「深い記憶」 (Fukai kioku)
It really is funny how there’s an inverse relationship between how hard Fumetsu no Anata e tries to be heartbreaking, and how heartbreaking it actually is. Thinking back on it that’s true of Ooima Yoshitoki’s first series Koe no Katachi as well to an extent, too. It had a tendency to pluck the heartstrings a little too enthusiastically at times, just as Fumetsu did in the Yanome arc. But when it just showed the main trio (I include Yuzuru in that, despite what you’d think from the movie) interacting in more or less normal ways, it was incredibly powerful.
Watching these scenes with Fushi, Gugu (and later Rean) play out, you really get that sense of being prepped for heart surgery without an anaesthetic. What an incredible brother chemistry Gugu and Fushi have – there’s so much authenticity to these moments, especially given how bizarre the situation is. Not for the first time I’m reminded a bit of Made in Abyss, which has that same quality in spades. Fushi is flashing some seriously useful new moves here (even if his creator isn’t impressed) – like creating food from thin air for the starving Gugu. Apparently the stronger an item stimulates Fushi – and facing starvation yourself is pretty visceral – the easier it is for him to recreate it.
Gugu is such a good boy, truly. Every relationship he’s ever cherished has been ripped away from him, so it’s hardly a surprise that he treasures his newfound brother the way he does. His low-key but heartfelt apology for experimenting on Fushi is exactly how a kid his age would go about it. And it’s clear that Fushi is emotionally growing by leaps and bounds – this is the most substantial (and even-handed) human relationship he’s ever had. Gugu is temperamentally inclined to be hopeful, but life has bred a profound sense of fatalism in him – and it’s heartbreaking (yes, that word again) to see it in a child so young. His conversation with Fushi after he learned about Fushi’s essential nature was a real gut punch.
The arrival of Meer shakes things up substantially. Meer has a habit of running away (he clearly takes after his mistress in that sense), and Rean eventually shows up on his heels. There’s a profoundly effective bit of misdirection right before she does, but her arrival causes great alarm for the maskless Gugu, who’s still in love with her after all. Rean tells him that the Booze Man has said he’s sorry and agreed to remove what he implanted in Gugu’s belly, but the boy is determined not to go back. Eventually Fushi darts off to find Gugu’s discarded mask, on the grounds that its return will change his mind about returning to the old man’s house.
Here follows yet another truly fantastic scene, as Gugu desperately prays for Fushi to return as soon as possible. Rean and Gugu likewise have a great chemistry, and this is a brilliant juxtaposition of comedy and pathos. Rean is a classic poor little rich girl, and even the smitten Gugu can’t help but he irritated by her complaints in life. Her “terrible wound” is a tiny almost-healed scar on her arm. Her complaints with her home are that she gets too much food, too much attention and is never alone. How could someone in Gugu’s place not be aghast to listen to all this? He’s got enough sense to realize she’s being kind of an idiot but not enough to keep quiet about it.
Gugu’s story just keeps getting harder to take. He thought he had a family, once, but they turned out just to be a family employing he and Shin as live-in servants. They were kind, but when circumstances dictated they left the brothers without a thought. Even before his disfigurement Gugu was alone, wanting nothing more than what Rean wants to be “free” from. But what hurts Gugu the most is that Rean has no idea – well, totally the wrong idea – about how she was hurt. And while he saved her life, he can never tell her. It’s good and to her credit that his face doesn’t seem to bother her, but in a way that just makes things even more painful for Gugu.
People – certainly children – can only know their own experiences. And Gugu is a special child, able to grasp that idea and move past his anger. Declaring that he’s “lost interest in my own circumstances” he agrees to bring Rean “home” – in effect, to be her protector. On the way to find Fushi they’re accosted by one of her father’s searchers, who Gugu liberates Rean from. And after they reunite with Fushi (and the mask) they run into one of Rean’s maids in the woods. Fushi is dispatched to sideline her – he shows great emotional intelligence in how he decides to do it – while Gugu dashes for the house with Rean in-hand.
But the best-laid plans are waylaid by another visit from the mysterious enemy who attacked Fushi in the woods during his travels with Pioran. Fushi has already saved Gugu once, so there’s obviously zero chance Gugu will leave Fushi to fight this battle alone. Gugu has reserves of strength and courage far beyond his years, but this is an opponent far beyond his capacity to comprehend. It’s just that when it comes to standing by his little brother, Gugu is the exact opposite of Shin, and no circumstances can change that about him.