「本という存在」 (Hon to Iu Sonzai)
“The Purpose of Books “
Literature is like a series of doors that hold multiple truths, multiple realities, and multiple philosophies. This week’s episode explores how convenient it is that the story takes place in a Literature Club with the girls starting to realize that their current interpretation of reality is seen through their collective experiences with books. But whereas they only thought they’d be consuming fiction as joyous time-filler, they come to terms with the realization that they will have to reflect on their past readings in order to find the answers they are looking for to their troublesome questions.
In an unpredictable turn of events, Rika turned out to have the quickest transition into the popular crowd as her new make-over had attracted the attention of her peers who have otherwise been cold or aloof about her existence. I really enjoy the character of Jujo because the newfound appreciation that her classmates have for Rika’s new looks gave her an opening to be more earnest about trying to befriend her. She’s bluntly lacking in self-awareness and is gleefully oblivious to seeing how she’d be seen as awkward for proactively attempting to hold a regular conversation with Rika, but from her responses to her more malicious friend and the fact that she brought her lunch today of all days, it seems like she wants to make an effort to turn over a new leaf now that she’s being out-in-the-open about wanting to know more about her. But there are only so many new tricks that an old dog can learn as Rika is still unable to shake off the abrasive parts of her personality, especially since she’s still used to the idea of being a social pariah. It’s at this point where we see a poignant turn for Rika as Shun makes good on his word for completing her “writing assignment”. Stylistically, the anime pulls off something impressive as the cruelty her peers have given to her is quickly washed away by his words “cute” raining down upon her. While the show is heavily focused on sex, with Rika’s arc, it takes a far more meaningful turn by shifting her development towards the idea of being accepted by her peers and being seen as not so much as desirable, but rather as someone who isn’t absolutely undesirable.
Momoko also has some time to shine within the episode as we’re finally given her perspective on the worries that she has about sex taking over her life. She has the same worries as Kazusa about whether every romantic interaction she has will devolve into pressuring her into sex, but for Momoko, things are a bit dicier. She’s attracted attention from Sugimoto, a boy who has had a crush on her since they were kids and ends up exchanging phone numbers with him after he opens up to her away from the disastrous karaoke session she was invited to. But her worries about being disinterested in sex or boys, in general, are something that weighs down on her and based on her reactions to Niina offering her friendship as well as her connection with Kazusa, it’s easy to deduce that she’d be more interested in either of the two girls. It’ll be interesting to see where her story turns out and whether that hunch would be accurate or if Sugimoto is everything she would’ve ever hoped a guy would be like.
But while Rika and Momoko had some neat developments, Kazusa is still going through the same pattern of fawning over Izumi, which isn’t helped by his interest in talking with Niina. Meanwhile, with Hitoha, the story takes a turn for the unrealistic with how much is thrown into her side-story. The rest of the girls feel like they could be your average high schooler, but Hitoha is already an author with actual books released on store shelves and is seeking arousal from Milo-sensei to inspire her work more. Milo is somewhat understandable as someone who took to books while he was ill as a younger teen, but I’m not a fan of how unusual their side of the story is. Where Hitoha reads Milo’s discomfort and disinterest in teen girls as demoralizing and taking his critique of how her writing is similar to an older man as a slight against her lack of experience. It all feels skeevy, unrealistic, and more suitable in a shlocky erotic thriller than a coming-of-age story. Hopefully it’ll begin shaping up on their ends, but for now, it’s still a very enjoyable and intriguing anime.