「結びの伝説 3日目」 (Musubi no Desetsu: Mikkame)
“Legend of Fate Day 3”
It’s no secret that Tezuka Productions dropped the ball on the animation for Go-toubun. Throughout the past 10 episodes, we went through so many off-model faces that it started to become an elephant in the room that, aside from the images I uploaded, it was hard to gauge whether Nino would have a normal face or get beaten with the “quality” stick until she has lopsided facial features. But for Episode 11, they really raised the bar by outsourcing a huge chunk of the animation to Studio Shaft, and their influence is definitely felt with how picturesque much of the scenes were with our two best girls. And the improvement in quality couldn’t have happened at a better time with how the episode tackles Ichika’s wavering emotions as she grapples with her feelings for Fuutarou and Miku slowly gains the resolve to fight against her conflicting thoughts on sharing Fuutarou.
It’s also hardly a secret that Ichika is my favorite of the quintuplets and this episode solidifies this with how complex she is as a character. Much like Macbeth’s moral dilemma on whether to fulfill his prophecy through violent betrayal, Ichika finds herself at a moral standstill upon learning that the campfire dance is said to make any couple that dances around it together forever. Ichika is initially horrified when she hears about the campfire’s legend considering that it means that Miku, the one sister who is the most openly interested in Fuutarou, threw away her chance to symbolically tie herself to him. As the self-ordained wingman for Miku, Ichika knows she has to take full responsibility to save Fuutarou for her sister and not drive a wedge between the two by taking her sister’s place in his life. However, the more she finds herself interacting with Fuutarou, the more invested she is in gaining his affection. Rewatching the first episode to see how the dub is (a dangerous pastime, if I do say so myself), it’s hard not to see telltale signs that, in spite of Ichika’s big sister act, she is easily taken aback by Fuutarou’s gestures. This behavior is prevalent especially after he motivates her to continue acting and isn’t helped by the fact that Fuutarou seems the most comfortable with talking exclusively to Ichika regarding the decisions he makes. The attention he gives Ichika is something that compels her to indulge in her wildest fantasies such as getting close to him while he’s sleeping or asking him to dance around the fire he made to trigger the shack’s alarm. The idea that academics like to fantasize too ends up adding fuel to the fire for Ichika as her experience in the shed only cause her feelings to bloom further. Her state of mind is visually expressed through watercolor as the feelings she catches herself having about him are just the beginning of a much larger tapestry that would eventually fill up an entire canvas.
On the flip-side, the events of the camping trip to this point have given Miku food for thought on how she should perceive both Fuutarou and her sisters. While she has been patient with having to see Fuutarou paired with her other sisters, mainly Ichika, she hadn’t seen them as much of a threat and kept telling herself that they weren’t going to get in her way. What this doesn’t prepare herself for, however, is the possibility that this line of thought would lead to her underestimating her other sisters and not realizing the fullest extent of their feelings for Fuutarou. Because of this, she’s constantly fighting with herself as to whether she should continue to share him when she’s in too deep to allow them to pull the rug out from under her and claim him as theirs. Helping Fuutarou hide from the tag-team duo of Nino and Yotsuba was highly beneficial for her state-of-mind as it gives her insight on how Fuutarou sees her other sisters and how the value he places on their respective abilities is what drove her to fall in love with him. “Let’s be fair, not equal,” is just what Miku needed to hear as it gives her the motivation to fight for Fuutarou rather than guilt herself into letting the other girls get their chance with him. Her resolve is also evoked through this episode’s artistic merits as well with the level of sketchbook-like detail to Miku’s eyes and face as she starts to understand why she should have more respect for how she feels about Fuutarou.
Considering that the next episode will be the finale, there is a lot of weight riding on Fuutarou’s decision for what he will do about the campfire dance. Will he end up going with the original plan to dance with Ichika? Will Miku find her way to dance with him either in disguise as Ichika or as herself? Will Fuutarou try to put on the blonde wig so that he can dance with Nino? Or will it be all of the above? It’ll be interesting to see how they wrap up the anime considering that they’re ending it at a pivotal moment that could define how exactly Fuutarou will have to behave around the sisters with three of them already vying for his attention. And with the preview showing off his future wedding with one of the sisters, the tension is amped up as it feeds into the speculation on who the mystery bride could be.