「Butterfly Swimmer」

With the confessions out the way last week, I had an inkling the fallout of Hanabi’s and Mugi’s decisions would occur this time around. Instead, however, we received a weeklong respite it seems as the remaining loose pairing end in Hanabi and Sanae was properly concluded, yuri and all. Sanae’s relationship with Hanabi was arguably Kuzu’s most provocative, propelled in part by Sanae’s aggressiveness and willingness to literally use Hanabi for her own ends. It was Sanae’s refusal to stop which was probably the most damaging aspect though, as she knew what she was doing was wrong, but forged ahead nonetheless. It’s therefore not too surprising Sanae’s change of heart this week initially threw me for a loop. Sanae knew all about the unlikelihood of Hanabi ever loving her, but I never thought she would accept it and move on this quickly. For such a morally repulsive character—next to Akane of course—to realize her futility and act on it is quite impressive, a good bit of redemption in the face of unpleasant beginnings.

Particularly amusing during the breakup too was both Hanabi’s and Sanae’s misunderstandings. Both girls were under the impression they had singularly used the other for their own selfish benefit. Peanut gallery seating lets us know Sanae was the (ab)user up to this point, with Hanabi largely accepting her advances out of confused loneliness and guilt. It wasn’t until this episode that Hanabi actually came onto Sanae herself, and at the very end—begging to remain friends—willing to use Sanae for herself. It’s actually quite sad on Hanabi’s part, as the poor girl does not understand the extreme difficulty Sanae faces in trying to forge a platonic relationship with her. For all that Sanae is broken, her commitment to trying with Hanabi was the strongest thing she has yet done, a testimony to her change and a showing of the depth of her affection. Like Hanabi discovered last week, Sanae learned the greatest clarity can often be found in failure.

The one irk I had with this episode, however, was Atsuya’s role. While the cousin was important in pushing Sanae—and Hanabi—to break things off, I think his function was largely superfluous. Atsuya for me functioned more as a convenient out for Sanae (i.e. gives her a “happy” ending) and personality foil than a worthy addition. Like Sanae, Atsuya has an unrequited love in his cousin and also possesses an eerie stalker mentality, showcasing through similarity just how broken Sanae was. While it may have taken longer to reach this path’s ending considering Atsuya’s role in forcing both girls to see the truth, removing him likely would not have impacted the final result: Sanae would still have ended things with Hanabi, and both would still have remained platonic friends. Sanae was already planning on distancing herself from Hanabi before Atsuya entered the picture after all, Atsuya simply ensured she followed through with her commitment.

While Sanae and Hanabi may have ended things peacefully, future events do not portend the same. As Akane’s “house visit” confirms, Mugi has found himself trapped in the grasp of a woman who knows exactly what she is doing and will waste no opportunity. Considering Hanabi has now placed her happy end (i.e. ending her loneliness) in her relationship with Mugi, when Mugi’s actions come to light, you can be sure the poor girl will suffer. Hard. Stay tuned boys and girls, with one last serious thread to tie up, I think we have yet to see just how far down this rabbit hole goes.


  1. “Morally repulsive”, my my. Aren’t we being pretty judgmental today? Sanae pushed on and kept trying, and yes – out of bounds a bit – albeit Hanabi never explicitly told her to back off. If she had, and Sanae had refused to do so, THEN I’d subscribe to “morally repulsive”, but not based on what we saw.

    “Misunderstanding” is the wrong word here. They didn’t “misunderstand” anything. Rather, both seeked something in the other which was asymmetrical. Sanae seeked requited romantic love. Hanabi seeked companionship and comfort. I don’t see anything inherently bad in this, and the fact that both rather feel remorse over “using” the other one is both understandable and touching to me. Because the normal reaction would be to lash out in pain, instead they manage to reconcile. Which is testament to the fact that they DO care for each other deeply, even though they are not compatible in the end.

    I’ll admit that I’m biased here. I had an Ecchan experience in my own life, and even though I managed to eventually reestablish a close friendship after a blackout of over two years, I was not able to step away without lashing out in anger. The girls did a better job here.

    1. For a lot of people Sanae’s actions would be construed as morally repulsive, she initially used Hanabi without any apparent remorse and even made a couple attempts to actively cut her off from others (i.e. that swipe at Mugi). Hanabi may not have told her off, but I’d argue at the beginning Sanae still pushed the boundary hard, although defining where the boundary lies definitely boils down to personal opinion.

      As for misunderstanding, I meant both failed recognizing the intentions of the other. Both Hanabi and Sanae clearly believed the other was innocent in their relationship, that they were the only one using the other, never considering that maybe the other was also doing the same thing to them. It wasn’t until the breakup here that this was cleared up and both saw just how much they cared for each other. I agree I probably could have picked a better way to describe it, but I’ll blame the half asleep me for that problem lol.

      I agree too that there’s nothing wrong with their desires, and Sanae in particular deserves praise for how well she responded to Hanabi afterwards–choosing to try for friendship following a breakup of your choosing is not easy at all given the potential for pain. That moment IMO was as important as Moka’s earlier date with Mugi in defining her character and showing how strong Sanae can actually be.

  2. From an viewer’s POV, I thought that both Sanae and Hanabi were both using each other for their own personal gains (as seen in previous episodes and I think you pointed it out too) so I didn’t see Sanae as the user or either of them as being the “bad guy” in this scenario. I think Sanae was probably more aggressive and by making her feelings known, she was definitely more vulnerable but if anything, I thought it was Hanabi’s wrong for not saying anything sooner. Since this anime is all about relationships, I think we all know that it’s hard to be the first one to “make a move” or proclaim your affections, so while I don’t necessarily love Sanae’s character or her approach, I have to empathize with her decision to do what she did. At least she didn’t keep it bottled up and her attention was towards the person she actually cared about. Unlike Hanabi and Mugi who turned their affections towards each other which is not the ideal solution at all imo.

    Having been on both sides of this scenario before, I have to say that it sucks and hurts a lot more for the person to be on the receiving end of the rejection and having been told, “I still want to be friends”. You know how d*mn hard it is to hang out and see someone that you know doesn’t feel the same way and you can’t put aside feelings and you know they like someone else?! It’s SO hard and it’s even worse when you start seeing them with someone else. I much rather just NOT be friends and walk away and (maybe) never see them again even if it’s a good/best friend because for me, separation and time are the only ways that your feelings will go away. So there’s my two cents for Sanae and why I totally understood where she was coming from. Having been Hanabi before as well, it sucks to lose a good friend and over something that’s completely not in your control either. You want to stay friends because you obviously care about the person and want to ensure that they also find happiness. But I always have to keep in mind that even though I want to reach out to that person and talk… it’s best to wait for them to come to me. I’ve been in situations where I didn’t talk to really good guy friends for over a year or two until we’re comfortable enough to be just friends again and sometimes, that’s just the way it has to be. So to Hanabi, the best advice I could give her is move on and give each other space. I thought both girls reacted very realistically in this episode though and it was a very mature response from both parties. Let’s see how Hanabi handles Mugi now…

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