After exploring the depths of Akane’s self-inflicted depravity last week, Kuzu decided to pursue a more conventional route this time by showing just what makes everyone tick. Hanabi of course is the fallen star this time around, where we finally learn why she crushes over her brother. I had my suspicions, but it’s still surprising seeing the girl suffering from daddy issues, especially given little foreshadowing regarding the trait. It does explain a lot regarding Hanabi, however, particularly why she has grown infatuated with Mugi these past couple of weeks. It might seem strange at first glance, but Mugi exerts a mature, stoic aura which Narumi naturally possesses from his age difference. For a hormonal teenage girl craving paternal affection and attention, Mugi’s male aloofness and seemingly uncaring attitude fill the void which a missing father leaves behind and Narumi does not provide. This is why Hanabi returns to Mugi even though Sanae arguably provides a more “physical” release—Sanae cannot provide Hanabi the type of emotional connection she desires. No better way seeing the difference than in how Hanabi initiated the latest round of sexual escapades.
Mugi too, however, offers up some surprises regarding his past, particularly his crushing on Akane. Although Mugi falling for Akane over appearances is entirely expected, I did not expect him to actually be aware of what Akane does on the side. This almost makes Mugi revolting—why continue pursuing someone clearly using you for their own ends?—but once one remembers Mugi’s age and his prior experiences it starts making sense. Mugi is blessed with teenage levels of hormones and sexual experience which has let him discern his tastes long before most people even reach sexual intercourse. He knows full well how Akane is leading him on, but cannot help what turns him on. It can be unbearably hard mitigating such sexual desires as a teen, and in a sense Mugi is stuck in a sort of purgatory where he knows he should move on, but continues tripping before reaching the exit. It’s part of why Mugi approached Mei after several years and suddenly found a spark of potential interest in Hanabi: he’s trying to use their presence as a means of breaking his interest in Akane. Unfortunately for Mugi, however, he has yet to realize just how infatuated Hanabi has become. For a girl willing to go all the way, Mugi’s blatant indication that Hanabi was broken is enough to kill the relationship, especially when Hanabi is clearly a virgin (in the penis in vagina sense) and still coming to terms with her chaotic emotions. Personally I doubt this scene is enough to stop Hanabi from growing closer to Mugi, but it certainly puts the ball in Mugi’s court.
For Mugi’s benefit though, he is better than Narumi, who has proven to worse than initially apparent. Hanabi’s brother certainly suffers from the infliction of a vanilla personality, uncertain how to actually go about getting Akane, and bad enough that he asks for permission when permission was already given well in advance. No wonder Akane can walk circles around the poor guy, especially after dropping that name-bomb in mid catch. Although I find Narumi’s personality insufferable, he serves an important function as foil for the black hearts of everyone else, especially Akane and Hanabi. Akane’s sly attention whoring and psychological torment fetish wouldn’t be as disgusting without Narumi’s “pure” personality to play off of for example, nor would Akane’s swipe at Hanabi be as painful. Narumi effectively enhances Kuzu’s corruption by reinforcing just how broken the main cast is.
What particularly interests me going forward, however, is where all of this is leading. All relationships—barring Mugi and Noriko—have now been set up to blow at any given moment, with only the spark missing. Although Akane’s screwing Narumi might seem like the trigger, I doubt that’s the act which will blow the situation up given how personal the act was. No, I think something bigger is coming, something which will finally force our protagonists to confront the darkness in their hearts. I am not certain what it will be, but I’m looking forward to finding out.