「坊ちゃんとアリスと聖夜の誓い」 (Botchan to Arisu to Seiya no Chikai)
“The Duke, Alice, and the Christmas Eve Vow”
“I wish it could be just us two for Christmas, Alice”-so do I Bocchan, so do I (or at least a Christmas without Viola). But, like those certain relatives you may not like but need to graciously allow to darken the door of family gatherings anyway, Viola arrives and with her, Walter.
I am not sure who would take the prize for biggest drama king with their antics of overreacting-Walter or Bocchan. While Walter complains that Bocchan can’t command the room and is a poor excuse for the family heir, it is difficult to take any sort of command after Santa (a.k.a. Walter) just showed up in the chimney-not much could beat that.
After continuous griping over being the second son, Walter finally gets his chance to pick this bone with Bocchan. The root over his frustration stems from being treated as Bocchan’s stand-in, never acknowledged as someone of value who stands on his own. As an oldest child, I’ve never had older siblings to be measured up to, but I’ve heard it said that it can be common for younger children to live in the looming shadow of their elder siblings’ reputations. An issue that would be magnified ten-fold for a wealthy family like Walter and Bocchan’s where title and inheritance come into play. The idea of Bocchan looming large in the family dynamics is clear, even in the names of the characters-Bocchan is the only character who is identified by his title (Bocchan is the word for “young master”) and (at least so far) is given no other name, whereas all the other characters have names not related to their social titles.
In spite of what Walter says about how his mother raised him as a back-up to Bocchan, based on her actions, I am surprised that she still holds hope for Bocchan’s curse to be broken. From the way his mother holds Bocchan at a distance, not acknowledging or visiting him, it would seem like the opposite, actually- that she has given up and would rather not be reminded of it.
While I can empathize with Walter’s frustration at not feeling like he can actually be his own person, at the same time, it is not fair for him to claim that Bocchan has it easy and turn it into a competition of hardships. You can’t objectively measure someone else’s hardships to compare who has it worst-everyone experiences things differently and may have struggles that go deeper than what the other person can see. While Bocchan was not raised under the impression of being second to someone else (which don’t get me wrong, is in itself terrible and an understandable cause for complaint), he has struggled to be treated as somebody at all and not the Grim Reaper. Even now, after Bocchan has changed so much, he still has the need to feel he is allowed to be a person, with his worries about whether he should even partake of something as human as a Christmas party.
Nothing says holiday cheer like a Christmas tree and decorations, which Zain and Cuff bring with them to the party, along with Zain’s creepiness towards Alice. Go figures that when Zain finally musters up the courage to make some of his feelings known to Cuff, she is fast asleep (or is she?). Cuff, naïve girl that she is, believes that Walter/Santa is really Santa (although I don’t know that I can entirely blame her-in a world that has witches, why wouldn’t there also be a Santa?). Wherever they go, Zain and Cuff always spice up the party (and light the fire-too bad they didn’t have a yule log!).