「キツネノカミソリ」 (Kitsune no Kamisori)
“The Orange Fox`s Lilies”
And so, Rika has finally found love and Kazusa is now in a relationship with Izumi. End of story, right? WRONG! In fact, the show’s only begun as Niina is making her first move to try to pull the rug from under Kazusa’s feet and sweep Izumi off of his, Momoko battles over whether she wants to protect her oldest friend or curry favor with her newest one, and things get dicey for Milo as Hongou goes on the offense to blackmail him for sex.
Taking inspiration from literary masterpieces such as Fatal Attraction and Body Heat, Hongou uses her knowledge of Milo’s crush on Tomita-sensei to gain leverage towards her mad pursuit for her teacher. While the other girls (save for Niina) at the very least have issues that can be realistic for your average high schooler to experience, Hongou’s side of the story always felt like it was too scripted, too Hollywood, and too over-the-top to evoke any feeling other than disgust. It loses its central ethos of “dumb kids doing silly things for love” when it reaches the extreme point of threatening to expose your teacher for humoring your sexual curiosity, destroy his career, and ruin any chances he has with someone he actually likes if he didn’t accept your proposition to have sex with him. That’s not to say that Milo’s innocent given how he definitely told her to expose herself to him on multiple occasions and that’s enough of a smoking gun that I’d fire the dude if I were principal. But from a narrative point of view, it doesn’t even have the level of spiciness that the Niina/Kazusa conflict has because it’s so far out of left field that it’s completely isolated from the rest of the girls. Rika’s love gave her a way to relate to Kazusa. Momoko’s crush gave her a reason to get invested in the Kazusa/Niina conflict, and Niina is wedging herself between Kazusa and Izumi. For Hongou, however, she’s fully isolated from the rest of the girls and, based on how messy and sloppy her side of the story is, it shows. We’re supposed to feel something from all of this, but there’s no reason to empathize with either Hongou or Milo because they’re two desperate people doing absolutely reckless things that go beyond anything else happening within the show. It’s reminiscent of Korean dramas involving a group of girls where four of them are just trying to get along and fall in love with their closest friends, but the fifth one has a dark past involving murder mysteries, the supernatural, and uncomfortable sexual encounters. Hongou’s story always shifts the tone away from any kind of drama that wouldn’t involve direct involvement from the police.
There have been past moments where Niina has soured on me, but her bad behavior is pushing the plot forward. Whether its a good or bad direction is within the eye of the beholder but compared to blackmailing the teacher into sleeping with you, infidelity drama wins out any day of the week. What helps Niina’s case for being outwardly aggressive enough to get Izumi to grope her on the train is the fact that Izumi is still highly confused about his feelings. He does feel deeply close with his new girlfriend, but at the same time, the divide between friend and girlfriend is still hard for Izumi to comprehend. And because he’s seen Kazusa as a sister his entire life, the expectations that he has to be close and romantic with her feel too awkward to handle. Could he see himself having sex with someone who was horrified to learn that he masturbates? Would she be comfortable holding hands? Would he even be comfortable with that? There are many questions racing through his mind as a young boy going through puberty, and Niina, under the tutelage of her pedophilic acting teacher, is actively taking advantage of his uncertainty by playing into his weaknesses. It doesn’t help that, in Niina’s pursuit to lose her virginity to the most suitable candidate, Momoko has information knowing that this particular candidate is Izumi. What she does with this information is a mystery though as she’s quick to do damage control for Niina by trying to convince Kazusa that she isn’t a threat and even if she is, she is confused herself so Kazusa should pay no mind to it. What Momoko is willing to cover up next may determine which direction she takes, but from the looks of it, Momoko will definitely contribute much more to the plot if it means having a chance with Niina.