「うそつきの宴」 (Usotsuki no Utage)
The title of the episode is apt as it focuses on confronting Asuka’s tendency to bottle up her emotions and pass off her cheery act as part of her genuine feelings. Now that Seriousuka has been swallowed up by the Twilight, the episode faces how Asuka handles losing her and the effect that her history of lying to hide her feelings has on her friends.
This episode has been revelatory as to why Asuka regularly acts as if nothing concerns her at all. Seriosuka’s disappearance was what it took, but with her chipper behavior right after she returned from her week of skipping classes, it’s easier to see the correlation between her behavior has had throughout the series and the fake happiness she seems to exude around her friends. Her obsession with carrying on the family legacy of making miso ended up being the start to Yuu being skeptical about whether she’s being truthful considering how she lied to Yuu’s face about her true dream following her brother’s disappearance. Using her cheery demeanor as a facade to escape from her sadness has been her only coping mechanism, and yet the company of her friends, the one group she could expect solidarity from, just aren’t in the picture for her.
Lying to Takumi about Seriousuka’s fate was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Yuu, but Yuu was a trooper in this episode for coming clean about why Asuka’s behavior has been bothering her for a while. From Yuu’s POV, seeing Asuka revert to the same happy shtick and pretending to be alright would be frustrating and points to the whole idea that even though they’re close friends, she doesn’t want her to help her when she needs someone. Yuu hit the nail on the head when she said: “I’ve never once thought you’ve said something that came straight from your heart.” It hits like a truck and Asuka resolves to just walk away from them, but it was a long time coming given that Asuka’s pretend happiness wasn’t fooling anyone that she has been hurting for a while. Yuu just wants her to open up and be honest with her, but Asuka is still uncomfortable with others seeing that side of her. It can be easy to see how she could spawn personalities like Seriousuka in some of the other fragments with each personality bearing the brunt of losing their kid brother and dealing with it in a multitude of different yet sorrowful ways.
Asuka definitely didn’t take it well when she got called out, but bringing it up might just be the only way for her friends to get Asuka to open up to them. The episode leaves off on a more ambiguous note with Asuka encountering her younger self in the form of the Emissary of Twilight, the King’s servant. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here, how she’ll respond to what she’s learned, and whether her friends will catch up with her.