「カラノワレモノ」 (Kara no Waremono)
“Fragile and Empty”
I might enjoy thinking, but damn it’s difficult figuring out where to start with this episode. Kuzu produced several major developments this week, each important in finalizing where this story is headed. The central development of course was Akane, where we received further information regarding her personality. Although I thought the earlier flashback succinctly summarized Akane with the boyfriend stealing, this week fleshed out that aspect by reinforcing how childish Akane is. The girl in a sense never emotionally matured beyond her teenage years, she still sees relationships as pure desire where the objective is garnering the most attention. Love for her is just a tool to receive this attention and flaunt it to the competition (i.e. other women).
Understanding this aspect is important for explaining Akane’s utter confusion at Narumi. Considering Akane has little to no experience with long-term, monogamous relationships—let alone a relationship venturing beyond lustful sex—it makes sense she cannot see what Narumi is doing. Contrary to Akane’s belief the guy has a sex drive—like all men—but Narumi does not want her for sex, he wants her for a wife. This in my opinion is where those sexless dates and that cuckold remark especially were born from. Narumi does not possess some strange sexual fetish, rather he wants Akane to know he’s willing to accept her flaws because that’s what long-term lovers do: accept each other in all ways. Narumi here is proclaiming acceptance of Akane’s inclinations and willingness to look beyond them in order to showcase his husbandly credentials. Personal opinions aside (I believe Akane is not marriage material in the slightest), Narumi’s proclamation further solidifies his surprising maturity while showing just how immature Akane truly is.
On the other side we have Mugi in what is proving to be a battle of the wills. I always thought Mugi was predestined to suffer once he screwed Akane, and such tribulations were born out here. Mugi’s lust guaranteed Akane could emotionally spin him effortlessly, while Mugi’s basal desire to change Akane ensured he would keep returning after every failure. It’s why Mugi overthought a simple kiss, and why he initially kept halfheartedly trying for a single date. Mugi in effect was mentally working through the same kind of feelings which Hanabi struggled with for most of the season. As Hanabi discovered and acted on regarding Narumi (i.e. the confession) though, Mugi now too realizes the only way out of his self-made pitfall is to change himself. This is where Mugi’s assertive demand for a date arose, a final attempt to move above and beyond his current status with Akane. While there’s always a chance Akane may respond in kind given her shock at the actions of Narumi and Mugi both this week, I do not expect Mugi’s newfound assertiveness will really change anything between her and him. With no shift in perceptions likely, I think Mugi will finally break things off with Akane next time and return back to the waiting Hanabi.
With only two episodes remaining, Kuzu has largely peeled its relationships down to three pairings: Mugi-Akane, Mugi-Hanabi, and Akane-Narumi. How these three pairings are resolved will determine the ending we receive. While I can guess how the first will end considering the above, the key will likely lie with what Narumi does next. Narumi’s openness and acceptance this week indicates he is serious about courting Akane, and it’s not unlikely he may make a move (i.e. marriage proposal) on her soon. If Akane gets such an offer, what will she do? How would Mugi react, and how would Hanabi take it? The possibilities of where this story is heading intrigue the hell out of me, and I honestly do not know what the final choice will be. Just have to wait and see what next week brings.