「新しい家族」 (Atarashī kazoku)
Fumetsu no Anata e reaches its anime halfway point with a remarkably eventful episode. Pretty much every major thread that’s run through the series ran through this week’s ep, and the plot was advanced on multiple fronts. Mostly it centered around what’s indisputably the core relationship in the series at this point, Fushi and Gugu – monster brothers who aren’t monsters at all, and whose bond deepens with every obstacle life throws at them. I’m a sucker for sibling relationship stories in anime (not the Oreimo kind, obviously) and even if these two aren’t even the same species, never mind related by blood, theirs is one of the most winning in many a season.
If we know anything about Gugu, we know that he’s basically impossible to intimidate – he feels fear but basically ignores it. That, and that he’s immensely loyal to those he cares about. Whether he’d be such a brave boy if his accident hadn’t caused him to value his life so cheaply we’ll never know, but I don’t think it matters that much. Simply put there’s no effing way Gugu is going to run off and let Fushi deal with the creature attacking him – even if Joann-Fushi threatens to bite him.
Gugu remembers what Pioran said – that the creature that attacked Fushi in the woods seemed like a tree monster of some kind. Fire and liquor are an explosive combination and Gugu is smart enough to make the connection, but after being whacked across the forest he pukes up all the firewater in his gut. That means swallowing his pride so he can swallow more likker, so Gugu heads back to the Booze Man’s house. Unfortunately the liquor is leaking into his system somewhere, which leads to some interesting twists when Rean’s family turns out to have come to collect her. A more badass confession you’ll never see (“Deal with it”) – too bad it didn’t seem to take.
Rean’s first world problems never really get past the poor little rich girl level, but they’re not really supposed to. Her folks aren’t even awful, just kind of unhinged from the reality of their daughter’s life in the way wealthy folks actually often are. Pioran is irritated enough with them not to let them walk out the door, knowing what’s likely going to happen (Rean turning up again like a bad penny) if they do, but events of greater urgency await in the woods. By the time Gugu gets back (and sobers up) though, Fushi is nowhere to be found – just something that looks like Oniguma but isn’t.
Gugu does what Gugu does – punch above his weight. And a tree being weak against fire hardly comes as a surprise. When it’s all said and done, Fushi returns to whence he began – a rock – until his creator unleashes him again, But he’s not happy with Fushi’s progress, clearly. The monsters have a name (because he gave them one), Nokkers. And the Nokkers plan to destroy the world, which Fushi seems to be the key to preventing. He urges but does not compel Fushi to leave, on the grounds that it’s by moving and associating with new beings that he grows stronger. But Fushi’s loyalty to Gugu has grown fierce, and he refuses. The creator offers him the choice to stay, but does so in rather ominous terms.
That leads up to… four years in the future, I timeskip that took me by surprise on first reading. Gugu is seriously buffed out, Rean is still dropping by the shop, and Fushi has now successfully learned to cook. The headline here, certainly, is that Fushi has aged four years – he has stubble now. And if there was anything that foreshadowed this possibility I don’t remember seeing it. It’s a game changer of course, and the more one thinks about it the more profound and vexing the implications seem to be. Fortunately, Fumetsu no Anata e isn’t the sort of series that makes you suffer through interminable waits for things to happen – there’s always forward progress with this story, and answers to go along with the new questions it brings.