「僕は抱きしめたい」 (Boku wa Dakishimetai)
“I Want to Hug You”

Fantasy (obviously) doesn’t correlate with reality and Ichi has a big let down when he discovers that girl’s sweat is in fact, just that-nothing rose-scented about it when face to face with Anna’s sweatshirt. It cracked me up so hard that Ichi had to go to the infirmary because he felt funny and didn’t know why, and his horror over the creature controlling his left arm and lower regions. That’s not a Nokker, that’s a first love mixed with hormones, my friend.

Going into this, I was wondering how they were going to handle the subject of the note-passing scene. I remembered from the manga how raunchy it gets, especially because it concerns the girls and anime tends to be more comfortable referencing guys doing that sort of thing than girls (although it’s only the boy’s conjectures of what they fantasize about the girls doing). The anime didn’t disappoint and they went all for the scene, nothing cut out, thankfully. I would have been a little disappointed if they decided to start toning things down-it would lose the beauty of how close to reality it hits with the painfully awkward, off color moments.

The moment in question here is the boys crassly fantasizing about what the girls do with those clean cut finger nails and going so far as to engage them in a crude personality test. Seeing Adachi’s initial elation at the underfisted response quickly fade to horror when he realizes it was Kanzaki was hilarious-not the turn out he was expecting. The boy’s horny handslap interpretations had me dying-foot jobs and threesomes ROFL. The girls were totally playing them, using anything but their own hands, and the boys were eating that up more greedily than Anna a bag of chips. Things escalate from there and Adachi cruelly makes Ichi the delivery boy for a note to Anna. Thinking that it contained a horrifically crude comment, Ichi chivalrously intervenes by swapping it with his Anna-inspired character design (though he swears that she “isn’t inspired by anyone”). This becomes important later on.

Of course, Ichi can’t get that out of his head, left hanging about what Anna’s answer would be. He gets his answer in his “holy ground”, when Anna pins him as a candy thief, prying his hands open for the supposed booty. Anna’s response- she’s a topper. Cutting right to Anna swaying her hips while searching for the missing candy was so perfect. It was fabulously brilliant that the books behind Ichikawa as his gears went spinning and things “took off” were titled Jintai no Shikumi “Structures of the Human Body” and Satsujin Hyakka “Murder Encyclopedia”.

One of my favorite moments was when Ichi realizes that Anna has her eyes on him during basketball practice. As they say, you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball- which Anna wasn’t, and she gets a basketball to the nose. Ichi, feeling responsible for the ensuing bloody nose and trying to take action without being labeled as an awkward creep by others, tries to be furtive about it, only to land himself in an even more awkward position. Anyone who sees him without knowing his thought process would think “WTF”, but knowing things from his side of view, both from his narration and personal experience, it makes total sense why he would be hiding under the hospital bed, watching Anna’s nose bleed get treated.

One of the most pivotal parts of the episode was right at the end. For the first time, Ichi resonates with someone else’s feelings, to the point of crying with them. Then realizing that his drawing that took a great deal of courage to give to Anna in front of her friends while probably thinking she’d just throw it away, only to find out it meant so much that she kept it in her wallet was amazing. What a beautiful moment that needed no words-ending with the sunlight streaming in upon his realization “I love her”. You could see him thinking it before he even uttered it. I genuinely teared up in that moment.

The same question from the last episode is, why is Anna apologizing? The answer- a fear of fear of not meeting up to her mother’s expectations by having to cancel the photoshoot. The day after, she even breaks down, crying about disappointing them, frustrated and upset that she can’t surpass the adults’ expectations for her as a typical teenager. I remember being in middle school and even into adulthood, always thinking I was inconveniencing others and constantly feeling I had something to apologize for, even when there was no conceivable need to do so. Even when people say it’s ok and aren’t put out for a normal mistake, there’s still the disappointment in yourself for not being able to go above and beyond typical, to excel and make them proud.

