「白い雪、黒い服」 (Shiroi Yuki, Kuroi Fuku)
“White Snow, Black Clothes”
Bocchan’s family is becoming a little less mysterious, having been introduced to little sister Viola and now younger brother Walter. That just leaves Mother (and Father who is never mentioned, much less appears). Overreacting runs in this family and Walter exhibits this family trait in full gusto with his hang-up about being only the second son and second in line to succession of family title. I’m not sure what his deal with that is, if he has a thing for money and power or if he wants the recognition of Mother, or some other as yet unnamed reason. I don’t think he has anything (from what I’ve seen) to recommend him as a better family head than Bocchan. If anything, I think Bocchan would be the best choice, for his kindness and down to earth nature (as opposed to stuck up aristocrat).
He let drop an interesting tidbit that Mother is still hoping for Bocchan’s curse to break and return to the family. This flies in the face of everything that’s been hinted thus far about Mother from Bocchan’s perspective about abandoning him and threatening to give away his inheritance to Walter. Either Walter in his paranoia about being the second son is misreading Mother or she has some guilt (in addition to fear of death) that is distancing herself from Bocchan.
Someone who does not distance herself from Bocchan is Cuff. Cuff returns again to the manor, this time for a lesson in reading and writing-all to impress Zain. Cuff doesn’t outright admit her feelings for Zain, but with the effort she puts into trying to impress him, it is clear what he means to her. I had to laugh that she and Zain went to work for the circus-with the sideshow they put on with their antics at Bocchan’s house and the witch’s coven, it was only a matter of time before they found their true calling.
What goes around comes around and the kindness Bocchan once showed Alice in her time of need returns to him via Alice in his darkest hours. Throughout the series, we have seen a little of how much Bocchan has grown in his confidence with owning his relationship with Alice and his own self-worth. Seeing the depth of his self-loathing, lying dejectedly in a messy room in a half-dressed state emphasized that the Bocchan we see now awkwardly interacting with new friends, puttering around the house in suit and hat was not the Bocchan that was always there. While Rob was there as a support, it is obviously Alice who was the catalyst for this change in Bocchan-without her, there would have been no Bocchan to speak of.
Back then (they don’t give a timeline, so I’m not sure how far back it goes), Bocchan was even more of an emotional mess than he is now. In his outbursts of anger and self-isolation, Bocchan turns the witch’s curse of never being loved into a self-fulfilling prophecy, attempting to reject Alice when she reaches out the friendly hand that he had so been longing for all this time.
We only get scraps of information about Alice’s past, that she was often ill and that her mother passed away. Rob observed that the time spent with her aunt must have been unhappy. Her unhappiness and isolation living with her aunt gives her more in common with Bocchan’s situation than perhaps even Rob, allowing her to do for him what Rob could not do-heal. Much as he complains, Bocchan as time progresses slowly clothes himself more-first the hat, then the gloves, then the orange shirt, representing the healing that only Alice could give him through her history, their shared childhood, and her persistent affirmations.
Not able to think of any other way to get rid of her, Bocchan issues an ultimatum-clean out his pigsty of a room in 3 days or pack her bags. This is following a standard challenge seen in fairy tales, where the giant, king, or whoever issues a similar ultimatum to the prince in shining armor to clean out his stable if he wants to marry the princess. An apt foreshadowing of the direction in which Bocchan and Alice’s relationship will head after she clears his challenge with flying colors.