「生生流転（でも立ち止まるのもありですかね）」 (Seiseiruten (Demo Tachidomaru no mo Ari Desu ka ne))
“Life is Constant Change (But It’s Okay To Stop And Appreciate It)”
Do You Remember Love?
What does it mean to love another person unconditionally?
For me, we can find the answer in the little details, on top of those huge gestures. Like when Kanna asks Saikawa to live a long life, as a dorogon who knows she will vastly outlive her beloved friend, is a veiled expression that is subtly packed with so much love. Starkly contrasted by raunchier insinuations that Iruru poses of making Take into an adult, before they get into a deep talk about what maturity and growing up mean. Or Shouta getting visibly flustered, jealous and possessive over the idea of Lucoa teasing anyone else. There are signs of unconditional love all over the place. And a wonderful festival paired with a cherry blossom viewing makes for a perfect stop off to this season of Maid Dragon. We know how far everyone has come along from the low points in their life, and can be reassured that they will continue to do well.
Kobayashi goes from being an office worker aimlessly going about life, to having Tohru as a partner in crime, as well as taking on the orphaned, radicalised Iruru and the abandoned Kanna craving motherly love as foster children. Fafnir went from being a reclusive and disdainful dragon to hardcore nerd culture whilst acknowledging a puny, mortal human in Takiya as his equal partner. Elma went from being alone, abandoned by Tohru to finally making amends with her while living out her best life as an office lady using her salary to procure delicious goods. And Lucoa went from being exiled from being the disgracefully exiled goddess, all alone, to becoming Shouta’s familiar. And I’m not too sure on the exact specifics of Shouta’s family life. To me it seems he’s a bit timid. But I could believe that his father is the typical CEO of a Japanese company who spends most of his time away from home working. Having Lucoa there as an older sister helps fill that emotional void.
The apex of this season came to me in the form of Tohru’s proclamation that she would love Kobayashi forever and ever was so tenderly heartfelt, which achingly tugged at my heartstrings. So simple. Yet so fucking beautiful. KyoAni with their outstanding firework and cherry blossom cinematography and Kuwahara Yuuki’s rendition of Tohru combine in a dreamlike way, making that scene feel like reality. And it’s these moments of magic, moments of joy, which truly define KyoAni for what they are: the figurative manifestation of Jesus Christ of the anime industry. They treat the people under their care fairly. They can perform miracles of turning mundane scenes into brilliantly delightful ones that make hearts flutter with unceasing joy. Kill them and they come back stronger than ever. With followers who will love and believe in them with every fibre of their being till the day we die.
Aozora no Rhapsody, Maid Dragon’s very first opening theme, brings us full circle. Crazy to think that so many people who started this journey are no longer with us. If I’d come out of a coma unaware about the arson attack, I wouldn’t have thought twice about whether any staff had changed or if KyoAni’s production budget had dipped. But it’s an absolute testimony to Kyoto Animation produced Season 2 without losing a beat. As far as I’m concerned, the staff can be extremely proud of themselves that they honoured the memories and dreams of the people who passed on; the steadfast veterans and plucky newcomers with big shoes to fill. Takemoto would definitely be staring down from heaven at Ishihara with a smile on his face.
The arsonist might have killed many people at Kyoto Animation, a truly reprehensible crime that goes far beyond my comprehension. But he could never kill the ideas, beliefs and dreams that they embodied. And that the studio continues to represent. Or the love and adoration of fans. Unparalleled talent, vision and ethos is the bare minimum to survive such a catastrophe. At times I felt disillusioned, believing they had lost their way or magic touch because their style marked a clear departure from shows like Clannad After Story, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, etc. They were my first anime love and it made me feel bitter to see them changing their identity from what I had known and loved it to be. To become disgracefully lesser in pandering for moe trends that felt so lacking in substance.
But hindsight is a real bitch. I now know I was blissfully ungrateful for what I had and can only mourn what is lost. Like The Little Prince discovered that there was only one rose for him, I do not believe any other animation studio will come this close to my heart in my lifetime. Change is inevitable. Yet I’ve come to accept it’s okay to reminisce and ache for those times that will never come back, while still being in love with the same entity as it currently is. In my opinion, this definitely marked a triumphant return from Kyoto Animation and I’m eagerly anticipating where they go from this point, since I am full of belief they will only go on to achieve greater things even with the likes of Yamada Naoko moving on.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading and following these Maid Dragon posts and see you all around!