Anna sets a high bar for herself in so many ways, hinting at an underlying pressure to be perfect. Like the comment during basketball practice where Anna expresses the need to work out to be thin, responding to the girls’ truthful reassurances “You’re already thin enough” with “I’m not as thin as the other models”. That followed by Anna’s fear over being damaged for good if her nose were broken hit hard. Comparison is a dangerous thing, it’s a deep, dark, suffocating pit. Even if people around you praise you for looks, smarts, talents, or what have you, and wishing they could be you, it’s hard to believe them and so easy to point to some other person as the standard you fall short of. It’s hard to accept the praise of others when you don’t love or accept yourself and that’s an awfully hard hole to climb out of, but not impossible.

In that sense, Anna and Ichi share common ground. Anna having a sunnier personality than Ichi covers it up better, in way. From personal experience, people have the tendency to think that people with bright sunny personalities don’t have a care in the world, don’t have insecurities or dark thoughts. Because it’s possible to be bright and cheerful, but still hold those insecurities inside, it can be hard for others to see that and it’s not necessarily something you want others to see, something that feels safer to keep inside, but eats away at you just the same.

I could feel Ichi’s stomach drop out in horror upon realizing his shirt was covered in Anna’s blood and no reason he could think of to explain it. Arguably, going to check on a classmate in the infirmary out of a genuine concern for them is a justifiable enough of a reason, but for a neurotic teenager like Ichi, that wouldn’t occur to him as natural- I would feel the same way if I were in his shoes, being an overthinker myself. The irony is not lost on me, that after fantasizing so much about murdering Anna, Ichi does finally get covered in her blood-but he wasn’t the one who caused it.

I had to chuckle with the scene with Anna and that English teacher, as terribly stereotyped as it was. I admit, it would be a pain to have to explain the same thing to literally every freaking person I met and writing the explanation on her bandage is one (albeit hilarious) way to get around that issue.

Ichi’s awkward thoughtfulness with the tissues at the end was profound. Having had raw emotional moments like Anna in the past and experienced the kindness of people I didn’t know terribly well who left a kind note or a yummy snack and the difference it made in that moment, it got me all emotional seeing Ichi do the same for Anna. Even though Anna didn’t end up crying into the tissues like Ichi thought she would, I can tell you that it was something that made a difference, something she will remember, which I think is pretty obvious from how happy she looked at the end there.

Through all of this emotional upset for Anna, I think it draws Ichi and Anna closer together. Ichi comes to see a more vulnerable side of Anna, giving him an appreciation for how she can see the world in a more mature way beyond sunshine and roses. At the end there, it’s pretty clear that Anna knows who left those tissues, experiencing how Ichi can respond to and support her in a way that maybe the others in her life can’t, drawing her into his orbit.

I know this post has gone on super long, but there was just one more thing I wanted to add. A dear friend, MochitsukiMajo, recently translated the lyrics to the OP and I just loved how the song so perfectly reflects Ichi.

“Setting Sun”

The sun’s crimson glow gently bursts upon your cheek,

We close our eyes to the setting sun.

I give in to the sadness.

My hand trembles in the sun,

I give in to your radiance.

Dusk falls as we make our way homewards.

If I drown myself

In the crimson glow,

I can almost love a part of myself.

When we notice the sun set, with eyes shut tight,

This moment lasts a little longer,

With our eyes shut tight.


  1. Admittedly, I was a bit underwhelmed with the first two episodes even though I enjoyed them. But with this episode, I am hooked! The awkwardness of being that age and experiencing first love is shown very well here with Ichikawa not sure what he is feeling. His realization at the end gave me goosebumps.

    Also seeing Anna crying because of her perception of not living up to expectations really hit me personally. Though I’m better about it now, this was a struggle for me growing up. I’m glad she has a support group that cares about her.

    1. Yes, I love that Anna is given her own depth and struggles-she’s not there merely to prop up Ichi’s character growth. Norio Sakurai really digs down deep into the growing pains of teenagerhood, through both Ichi and Anna’s perspectives and the emotional impact keeps growing from here.

      Princess Usagi

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