「子どもたちの夢」 (Kodomo-tachi no yume)
“Children’s Dreams “
No matter how much I sugarcoat it, the facts of the matter won’t change. This arc isn’t particularly strong, and that’s perhaps the greatest flaw in the jewel that is Fumetsu no Anata e – the peaks and valleys are very widely spaced. We have our share of episodic journey series of course, not uncommonly in the fantasy vein, and it’s the nature of any such narrative that some arcs will be stronger than others. It does seem to be be more extreme with Fumetsu, however, for whatever reason. Perhaps the fact that Fushi’s nature makes the guest cast so crucial has a lot to do with it, for an arc is only as good as those characters.
What sort of a universe is it where Gugu and Parona are dead, and Tonari lives on? Yes, we know the universe in Fumetsu no Anata e is nothing close to fair. The last thing in the world I wanted at this point of the story was a Tonari flashback, to be honest, because I just find her to be totally unsympathetic (and annoying). And the characters surrounding her – unlike those surrounding Gugu and even March – have never been fleshed out in any meaningful way. Tonari’s origin story felt very perfunctory and really didn’t do anything to move the needle, at least for me.
The other problem I have with all this is that Fushi by now really should know better than to get caught up in all this. Who the hell cares about Tonari and what she wants? At this point Fushi is competing in the tournament in order to help Tonari and her crew escape Jananda – there’s really nothing in it for him. His goal is to free Pioran and escape himself, and he’s going to need a boat for that whether Tonari is tagging along or not. I suppose becoming the leader is one way to get one, but there would surely be others.
Fushi is too kind for his own good, of that there’s little doubt. And hey, Tonari’s friends are mostly kids (she is too of course) and it’s noble of Fushi to want to help them. But Tonari has thoroughly burned that bridge by now, or at least it should be burned. I did find the scene where Fushi accidentally drugged the lot of them reproducing food out of his body to be pretty hilarious, but especially knowing that Hayase was awaiting him in the final round, I just wanted him to grab Pioran and get the hell out of of Dodge.
Easily the emotional highlight of the episode was Pioran’s reaction when Fushi came to her in her cell. Despite her protestations to the contrary she obviously still values her own life, and I don’t think anyone can doubt the genuineness of her bond with Fushi at this point. Whatever her past is, she’s earned Fushi’s trust and loyalty – the exact opposite of Tonari, basically. But of course he puts her off so he can win the tournament and help the kids, and that’s when things really go off the rails.
I think we already knew Hayase had killed Parona. But her attitude towards that moment is revolting, and her recollection of that moment even more so. The crucial thing is that for the first time we see Fushi consciously make a decision – albeit in a fit of rage – to kill a person.. He may have incidentally done so as Oniguma without realizing it, but this is different. This is murderous intent driven by hate – and while one can’t remotely blame him for feeling that way towards the vile Hayase, surely this changes something for him in a fundamental way. This too, perhaps, is a part of his journey in learning what it means to be human.