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.