「⾶び上がり星 りゅうこつ星 力ノープス」 (Tobiagari Hoshi -Riyuukotsuhoshi Kanoupusu-)
“Canopus -The Keel-“
It’s a phrase you hear enough to where it kind of loses meaning, but it really fits Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia – this series is a vibe. It’s true in the manga, it’s true in the anime (it’s also true in Lidenfilms’ other insomnia anime, actually). You feel the mood of the characters so deeply through the events playing out on the page or screen. To an extent all romance series especially fall under that umbrella, but this one especially relies on that effect more than on traditional narrative levers.
In order for us to feel how wonderful it is for Ganta to be with Isaki, it’s necessary for us to feel how awful it is for him most of the time he isn’t. Ojiro Makoto is very good at conveying that in the manga, and I think (nah, I know) this was the most success the anime has had on that score. It starts with that bus trip, that awful bus trip. Made worse by the promise he made with Isaki ringing in Ganta’s ears, reminding him of how he’ll suffer if he doesn’t get any sleep. That’s the thing about insomnia, you see – you’re fully aware of the price you pay for it, and that just makes it worse.
Haida is the culprit, of course. Perhaps he doesn’t know how badly Ganta suffers, but the mask and ear plugs certainly get the point across that he’s desperate to sleep. His loudmouth buffoonery robs Ganta of any rest on the trip, even as Isaki and her mates are cheerfully playing word games and arguing the merits of camping. Whether Haida is committing deliberate sabotage here is practically irrelevant – the end result is the same either way. And you can feel the stress building in Ganta to the point where it’s physically stressful to watch it.
Things don’t improve when the campsite is reached, still under deep overcast. Even in his exhausted state Ganta still overperforms as usual (I’m guessing he put up the tent solo in addition to making the curry, which considerably surpasses whaat Team Isaki can conjure up). Haida continues his antics in the tent, made worse when Hakui-sensei torpedoes his plan to hang out in the girls’ tent. The other guys then snore all night, and the next morning gorilla Hakui finds time to again mock Ganta for his disorder as he’s forcing the boys to run laps.
By the time night two rolls around, Ganta is pretty much a wreck (like us). But then the weather turns, and with it the mood – in a fashion that could hardly be more dramatic. Ganta sneaks out of the tent after failing to fall asleep, only then realizing the stars are out. He heads for the beach and his fated rendezvous, and sure enough Isaki (who travels with a lot of pills) is there waiting for him. And this oppressive world of shadows becomes a starlit canvas of reflection and light, of hidden beauty in every puddle and obvious beauty in other places.
In this moment, Ganta goes from a kind of walking death to being completely and totally alive, and ages down from an old man to a giggling schoolboy. It’s the genius and miracle of Insomniacs that this feeling comes across so clearly, like the miracle it must surely feel like to Ganta. This is what love feels like the first time for most of us, but these two – who share a private misfortune few others can understand – feel it that much more. I don’t know exactly how far away from the campsite they were when Ikari started with that scream therapy (I hope it was a kilometer at least) but it’s hard not to be wrapped up in the moment with the two of them.
As I said once before, the greatest gift these two can give each other is the internal peace they need to sleep. Ikari reveals the truth – the sunny exterior she projects belies the anxiety that keeps her awake when she’s alone in the dark. And even if its beating a lot faster than the last time (quite to be expected) it’s still Ganta’s heart that calms that anxiety and lets Ikari rest. They’re a world of two and that’s all the world they need, but the rest of the world is still out there waiting to impose its will on them in all sorts of ways. That’s part of being a teenager of course, but once again, for these two it takes on that much more immediacy.
I find myself really wishing Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia was airing in the summer (or had aired in the winter), because it really deserves to command the spotlight more than it does. It’s not the sort of series that reaches out and grabs you by the throat, demanding attention. It draws you in slowly, persuading you rather than demanding that you enter its world. There are so many shows this spring doing so many wonderful things, but this one is a unique and very special exploration of the human condition.
they are doing a pretty good job at capturing the manga atmosphere, I’m pretty satisfied so far
Oh my god, Rui Haida was SOOO annoying in this episode. I wanted to punch this kid; Rui Haida needs a smackdown.
I am still trying to understand how reopening this club will help Ganta and Isaki improve their insomnia. I get that Usako was trying to help them not lose the one place the kids could hang out. I don’t see any effort to improve the condition Isaki and Ganta are suffering caused of their disability.
Is there something the nurse can do to help with insomnia? I can’t think of anything other than allowing them to sleep somewhere on campus.