「坊ちゃんと執事と迷い猫」 (Botchan to Shitsuji to Mayoi Neko)
“The Duke, His Butler, and a Lost Cat”
His mother and Philip aside, Bocchan is otherwise surrounded by people who accept him, death curse and all. Rob (Ootsuka Houchuu) is one of them-his deft capability as a butler reminded me a little of Sebastian from Kuroshitsuji (although he looks older than Sebastian and is completely human). Rob is just as fearless around Bocchan as Alice is-almost fatally tapping his shoulder. He claimed it was his eyesight, but he could see well enough to quickly rescue a vase of roses from Bocchan.
With his servants’ affections, it looks like Bocchan is thrown into a running gag of simultaneously dodging Alice’s smoldering touch and Rob’s accidental brush. The final scene where he was practically leaping away from the cat, Rob, and Alice was the most hilarious scene of the episode. Normally this kind of gag becomes tiresome for me (not to mention the uncomfortable nature of Alice’s harassment), but with Shinigami Bocchan they do it in such a way that it builds upon the character.
Bocchan doesn’t remain stuck in the role of a perpetually awkward, shy male lead who only ever fends off the amorous lady’s advances. While he remains awkward around Alice (and adorably so, especially in the scene where he can’t focus on piano-playing), he also gains the courage to make advances of his own-suggesting a dance with Alice, social-distanced style (although less than the 6-foot kind we are all used to by now). I am so happy they adapted this scene from the manga-this was one of my favorite scenes from what I read thus far. The physical distance between them did not matter-you could feel the emotional distance closing in between them.
The eloquence Bocchan cannot put into words, he pours into music- writing a song for Alice. Like the rest of his life, Bocchan’s hopes and happiness in romance are tinged with melancholy-reflected in his wistfully sorrowful love song, which Alice at first mistakes for a requiem. This doesn’t put her off and his feelings of passionate longing get across to Alice in the end. As frustrating as it is for Bocchan to not be able to touch Alice, this curse allows them to explore ways of expressing their feelings that don’t involve the typical embrace or kiss-making it interesting to see what they come up with next.
One of the big surprises is Bocchan’s sister, Viola (Minase Inori). I was astonished he had a sister-in his, it only showed his mother and group of peers. Was her absence in his flashbacks due to her being born after his family abandoned him or because her warmth towards him is not haunting like the rejection from his mother? At the family dinner table, we also saw another boy-presumably Bocchan’s brother. I wonder if we will be seeing more of him soon or if he shares his mother’s coldness towards Bocchan.
Viola does not take after their mother in neglecting Bocchan-paying him a surprise visit. Like Rob and Alice, Viola also is comfortable being around Bocchan, holding a forthright conversation instructing him in popularity with the ladies (although it is apparent she is not the expert she thinks is). I honestly found her annoying. Why is it that in some romantic comedies, the family is irritating (I also found this to be the case in (Tonikaku Kawaii)?! Regardless of her annoying status, she clearly plays an active role in his life, whether he wants her to or not.
Having people around him who do not recoil in fear at his presence will go a long way in helping Bocchan to accept himself. The curse is not just physical, but also emotional and mental in how it isolates him from society. Even if the physical aspect of the curse never breaks (which I hope it does), with the help of Alice, Rob, and Viola, the emotional/mental aspect of it will be broken once he accepts their love for himself.