「つながりたいけど, そばにいない」 (Tsunagaritai kedo, soba ni inai)
“I Want to Connect, but You’re So Far Away”
While the first three episodes took the perspectives of Kazuki and Enta to heart, it’s Kuji’s turn as he reflects on his past struggles with his brother, Chikai. Considering how he’s previously helped waterboard a guy and sell weed for Chikai, it was easy to see how he’d fallen under an unsavory path due to his brother’s influence. But with crime heavily embedded in Kuji and his brother’s upbringing, it gives Kuji a complicated dilemma where he wants to be closer to his family, yet has to take on numerous illegal activities and bitter secrets in order to preserve his relationship to Chikai, the one surviving link to his family.
This episode gives us a deeper glimpse into Chikai, who ends up being the unfortunate role model that shapes Kuji’s life. With his parents’ death linked to falling into debt, Chikai’s aim to push forward to amass a fortune by any means necessary compelled him to take on a life of crime and push his little brother away if he couldn’t keep up. Due to the level of influence Chikai had as a big brother, he imparted several “survival of the fittest” life lessons on Kuji to defend his criminal activity and make money such as selling his deceased parents’ possessions and joining a gang. His dedication to his family meant to steal from his gang to preserve their family soba shop and take the brunt of the responsibility for killing the gang leader that Kuji shot.
Whereas previous secrets from Kazuki and Enta were merely embarrassing or humiliating, Kuji’s takes on a new level of severity as him and the rest of the boys see a young Kuji shoot the gang leader in the chest. It’s a secret that Kuji aims to take to the grave, lest he kills somebody to hide it because what he did could easily land him and his brother in prison. The episode isn’t above giving him some more light-hearted moments as he finds himself blushing over watching Kazuki eating soba, but that could open up a whole can of worms if it ends up birthing a love triangle for Kazuki between Kuji and Enta.
And if this were the case, Kazuki is leaning highly towards Kuji as he finds himself more sympathetic to Kuji’s plight. It’s been noticeable that Kazuki has been relying more on Kuji in previous episodes as he’s been reaching out to him over Enta, but this episode makes this far more clearcut. And while Enta wants to join Haruka in meeting Sara in person, Kazuki latches onto Kuji under the impression that he’ll pretend to kidnap Sara to save face without encountering Haruka his disguise. This reliance wouldn’t seem nearly as devious if it wasn’t for this episode’s cliffhanger where Kazuki gives his silver dish to Kuji and outright tells Enta that he hates his little brother Haruka. There was a sign in previous episodes that Kazuki hadn’t concerned himself with Haruka outside of dressing as Sara and stealing a housecat for him and that Enta was doing the heavy-lifting by actually paying attention to him. But this “Hail Hydra” moment really solidifies the notion that Kazuki’s investment in his little brother was never in the right place. That the most enjoyment he personally gets from dressing up like Sara is to get closer with Kuji rather than Haruka. And with the cops taking a more proactive role in making the next kappa zombie, it will be interesting to see the repercussions that come from Kazuki’s declaration.