「14才の放課後」 (Juuyon-sai no Houkago)
“After School at 14”
I don’t know how to structure and divide the sub-topics from this episode. So this is a rare occasion where I’ll go free style. I’ve seen or heard some fair share of horror stories about parents. That said, often times, I hear children complaining about their parents for stuff that’s honestly so trivial. Sure, my parents were extremely strict in the traditional sense. And my upbringing was pretty harsh. But not from lack of care. I can’t say I know what it’s like to have parents who essentially neglect you.
Do I think Neiru and Momoe could have been better friends? Yes. Friends are there to support each other. However, these girls are only 14. I wouldn’t expect them to fully understand the nuances of social cues. Also they happened to accidentally hit Rika’s trigger really hard. Inadvertently too, so I would argue it’s out of their control. And that’s coming from the Rika in my friendship group – the cheery, hyper person who can flare up quite badly if touchy, personal subjects are broached.
Weighed down emotionally, Rika almost gives up and dies to a monster in the Wonder Egg Realm. I think we all had that sense of ominous foreboding when the mannequins talked about losing ‘another one’, as if it’s not the first time a girl died trying to rescue Wonder Eggs. Which makes me feel that one of these girls dying is a matter of when, rather than if.
To surmise, it’s not difficult to understand why Rika resents her mother so much. Many children want closure about biological parents, regardless of whether there are good reasons for this information to be kept away from them. In Rika’s case, her mother’s reasons are very poor. Worse still, she kept leading Rika on and ends up failing to deliver on her promise of revealing a father.
However, I think it’s easy for a child to focus on the negatives. And take whatever their parents tried to provide for granted. This isn’t an attempt to diminish the traumatic experience Rika went through. It clearly affects her so deeply and is a contributing factor to why she self-harms. However, her mother still tried her best, running what looks like a restaurant to ensure there’s a roof over their heads and meals to eat every day. What I see is like the struggles of a single mother – even if we could perceive some of her personal choices to be questionable ones. Rika comes to this realisation at the end. How she wasn’t perfect as a mother to her Wonder Egg pet, and almost let the pet down.
This line of thought helps snap Rika back to her senses, away from her suicidal resignation, and fight to see another day. I think the maturity behind her character progression definitely shouldn’t be understated. No one deserves to go through that kind of experience – one that proves to be an aching kind of growing for Rika. However, in essence, she’s come to accept the fallibility of parents.
What doesn’t add up in this story is how Rika said she doesn’t know who her father is. But that she remembers he gently spoke advice to her. Which suggests her mother knows who her father is? And that they might have met before? Either that, or this being Rika’s dream are the two possible scenarios I can think of. Also, if he’s aware of being Rika’s father, it’s pretty rubbish of him to abandon her like that for most of her life. For Mushoku Tensei, I think we can all agree Paul is a scumbag of the highest order. At the very least though, he takes accountability for his kids in terms of being involved with their lives and is willing to own up when he makes mistakes. That’s like, the minimum I’d expect even from scumbags.
Hopefully this isn’t the last thing we hear about Rika’s quests to find her biological father. However, I understand that everyone has an extremely fascinating backstory. And that air time will needed to cover everybody else too. Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post and see you all next week!