「大丈夫だ。いないから」 (Daijoubu da. Inai kara)
“It’s Okay. They Don’t Exist”
In a lot of ways this story moves too slowly (like I discussed last week), and it sometimes lacks the subtlety that would make its emotional impacts land with even greater force. Yet what is undeniable is that its characters are fantastic. They’re varied, lively, lovely, and have such life to them. Perhaps none illustrate this as well as Kaoru, who (along with Pin-sempai) is one of the trickiest characters to wield.
Kaoru can be irritating. He’s self-absorbed. He’s a bit of a pest. He easily could be unlikable, and admittedly Miyano Mamoru’s casting alone goes a long way toward making this not be so. (Credit still goes to the producers and crew for getting the right actor for the job.) But this episode, even if it takes too long to say one simple thing, does at least say it well. The Ijuuin Kaoru Show is silly, there’s tons of fun throughout it, and we get plenty of relationship talk (more on that soon) in the middle. But it what it really does is make me go “D’aaawwwww!” for a couple of friends, for best buds who have been there for each other when it counts. It’s so uplifting to see a young boy who, even if he was frequently annoying, was still so concerned for his friend that he dressed up as a clown to make the first anniversary of his parent’s death into a good day, into something to be looked forward to instead of dreaded. He’s a fool, a total goofball, but he does have his good points. It warms my heart to see it.
Amid the heartwarming message, we also got plenty of relationship talk. It’s no surprise that Alec “lied” that Teresa had a boyfriend, when he (I’m assuming) fiance shows up by episode’s end—though I’d warrant he’s an arranged fiance, and one who won’t stand in the way for long if Teresa decides to pursue Mitsuyoshi (though I’d be delighted if the show surprises me). I’m wavering on whether Alec and Kaoru have any relationship potential, since I’m not sure they’d actually be good together (though pairing them off for comedy’s sake—without the dating—remains a solid choice). The big news is that Yamashita Ken hinted at an unrequited crush on an older girl! The show still seems to be pairing him with Yui, if Hinako’s guess that she’s crushing on Yamashita Ken is correct (and it totally is), but it looks like they’re going to have a more legit obstacle in front of them. An existing crush for one member + a potential preference for older women? Zam! Great news, can’t wait to see where it goes.
Charles (Sakurai Takahiro) showing up at the end is probably the element I’m least interested in, both because the series is telegraphing where the main proto-couple will go more than the others (though it could still surprise us!), and because I just don’t believe he’ll go hard in on the drama. It really remains to be seen, though. In the meantime, the best blond boy is still Kaoru. He might be a fool, but he’s a good egg. We should all be as lucky to have a friend like him.
- I’m split on how this series ignores the cultural differences of the European characters. On the one hand, they fit in too well—they speak Japanese too well, they’re comfortable bathing with others, and Teresa even loves natto. (Alec’s dislike for it is the only holdover.) Part of that can be pinned on Teresa’s nerdiness, but Charles being excellent at Japanese too? On the other hand, if you’re not going to put forward at least Kiniro Mosaic levels of effort, probably best to just ignore it. It’s probably a wash.
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Forbidden Island, coast to coast.