「遭遇 / 都市 / 街灯」 (Souguu / Toshi / Gaitou)
“Encounter / City / Streetlights”
Ah the joys of being proven right. Having spent two weeks largely introducing us to the (mostly) tranquil adventures of Chi and Yuu, SSR seems ready to finally start delving into the material which made me fall in love with it. Fellow humans, philosophical introspection, there is a lot of meat under this simple veil, and this episode only just scratched the surface.
While it bears repeating that SSR will never actually turn dark (got to keep those expectations in check), it’s amazing how well the show has done in constantly hinting towards this possibility. The manga (at least for me) never really emphasized these moments, sticking more to the lighthearted nature and letting the audience fill in the blanks. Here, however, the simple act of discovering a half burnt cigarette visibly puts both Chi and Yuu on edge and actually gets our hearts racing. I obviously know nothing bad will happen, but the scene’s layout tests that belief, cheekily asking “are you sure?” as it keeps nudging me in the side. You sure Kanazawa will not use the rubble aggressively? You positive the guy is not leading them somewhere else? Just look at Yuu’s doubt, always time to second guess before it’s too late! It’s a fantastic play on the emotions, and while likely better if you don’t know what happens next, still remains impressively effective considering the story SSR is telling. This world is a big and lonely place, why would you not expect a random encounter to end up turning out badly? SSR may never actually explore that concept, but the fact it’s willing to remember it makes it all the more fascinating to watch.
As equally impressive as the emotional teasing, however, is SSR’s introspection. Take Chi’s musing on the meaning of life. Sure it may be a cliché question at times, but under these circumstances it acquires a particularly pointed edge. What is the point of living in a world all alone with nothing to look forward to but the next meal? Is there a purpose to it, a reason for just carrying on existing from day to day? It’s starkly nihilistic thinking, and while a question we will all ourselves struggle with at some point (god knows I have), it’s one SSR suggests has a very simple answer: make one up! Doubtful? Just look how far Kanazawa got by living for the maps he made. The poor guy may have lost them in the end, but his drive remains and that is all that matters when it comes to persevering through the day and the ones after that. Find a want, no matter how small, and pursue it with everything you have. Once you obtain it, then pursue another—the only thing holding us back is that first step. Chi’s and Yuu’s seemingly impulsive choices on where to go may seem childish after all, but their drive to discover and find something better is what keeps them carrying on. Life is very much what you personally make of it, whether a gift from God or simple, random biology, always treat it as an adventure to experience. Do so and you will never lack for moments of beauty.
Although I do not know just yet if I’ll wind up covering SSR (my Friday workload keeps changing to my chagrin), there’s no doubt in my mind that this show will turn out fantastic. Considering how well these early manga chapters have been adapted and the material yet to come, I am firmly optimistic SSR will be the dark horse I always pinned it as. It may only be slice of life, it may never go grimdark, but SSR will always be a treat to experience.