「Dear My Friend」
“Well, don’t push yourself too hard. If you fail, you’ll just regret it all the more.”
Surprise is not necessary for a story to be great. It’s become clear for episodes now that the bubbling drama between Kimari and Megumi would boil over, something myself and others have called. What matters is the execution of that which you foreshadow—though it helps (or at least doesn’t hurt) that the contours of the drama were sightly different than I was expecting.
Megumi was jealous, as we anticipated, and it was an ugly thing; even she admitted as much. She wanted to be needed, but her mention of how Kimari makes her feel like an onee-chan—of it being like she had a little sister, in a girl who actually has a little sister—changes the inflection. This was still an ugly jealousy, and one she shouldn’t have acted upon, but it had the flavor of an older sister or a mother or an aunt looking on as their young one grows up and begins doing amazing things, a conflicted feeling of wanting Kimari to stay small and cute and needing of her help, even as she deep down realizes that she has to let her grow—with the added flavor of them being the same age, so it’s like Kimari is surpassing her in real time. Megumi feels empty, like she has nothing, and Kimari’s actions have thrown this into stark relief. It’s like they say: a person’s reaction to you has far more to do with themselves than it does anything you’re doing. So it was with Megumi.
“Sometimes, people are just mean. Don’t fight mean with mean. Hold your head high.”
It all finally came to a head on the morning of Kimari’s departure, and in the right way. This wasn’t melodrama. It wasn’t a big messy fight. It wasn’t drama for the sake of drama. Everything about this show is about its characters pushing themselves, and each other, to be better people—and through them, to push us. It has an optimistic worldview at its core, and a show like that would never indulge in tawdry theatrics. That’s why Kimari doesn’t get mad at Megumi, and why it’s her kindness, her friendship, and her earnest effort that causes Megumi to confess what she’s done in the first place. Kimari is such a brilliant main character because she’s in no way an audience insert. She’s the heart of the team, the soul of the cast, and the one who, through her own actions and worldview, inadvertently encourages others to be better even as she seeks that for herself. She’s an inspiration, and someone to be admired even as she’s so clearly flawed, so clearly figuring this out as she goes. Her story with Megumi this episode shows that.
What’s so lovely is that, up until the big confrontation, the story is told in what isn’t said (for Megumi) and what is (for Kimari). It’s asymmetric warfare, with Kimari unknowingly beating her best friend in a battle she doesn’t know they’re involved in. Everything from her different answers to Megumi’s tired old saying to her inviting her along and dragging her into their games, Kimari is wearing Megumi down without even knowing it, even as she shows to her other friends, and even her own little sister, that she’s still the person Megumi felt she had to help, coddle, scold, protect. Add in Kimari’s fun adventures with her friends, and the interactions with her family that made me tear up more than once, and it was a picture of showing how much Kimari has, and how much she’s growing, compared to the emptiness Megumi feels inside. Makes you feel for her, doesn’t it?
“Water collects into stagnant pools. I’ve always loved watching it spill out all at once. Breaking free, liberated, rushing out. The energy stored up during its stagnation bursts forth. Everything springs into action!”
This is a rare story that can so deftly encapsulate a theme with what originally looked like throwaway imagery from a character’s childhood, as it did here with the stagnant pool. But more than that, it’s the rare TV show that actually needs all the episodes it’s given. It’s not just filling time, it needs each of these episodes because each one has something to say, rather than just burning time until they can get to the good stuff later on. That’s the huge advantage and benefit of original programming; since this wasn’t designed for any other medium, it fits into the contours of TV perfectly, each episode a three-act structure amid the season-wide arc each drives forward. Not every episode is equally as good, but all are needed, and all end with their own climax. It’s no wonder each gets an insert song to help stick the landing.
Speaking of, have I mentioned how much I love the ED? I listen to it multiple times every episode. Heartful, yearning, almost mournful, but inspirational at its core—Yorimoi in a microcosm. Love it.
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Full-length images: 20.