「氷の町のピクシー」 (Koori no Machi no Pixie)
“The Pixie in the Town of Ice”
After all of this time glancing slightly in Erika’s direction, she finally gets her own arc, and boy, does she hate this town. Her rage has been a slow burner throughout the series with Maki’s brother being the sole reason she hasn’t burned down her mother Angelica’s cafe. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Angelica giving her problems about not wanting to be stuck in Manoyama forever, evoking the cardinal sin that most fictional parents do by shouting “if you hate it so much, why don’t you go somewhere else?” in frustration. Angelica’s biggest mistake was underestimating how far Erika would go to walk to the station in the snow to take the train to Tokyo. As the episode moves forward, it becomes evident that she would do best with Maki’s family, considering that Maki is the only one of the Agency women that tried to engage her with a scary Tokyo story she got too interested in by the time she had to be dropped off at school.
The other girls had difficulty trying to get on Erika’s level, but Shiori is having the hardest time confronting opposition on Erika’s end. She kept giving Erika more softball questions about why the country is so bad that she hit out of the park every time. I groaned when Shiori asked where Erika would like to be in the future because it was obvious that her answer would be “Nowhere around you!” Shiori’s largest character flaw was that her comfort and passion for the rural life she’s always known blinded her from opening up to an outsiders point-of-view in why being anywhere else but Manoyama is an improvement. She gets upset by Yoshino paraphrasing Noge’s idea that the townspeople are comfortable with the town’s stagnation since they still love the town how it is while the younger generation is destined to move away.
This, however, leads into Shiori being more upfront about her insecurities that because she was never interested in a life outside of Manoyama that she doesn’t want to own up to the prevalent issue with the shopkeepers and elderly people in the town finding change or evolution to be unnecessary. It was fine enough when the other girls only shared their experiences with her and Ririko was sharing her own interest in leaving without aiming to create conflict, but Erika’s scorched earth campaign seems to have taken a toll on Shiori’s world view. It’ll be interesting to see what Shiori takes from reflecting on how Erika or the shopkeepers could possibly say that everyone in the town is so comfortable with stagnation that the youth would want to be anywhere except for Manoyama.
The next episode is looking to expand further on Erika’s troubles as well as follow the women on their journey to find the buried dragon statue. Noge, Takamizawa, and a close friend of his seem to have gotten together as kids to bury the treasure, but a scrap of the paper they tore together bound them to a sudden interest to unearth it. I’m looking forward to how they find it and examining their past friendship, though I wonder how they’ll tie the dragon together with Erika’s story and Shiori’s developing conflict with how she feels about Manoyama.