「愛はたくさん」 (Ai wa Takusan)
“Lots of Love”
No matter what you may think of Kuzu, you got to admit, it never fails disappointing. Given the Moka-centric focus this week, opinions were certainly going to be divisive, particularly given the superfluity of Moka in the in the first place. This was a character seemingly serving no real purpose other than checking off the “childhood friend” box and providing Hanabi some competition—even though Akane does it better. Colour me surprised then when the bite-sized princess turned out be alright.
What drew me in regarding Moka this week wasn’t her cutesy voice or try-hard act, but her surprisingly sane thought patterns. Moka is arguably the only girl here who is willing to abandon what she wants if she cannot get it, at least until the episode’s end. Similar to Mugi’s crush on Akane, Moka understood well that Mugi never desired her, that she would never “have” him, and was fine with it so long as her fantasy could stay fantasy. Compared to Hanabi’s mental torment these past few weeks this is a breath of fresh air, a character capable of identifying impossibilities and willing—in a sense—to move on past them.
It’s Moka’s logic throughout which makes it funny—for me—that some have labelled her actions bipolar. The girl is fine having Mugi in her fantasy, but when he physically comes on to her, she rejects him? Rather than contradictory behaviour, this does actually make sense when Moka’s understanding is considered. Moka as mentioned knows she will never have Mugi, and is fine with her love remaining a fantasy. The problem is when Mugi breaks that fantasy with the kiss and attempted intercourse. By coming onto Moka, Mugi effectively gave Moka the hope that he could come to love her, even though all his actions up to then have indicated differently. Moka rejected Mugi at that point because not doing so would keep her strung along, hoping for the impossible while struggling with the pain. For Moka, loving herself (i.e. being cute) is more important than the slim chance of a forlorn love. Quite ironic that the youngest and most “naïve” girl here proved the most mature in the heat of the moment.
Besides giving depth to Moka, however, these developments also had the benefit of snapping Mugi and Hanabi out of their fantasies. I’m convinced Mugi kissed Moka out of guilt, and it was this guilt—and accompanying spike of lust—which made him question exactly what he was doing. Much like Moka, Mugi stopped himself because the veil over his fantasy had been lifted, with only the ugly reality remaining. Likewise Hanabi found sanity through Mugi’s disregard and the skillful playing of Takuya (Akane’s boy toy). Hanabi was always fledgling when it came to understanding love, but Takuya showed exactly how much by effortlessly running circles around her. He always pushed, agreed and amplified upon her statements, and sparked unconscious interest in him by simply leaving when Hanabi tried pulling back—textbook pickup artistry. Takuya’s actions here along with Mugi’s ignored phone call were what finally broke Hanabi’s fantasy by showing just how superficial her attempts at desire—and emulating Akane—ultimately were.
With Moka out of the picture (for now) and both Mugi and Hanabi committed to confessing their feelings for a proper chance with each other, it seems we have reached Kuzu’s climactic point. Although apparently obvious that both characters will be rejected by their unrequited loves, I can easily see things veering off south. Akane for example could attempt stringing Mugi along further, or Narumi could aggravatingly play dumb and refuse to recognize Hanabi’s feelings. It’s not clear where Kuzu plans on heading, but you can be sure we haven’t seen the last of the emotional struggle just yet.