「学問のすすめ」 (Gakumon no susume)
“An Encouragement of Learning”
Kotarou and his Mother
“I must live up to my promise. That is all that matters to me now” – Dazai
Episode 8 remains my personal favourite episode. Kimonos, wishing by the wind chimes and a first kiss… you’d be insane not to like all of that! However, this episode comes in a very close second, the focus on family making it particularly special. My favourite anime ever is Clannad: After Story, a sentiment that outlines my appreciation for focus on familial themes. This also means that I will be referring to Clannad at length within this particular area of discussion, so please avoid clicking the links if you want to avoid getting spoilt.
I don’t know squat about raising kids, and imagine I won’t for another decade or two. However, as a teenager in the process of being raised, I’ve been nagged at fairly recently so I can say a thing or two about that side of the experience. In that heat of the moment, you don’t really appreciate the things your parents have done for you and easily relent to an angry outburst. Yes, parents can be irrational and naggy, but most parents really do mean all the best in their own way. Human nature is to be inherently flawed.
A hormonal teenager’s volatility usually doesn’t make a great case for rationality either. That’s not to say everything should be calculated based purely on logic and reasoning, since it doesn’t consider emotional inclinations. So, part of being a parent calls for balancing these two aspects. I found it really touching, when Kotarou’s mother fought to give him a chance at chasing his dreams, despite her initial misgivings. Not quite Akio Furukawa, but I think her actions gave across a similar sort of vibe to his inspirational speech from Clannad – that a child’s dream coming true is one of the biggest dreams that can come true for their parents.
Going back to another similar vein to Clannad: After Story, the scene that spoke the loudest for me was the moment of reconciliation, as parent and child quietly came to a mutual understanding. Seeing Kotarou’s mother prepare him onigiri, and watching him eagerly chow down with a mixture of regret and gratitude (FOLLOWING LINK CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS FOR CLANNAD) somehow takes me all the way back. Anyway, I think it might be a universal thing for mothers to just know best. Mine is already onto the fact that KFC Hot Wings are my ultimate comfort food, capable of calming me down after almost any kind of fight.
The months sure roll by faster than hippies cheese-rolling down a hill, now that Christmas is upon us in Tsuki ga Kirei. Scarves and handkerchieves were nice presents. Nothing too expensive, but certainly thoughtful, especially Akane’s adorably hand-knit scarf. Between the two emotionally confiding during the festival, every little activity we got to see was heart-warming – praying at the shrine, floating a paper doll down the river, taking love fortunes, and I suppose there’s the kiss too. Not sure if it’s just me, or if the kisses keep on getting better and better.
From the shy girl dependent on her sweet potato plushie, Akane’s growth since the start of the series has been absolutely astounding! She’s much more straightforward and confident, her puckering motions towards Kotarou indicating that she’s the one now asking for kisses! The two have definitely come a long way, as sadly the end is nigh.
“To decide I’m hopeless before I even begin is nothing but laziness” – Dazai
Here’s to holding out for a completely happy ending without drawbacks, but I’m still wary of getting Shinkai’d. If you want to avoid the terminal depression of being smacked unawares, I would suggest you follow me on this one. Kotarou worked hard and has done me proud with his steadfast persistence. However, it would be something of a miracle if he pulled off a pass.
Even then, his difficult path would only continue. Ayane makes a poignant remark on Akane bearing a huge responsibility. If the two broke up, Kotarou would be stuck with 4 hour commutes, potentially in the same class as his middle-school ex-girlfriend for hours upon end. For a single choice, the way it can affect their lives cannot be understated. Regardless, the dreamer in me denies these possibilities. I refuse to stop rooting for Akane and Kotarou, because apart from Hira and Chinatsu (as well as their sympathisers), who wouldn’t want to see these two make it all the way?