「つながりたいけど, もう会えない」 (Tsunagaritai kedo, Mou Aenai)
“I Want to Connect, but We’ll Never Meet Again”
At first glance, the “We’ll Never Meet Again” in this episode’s title seemed to direct itself towards Kuji’s departure from the group. After time catches up with the trio, the situation has become far more urgent for Chikai to get out of town with Kuji before the police catch up with him for shooting his old gang leader. But the cruelest twist in Sarazanmai yet is that the title also applies to Enta, who is gunned down by Reo and would never meet Kazuki again presumably because he was killed saving him. It’s hard to gauge how Reo’s bullets apply or whether Enta was only wounded, but for the sake of losing the third shadow in the ending credits, we’re left to assume the worst of Enta’s fate.
Let’s rewind a bit to discuss Enta. He spent a majority of the episode suffering from the consequences of his plate-theft and finding out one secret that didn’t require a shirikodama to be exposed to him. Through his brief partnership with Kuji’s brother Chikai, Enta learned that some of his favorite things about Kazuki came from Kuji. His pose? That was Kuji’s. The blue miçanga? Also Kuji’s. At first, it seemed that Enta was more than happy to get Chikai to get his little brother out of the picture, but as Chikai parts with him by giving him lollipops to share with his friends, urging him to make up with them, Enta finds himself wanting to get to the bottom of what exactly Kuji is thinking in wanting to leave just like that. Whereas Kuji wanted to make it clear to both Kazuki and Enta that he’s perfectly fine with what happened with the dishes as he intends on following his brother out of the city, the time Enta spent with Chikai gave him insight on the fact that Kuji has been giving up his connections and desires for his big brother.
With the regretful farewell that Kuji gives to Enta as he tells him there’s no point in having Kazuki remember that day on the bridge where he gave him the miçanga, Enta is left with multiple conflicting thoughts in his head about Kuji’s connections with the rest of them and Kazuki’s feelings about Kuji. Since Kazuki met Kuji, he’s been harboring a passionate degree of fondness for him as he remembers the moments they’ve had since the first episode. Because his memories cut off by there, this means that Kuji and Enta are left with the frustration of treating Kazuki as if all of their interactions with him before they met Keppei was all a blur. For Kuji, this brings about the lingering sorrow that he has for Kazuki completely forgetting that he gave him the miçanga as a way to try to leave a lasting impression on someone who wasn’t his brother. For Enta, it reflects the agonizing frustration that he has over Kazuki choosing to live in the present and forget all of the connections he’s made before he saved Haruka. Since that day, it felt like there wasn’t something right about how Kazuki was acting unnaturally passionate in his happiness, and in this episode, his anger follows this same pattern as he lashes out on Kuji for possibly siding with Enta for not being concerned about the dishes he took.
Kazuki’s heightened emotional state culminates when the first thing he does when Enta approaches him with the dishes and a plan to catch up with Kuji is to punch him in the face and tell him that he’s done with him. What comes off worse for Enta is that Kazuki likes the idea of Kuji being around him without even coming to read or understand Kuji. Within that phone call, Enta could easily tell that Kuji was having a conflicted tug-of-war over whether to give up his connections to go with Chikai or to stay behind until he can get Kazuki to remember the impression that he left on him with the miçanga and soccer pose when they were kids. But when Kuji wanted to calm Kazuki down and empathize with Enta, Kazuki became accusatory and ran off to search for the dishes in a mad pursuit to make Kuji’s wish come true. The development that Kuji goes through to mature by trying to level with his new friends in spite of having to say goodbye to them is what pushes Enta to preserve his own ties with the two of them, but Kazuki is far too gone to recognize any thoughts or emotions further back than his reunion with Kuji. It’s what ultimately causes Kazuki to violently push back against Enta. It’s also what forces Enta to acknowledge that, no matter how cold or unsympathetic that Kazuki has been to him, he can’t bring himself to push his unrequited love away or tell him that he could ever hate him. It’s what makes it sting all the more when their fight ends with Kazuki holding a dying Enta in his arms as he tells him that he couldn’t even bring himself to muster comeback when Kazuki told him he was done with him.
The episode did no favors to Reo and Mabu as their manhunt for Chikai caused them to resort to shooting a gangster in the streets and brainwashing their fellow policemen into believing it was Chikai that did it. They especially lost out on their good graces by the end with how they shot Enta and took all of the dishes, mocking him and Kazuki in the process. Again, the fantasy elements of Sarazanmai make it hard to believe that this will be the end for Enta or that Reo and Mabu are destined to be irredeemable antagonists, but the next episode will largely determine whether the series is going to commit to the dark, brutal path that it would choose if Enta is dead.