「君と僕と」 (Kimi to Boku to)
“You and I”
Who’s really saving who?
Before I get into the nitty gritty of it all, can we just take a moment to let the all the feels settle in? If you missed my personal intro earlier this season, I mentioned I have a family made up of a dog and two cats. It should be no surprise then when I say I pretty much just gushed my way through this episode.
In Tokushima, Subaru’s flight back is cancelled due to a raging typhoon, but he manages to hop onto a bullet train home. He reaches out to Hiroto for help to check on Haru until he returns. At home, Haru’s concern for Subaru’s well-being increases because he’s late, it’s storming outside, and she knows he’s unable to care for himself. The storm reminds her of her frightened younger brothers, which then leads her to imagine Subaru in the same dire situation.
As Hiroto comes into the house, the wind prevents him from closing the door and Haru races outside into the storm to find Subaru. When Subaru learns of Haru’s escape, he also imagines the worst. The idea of losing Haru is too much for him to bear. Now that he’s back in town, the entire team (Hiroto, Kawase, Nana, Yuugo and Subaru) brave the storm and search for her high and low.
Meanwhile, Haru is looking for Subaru thinking he must have passed out somewhere unable to call out. Small critter that she is, Haru is pushed over a ledge by a forceful wind. She can’t make her way out and fear slowly begins to set in. As Haru tries to conquer her fear, my heart slowly begins to crumble. As someone who dearly loves her pets, I can’t imagine them being in that situation. I can’t imagine the pain and loneliness they must feel. As humans, we can reassure ourselves by thinking about the next step, but for a trapped animal, fear can be paralyzing.
But as usual, the episode comes full circle. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Subaru calls out to Haru and she in turn responds. That single moment is a ray of light breaking through the clouds, or in this case a sobbing Miss Simplice. Tears of sadness turn to tears of absolute relief. Okay, yes, I saw it all coming. I knew last week the exact series of events that would unravel, but that doesn’t stop it all from playing with my heartstrings. Damn the author for being so good at evoking these emotions in me.
Following suit, the entire family arrives and helps Haru and Subaru, who fell into the gutter trying to reach for Haru. They return to Subaru’s home, Haru gets a less than enjoyable first bath, and they all have dinner together. Haru is glad Subaru is safe, but as for Subaru, well he acknowledges that ever since Haru showed up in the graveyard, he’s been slowly opening up his heart. Subaru now has his very own family and it doesn’t only include his cat, but a whole load of people who now each hold a special place in his heart.
Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. is an impressive slice-of-life series, not because it adheres to the genre’s tropes, but because it succeeds at conveying a wide range of emotions. Whether or not you’ve had a relationship with a cat, a period in your life where distance from others was a necessity, or lost a loved one, the series provides an accurate description and understanding of the depth of human emotions. Through Haru and Subaru’s relationship, we’ve experienced sadness, loss, regret, hurt, anxiety, happiness, love, joy and pain.
I’m very fond of this series, particularly because of its alternating perspectives. It doesn’t matter that she’s a cat, Haru’s perspective is just as poignant as Subaru’s. For those of us who have animals, we know that their past traumas can have nefarious effects. Working through them requires a lot of effort and patience, but most importantly, understanding. Although their respective ‘stories’ aren’t aligned, their feelings are, and it’s those feelings that become the foundation for their relationship.
What Haru most needed in her life was to bond with another being, learning how to trust, and be vulnerable. Subaru on the other hand needed something to spark him back to life. Choosing to be a recluse might have seemed like a solution, but it’s not much of a life, which Haru has slowly helped him realize. She’s brought laughter and love back into his life, and together they’ve built a family.
It’s been a pleasure to watch these two characters, one a tsundere, the other a hikikomori, shed their layers and open up to new relationships. The premise might not be the most elaborate and the story arcs don’t range too far from our two protagonists, but the minimalist approach created space for a deeper exploration of what’s really important in life: connection.
Thanks for following along with me this season for my first ever coverage for RandomC! It’s been a fun rollercoaster ride.