was one such moment which some of you might not fully appreciate. I don’t say that to condescend. I say it because, until you’re old enough to have had the moment, you won’t understand it with the depth of experience. In the same way that I’ll never understand childbirth, because I’m not a woman and am not equipped, I can only get close, close enough to hopefully empathize—but I will never truly understand. In that same way, it’s hard for me to get across how poignant the scene of Kuon drinking with her mothers is until you’ve experienced that yourself.
I remember the first time I had a few beers with my dad. Not the first time I had a beer around him, but the first time we had a few, where I was old enough to know what I liked, and we sat down to toss a few back, and just talked. Or the first time I was at a wedding with my parents (it was a cousin’s wedding), and I was sharing a drink with them, and I could tell my mom was getting a little tipsy. It’s a unique experience, that, and one that you can’t have until you’ve hit that point in your life, and only if you and your family are of the type to have a drink once in a while. (Sorry teetotalers, you’re missing an essential part of the human existence. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.) It’s a sign that you’ve transitioned from a child to an adult, and while most of the other signs sneak up on you, this is one where you can see the line brightly drawn in the sand. This is the moment you realize that you, the child, have now become an adult. This is when it became clear that we were not interacting as parent(s) and child, but as equals.
This scene was but an echo of that moment, but it’s an echo which reminds me that it happened. It resonated with me, with an essential truth and a common experience. Even if this show has been building too damn slowly, if it can keep touching upon truths such as this, I’ll be happy while I wait for its to build to a crescendo.
Looking Ahead – More Introductions, I Guess?
I guess more introductions are going to happen next week. Not going to lie, I’m kind of excited to see the expanded cast start to interact together, in a Little Busters! kind of way. (See here for a convo between Passerby and me referring to Little Busters! in the context of Utawarerumono.) Hopefully it will be more like this episode and less like the one before.
Original Utawarerumono Marathon Update (through episode nine): Show Spoiler ▼
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Old characters reappear, though new viewers needn’t be scared. They all center around Kuon, & a beautiful moment results #utawarerumono s2e6
- A collar with a chain. Angeloid?
- Haku is so serious about drinking, and was totally down to get rocked at a drinking contest. I feel like he’s my spirit animal. Or my extremely near future. Drink!
- I think I’m going to like her. Sexy onee-sans who can drink everyone else under the table are my JAM.
- Reminder: Please mark and tag spoilers for the original. I feel like that’ll be a problem this week, so please be careful. Thank you. Y’all rock.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Stephen, what is best in life?, It depends, Momentum & mental space, and The best content is in email