OP: 「乙女どもよ」 (Otome-domo yo. ) by Chico
「豚汁の味」 (Tonjiru no Aji)
“The Taste of Her Pork Miso Soup”
The first episode of Araburu captures the intrigue and embarrassment that comes from learning about the birds and the bees during puberty to its fullest. Through its expressive art style and creative take on encountering the topic of sex after years of being kept in the dark or blissfully ignorant of the subject, it makes Araburu‘s debut an unforgettable trip.
Niina (Anzai Chika) incorporating sexually-charged literature into the Literature Club’s reading list acts as the powder keg that forces the girls to think about what love means to them and whether they would really want or care to make that next step towards inching closer towards sex. The fascination that we have with sex when we’re younger ends up creating the image of intercourse as a forbidden fruit or an impurity that cannot be indulged in until marriage or else you will have more consequences than just shame waiting for you. This fascination is amped up to eleven in the world painted by Araburu with the girls having only just been introduced with the idea of whether to pursue sex or not in a school where a huge chunk of the student body is sexually active.
As a result, there are many adverse reactions to Niina having intercourse on her bucket list. The harshest reaction came from Rika (Uesaka Sumire), the prudish president of the club who is outright repulsed by the concept of sex and the fact that those around her are having sex. What you’ll definitely notice is that Rika tends to attract the negativity in her life through her standoffish demeanor. Such is the case when she gets the entire class to make fun of how she looks after she slut-shames a group of girls who brag about their weekend escapades. Hitoha’s (Kurosawa Tomoyo) reaction is far less negative if only because she’s been curious about sex farther back than the rest of the girls and actively goes on chat sites to get research on what exactly sexual contact is like. Momoko (Asakura Momo) is still trying to gauge whether the topic got to her, but for the most part, her main role is offering Kazusa (Kono Hiyori) support.
Speaking of Kazusa, the episode’s most prominent moments are focused on how she’s dealing with the Literature Club’s shift in focus towards sexuality. More particularly, it shows Kazusa mulling over what it means for her budding crush on her childhood friend Izumi if sex is something that comes into the picture at some point. She knows her love comes from a deeper place where she is slowly falling for Izumi because of how he’s always been there for her, but with sex being so prominent as a teenager, she is unable to see Izumi as a boy with urges. She would always grab her mother’s home cooking for him and watch him enjoy it, but with so many teens, including the girls who scorn and bully her, letting their sexual desires for Izumi be known, Kazusa can’t shake a feeling of uneasiness from her lack of security over her object of affection.
This is where we hit the most memorable scene of the episode where Kazusa’s impulse to deliver him food on one lonely night ends with her seeing Izumi hovering over his computer as he is caught masturbating spread-eagle to train molester pornography. The situation is all the more awkward when Izumi tries to act as if everything’s fine while the porn is still playing in the background, but Kazusa storms out, knowing now that everything she thought of Izumi was starting to slowly dissipate knowing that the boy she thought she knew since she was a child has grown up and already has a heightened interest in sex. As she runs, the animation hits its most creative streak as she is flustered by all of the sexual innuendoes she sees in the signs, ending when Kazusa breaks down, crying over the thought of losing that feeling of innocence she had when she first locked eyes with Izumi if sex is going to interfere with her connection with him. And then it all ends with the symbolism of a train running underneath her feet as it passed into a tunnel. There are plenty of shows this season that have been entertaining or humorous, but none come as close to creating the level of sentimentality and depth as Araburu by giving us a meaningful and amusing glimpse of what it means to have to figure out your place in the world as you start to learn about sexuality. It’ll be interesting to see how the anime pulls off the next episode as it handles the aftermath of Kazusa seeing a different side of Izumi.
ED: 「ユメシンデレラ」 (Yume Cinderella) by Asakura Momo