「夏空の色, 水色の少女」 (Natsuzora no Iro, Mizuiro no Shoujo)
“The Girl of Summer-Sky Aqua”
A CHANGE OF SEASON, A GROWTH IN CHARACTER
It seems this week’s episode of the season’s favorite Slice of Life is a culmination of everything that’s happened thus far. Six months have passed since the beginning of the school year and two seasons have gone by. Six episodes ago we were at “No parents, no hobbies, no money, no friends, no goals”—which to me, a practitioner of introspection, translated to “I am alone because I am disconnected from others and I have no purpose”.
It’s all too common to carry around certain fear-based stories (some variation of “I’m alone,” “I’m not safe,” or “I’m bad”) which are really decisions formed in reaction to trauma. The trauma might be a single event, or a collection of events grouped over time. And we hope and expect these stories will protect us from the trauma repeating. And so a decision is made: a decision about who we are or how the world is in a general and permanent sense. If I tell myself, “I’m bad because I’m stupid and boring and nobody wants to listen to me,” I don’t mean sometimes or on specific occasions. I mean this is who I AM. I mean to say this is part of my permanent identity, and that’s why it hurts so much.
The tricky thing about this kind of narrative is, although they are always fictional because of their claim to permanence and generality, like any good story they can coincide with the truth on occasion. In Koguma’s case her story, “No parents, no hobbies, no money, no friends, no goals,” is a statement of her subjective narrative rather than an objective state of being. It might be a fact that she had no parents, very little money, no hobbies, no friends and no goals. But why would her character line all these up in a row, as if they mean the same thing? Are all of these inherently equivalent and of the same nature? No. She was making this MEAN something about who she was: in her case, “I’m alone because I have nobody and no purpose.” To be clear, again, I’m not saying these statements are entirely false on an objective level in every specific scenario. I’m saying these statements are statements of meaning—permanent and general meaning. And on this level they are fictions, through and through.
It sucks to believe you’re permanently alone, but sometimes these stories seem like the only real things we have to hold onto. They become part of a familiar identity, and we’re good at navigating the familiar. These beliefs about identity inevitably lead to reactions in the form of behavior. In Koguma’s case she isolated and closed herself from possible interactions or experiences, and so was able to stay within the familiar identity she’d built. Until she bought her Cub.
What I found most meaningful about this episode was seeing how much she’s grown from that place, and how she noticed and truly observed another person for the first time. Out of her own interest. No outside influence. Koguma never noticed Reiko, she was accosted by her and then became interested. The remaining interactions she had didn’t have any special depth: briefly interacting with her classmates during Home Ec., Shino’s Ojiichan, the teacher who gave her a job, and the literature teacher from the other school. She didn’t seem interested in understanding any of them.
ABOUT MAKING CONNECTIONS
And how do we, as people, best connect with others? Through listening, observing and being empathetic. I also mentioned in my previous analysis that I see the Cub as a representation of what Koguma is capable of once she lets go of her attachment to this identity fiction. My fellow farmers: our harvest has been a good one.
Koguma once daydreamed of interacting with her classmates, and now she steps in to help them with the school festival. She was once silently annoyed by Reiko’s high levels of excitement and lack of focus for shopping, and now she’s comfortable enough to drag her friend back into what needs to be done. I find Koguma a fascinating character. She is introverted, disagreeable, a little sassy, open to experience, moderately assertive and is very low in neuroticism. For a female main character in a Japanese series we can all agree this is quite unusual. I knew this show was going to be a slow-paced coming of age story about blooming into oneself. And I’ve got to be honest, I find it pretty indulgent.
As for Shii-chan’s character: “This delicate young girl, who was so busy taking care of matters, now looms a little larger than she did before. A pale, washed-out light blue. That was my impression of her. But it appears now that I was mistaken. Yes, for you see… Though the hue was a light one, it was the color of a bright and sunny summer sky.”
Although people appear a certain way I find as I grow older that there’s always more depth, more motives and more meaning behind behavior. Through her observation, Koguma realized how small her first perception about Shii-chan was. This seems like another step in the direction of Koguma bridging the intimacy gap once created by her “I’m alone” identity fiction. I feel like we’ve come a long way~
Full-length images: 36.