OP: 「満月とシルエットの夜」 (Mangetsu to Silhouette no Yoru) by (Bocchan (Natsuki Hanae) & Alice (Ayumi Mano))
「坊ちゃんとアリス」 (Botchan to Arisu)
“The Duke and Alice”
The titular characters Bocchan (Hanae Natsuki) and the maid, Alice (Ayumi Mano), embody the central contrast of a boy who cannot touch any living thing and a maid who does everything she can to stir up his desire to touch a living thing (her). Bocchan’s depressing life is stirred up when Alice constantly harasses him by dangling forbidden fruit (or dare I say, fruits) in front of him.
I will get this out there now- while Alice’s sexual harassment is not o.k. given how uncomfortable it makes Bocchan, from the plot’s standpoint it serves a purpose, which I will get into later.
Bocchan hates his body for the curse a witch placed upon him in childhood. Understandably so-who wouldn’t recoil from themselves if you became a walking agent of death-you couldn’t even touch your parent. Bocchan hides himself behind his hat-keeping it next to him in bed (a cute detail).
Alice turns this self-loathing on its head-treating his body as desirable. From the way Alice cares for him in pestering him to eat, she won’t allow Bocchan to remain in his current depressive state. Harassment is her way of forcing him to a point of self-acceptance, through how Alice accepts and cares for him. I look forward to seeing how she helps him heal. Already we see a change in Bocchan, with his completely eaten meal and acknowledgment of Alice’s work at the episode’s end. I hope they find a way to break Bocchan’s spell. Either that or invent Alice a death-resistant suit.
Bocchan’s daily existence is a living hell. He is gentle, doing his utmost to avoid touching and killing a butterfly-only to bump into and kill a tree, bringing it on top of him. During Philip’s visit-Bocchan, like most hosts would do, automatically reacts to an overturned vase- only to kill the flowers. This curse prevents him from normal activities and weighs especially hard on his gentle, kind character- having desires for normal things like love, but believing he has nothing but death to offer.
Bocchan is so innocent and starved for human interaction, he views memories of Philip’s pranks through the rosy colored lens of “friendliness”. Upon meeting Philip, it becomes clear that Philip’s attentions were not friendship, but cruel pity. Philip is a foil to Bocchan. Compared to how Bocchan exudes low self-esteem, Philip radiates overconfidence with his slicked back hair and tone of voice. Bocchan’s isolation is emphasized with his sole maid compared to Philip’s retinue of servants.
I wonder if we will see more of Philip. Jealousy of how well put-together Philip is may spur Bocchan to boldness with Alice and Philip could stand to learn from Bocchan’s gentle kindness. Philip is terrified of Bocchan, bringing an escort to protect him at Bocchan’s slightest move. Philip is at least honest in admitting that his motivation for coming was to be Bocchan’s mother’s seeing eye.
Bocchan’s family situation is not happy. His family abandoned him after traumatizing him. They never say what they did to him, but clearly it was terrible with how family mealtimes made him averse to eating. Now, they seek to disown him legally. We don’t know the curse’s reason. If it is anything like a fairy tale, a witch’s jealousy or wrath could have been invoked by his family. In addition to natural fear of death, their rejection could be a way to distance themselves from whatever dark deed they committed that may have invited his curse. All just speculation at this point, but we hopefully will find out more in coming episodes (I haven’t read that far yet in the manga).
I want to mention one of the most glaring things about this show-the animation. The CGI is certainly a draw-back, but it isn’t as horrendous of CGI as other shows (Kingdom, looking at you) so I can deal with it. The background art is intriguing, however, with how it looks like a picture painted on a canvas, which fits with the European vibes. Visuals aside, I enjoy this series for the characters. I love kind Bocchan’s sweet, awkward innocence and Alice’s fierce love for Bocchan in seeing the good in him that he himself can’t yet see.
For anyone who enjoys romantic comedy, stay tuned-there are many more moments of adorableness to come, from what I’ve read in the manga and seen in this episode. If you are a fan of European fairy tales, this would also be your cup of tea-it has its own take on the standard convention of a witch’s curse and a budding love, all set in a European background.
ED: 「夜想曲（ノクターン）」 () by (Alice (Ayumi Mano))