「ムワムワ いろいろ」 (Muwamuwa Iroiro)
“Heat and Complications”
I knew that Mika was going to spy on Sou and Mitsumi’s date, though thankfully she didn’t try to interfere. Nao-chan couldn’t let things go either and hopped on board in disguise. I can’t blame Nao-chan for worrying that Sou might be playing around with her niece. While Mitsumi is open-hearted, quirky, and smart, she isn’t the “cool” or “popular” type that one would imagine the school prince to go for, so without knowing Sou, it would be easy to jump to such a conclusion. Luckily, Mika clears that up for Nao-chan “He isn’t like that”.
Mika overthinks- a lot- and tends to put a negative interpretation on what she sees. Sou is chill with the girls because he doesn’t see us as girls compared to the fashion goddess Ririka. He just wants to date the pretty girls. Mika knows that’s not true- she says as much to Nao-chan.
For Mika, it’s a case of the have-nots crowding her judgement. Internally comparing herself to Ririka combined with the knowledge that Sou doesn’t see her in “that” way- I can certainly relate to twisting observations to a negative conclusion. If you assume you’re going to be rejected (which in Mika’s case is true- but because Sou likes Mitsumi and not because of her looks), you run down a litany of the negative things about yourself to explain why you aren’t liked while at the same time unable to stop pursuing that person. It’s a brutal cycle. A cycle which Yuzuki also understands, having gone through a similarly painful experience of trying and failing to fit into middle school cliques. It takes a lot of courage, experience, and social support to break through that cycle.
Nao-chan, ever the “I got your back” big sister everyone needs, sees right through Mika and encourages her to turn back. She understands (from personal experience, it looks like) the insecurity, the fear in Mika that drives how she presents herself outwardly and tortures herself inwardly. Mika’s family dinner turned out to be made up excuse to avoid girl talk that would go to uncomfortable places- a case of total overthinking on Mika’s part. These girls aren’t the type to gush all over about dates and the like- they’re a unique bunch and don’t have the pressure (or in Mitsumi’s case) awareness to focus on that.
Mika doesn’t want or even like being a superficial trendy bitch- it’s a survival tactic in the brutal world of teenagerhood. It’s hard for someone with low confidence and a fear of rejection to initially get a steady footing until they’ve had positive experiences to build from. Maybe even one of the reasons she chases after Sou is in the hopes of getting approval from a boyfriend figure, approval which might help her love herself better. Which in the long run, it won’t- that only lasts as long as the boyfriend does.
Insecurity often manifests itself through curling up inside oneself and hiding away, taking it out on others, or putting on a surface act to win others’ approval, which Mika does a combination of all three. I like that the series portrays her like this rather than a binary Case A or Case B “she’s a bitch” or “she’s just a poor soul” situation. IRL, people are a mixture of many emotions and motivations, it’s rarely a Case A or Case B, but an all of the above kind of thing. Unless you’re born with it, there’s no short, easy road to self-confidence and self-love – that takes time, experience, and an open mind.
Mika’s darn lucky she’s got Mitsumi and the other girls on her side who accept her as she is. Much as Mika worries whether she’s like the horrible kids in Yuzuki’s middle school, I really don’t think she’s like them. Yes, she understands them but she doesn’t stoop to acting on that understanding which makes a huge difference between her and them. It’s a positive step that Mika swallows her pride and goes back- I bet she ended up having more of a fun time than she expected, which will hopefully encourage her to continue opening up and stepping out of her comfort zone.
I was not expecting that ending with Sou. I knew he had sad stuff lurking in his past as a child star and with his family situation, but I was not expecting that. They cleverly built up to the reveal, with Mika’s Google search on Ririka that turned up her underage drinking scandal. I wondered if Sou was somehow related to it, them both being child actors and all, but I would never have guessed that he was the one who dragged Ririka into that. It follows that his child acting career, like Ririka’s, died because of that- and hence why he doesn’t want anyone to find out about it.
This is a heavy weight for Sou to carry, so young as he is, and Ririka, even though she’s made a comeback, is hell bent on making sure he never forgets it. I get why she’d be mad- that was her career and a hell she had to trudge through that she may not have had to go through if not for that night. But sometimes you need to try to move on for the sake of a happier future- who wants to be miserable and stuck in the past their whole lives? I think Sou was finally learning how to accept the possibility of a happy future and how to live in the present/future thanks to Mitsumi, so what horrible timing for Ririka. Now that she’s cottoned onto Mitsumi’s presence in Sou’s life, no way is she going to leave Mitsumi alone.