「僕は山田が嫌い」 (Boku wa Yamada ga Kirai)
“I Hate Yamada”
Ah yes, group dynamics- very awkward to navigate, especially if it’s one in which you’re out of your element. Kyo’s resigned dejection at being left out of the club group chat (if one even existed in the first place, it could be just him imagining worst case scenario) hit home. I’ve totally been in his shoes before, that sickening gut punch when you realize you’ve become the odd one out and there’s not much you can do except roll with it, trying to convince yourself that it’s just your lot in life. Looking back though, I think it wouldn’t have been terribly fun or fulfilling to hang out with the cliquey groups anyway. There’s also the distinct possibility that a club group chat never existed in the first place and Kyo’s just imagining worst case scenario or if there was one, perhaps the club members naively assumed Kyo either didn’t have a LINE or wasn’t interested rather than spitefully excluding him. (“So what if it’s just to text my family” ROFL).
It was painful to watch the scene with Chii. Nanpai is a despicable sort, using Chii to try to hook Anna into his group all while having his girlfriend right next to him. As much as she is Anna’s “steel fortress” Chii is relatively naïve about these things and doesn’t realize she’s merely bait, excitedly agreeing to go. I get Anna wanting to spare Chii any hurt that would have come from outright telling her she was being used, hoping Chii might read the room and bail. How do you tell your bestie that the popular guy’s not actually into her, especially when you’re the one he’s actually aiming at- it’s a thorny issue. However, this is one of those “kill the cat with kindness” situations- being nice can become an unintentional cruelty in and of itself. It might have been better to hear the hard truth coming from her closest friend than having it semi-laughingly come from the other girls.
It’s unfair that Anna (and Chii too) has to get caught in the middle (then again, that’s middle school for you), between agonizing over her friend’s feelings and then those fake nice bitches in the library. Kyo, kind boy that he is (and not wholly uninterested in Anna himself), worries- the normal roller coaster ups and downs in the female teenage society put him under constant stress. Eventually he’ll learn that these dramas are tempests in the teapot and resolve themselves in the end. One of the headliner moments from the library confrontation was Anna declaring she has no boyfriend, while looking pointedly at Kyo- those other girls may as well not be there, we all know who that was meant for- that’s a bright neon “available” sign if ever I’ve seen one.
The whole scene where Anna and Chii make up was beautifully done. The way Chii tries to get Anna’s attention and the girls hug- they don’t have to say anything about what happened, but you can feel the underlying tension and this unspoken agreement in the closeness between them that they’ve put it in the past.
Anna was dropping lead-heavy hints there about wanting his LINE ID in the library. If that weren’t already obvious enough, she chose to plop herself down in front of Kyo right after the girls’ conversation about getting all the boys’ LINE IDs. Yet, Kyo still tries to convince himself that there was no way she could have wanted his LINE. I understand his twisted logic- it seems too good to be true for someone who feels he’s on the fringes of society. He eventually starts to accept that maybe she does indeed want that- his awkwardly delayed response when he realizes what she was up to while trying to be clear-headed (“There’s no way” “But what if…”) was true to life- I’ve totally been there. When they finally exchange LINEs at the end- what a happy moment. I could feel his disbelief and joy at the seemingly impossible becoming possible, that maybe things like friendship and with someone like Anna to boot, aren’t so out of reach as he thought. That he doesn’t have to convince himself he hates it- it’s okay to be open about what you want, what you like.
The part where he flashes back to the video game console and tries to find things he doesn’t like about it, to find reasons to not want it was devastating. Better to rip your heart out now than to face wretched disappointment in the long run or so the thinking goes- but that’s not true. Even if you convince yourself you don’t like it, you’re still left with nagging doubts and the pain of trying to kill your hopes. Of course, this all leads back to Anna with Kyo’s struggle with coming to terms with his feelings for her and the nature of their relationship.
That (not so) sly Anna. She knew what she was doing, looking right at Kyo while playing up her closeness with Ishimuro. Jealousy is the name of the game, though for someone like Kyo who believes he never even had a chance, it would only cement that viewpoint rather than spur him into action. Giving him that romance manga to read too- yeah, not a coincidence either- she knew what would be running through his head. Kyo, understandably, starts drawing parallels between his encounters with Anna, but quickly brushes it off as impossible. But now that he’s thought it, there’s no going back. It comes in use and propels things forward, Kyo quoting the manga’s “I never said I didn’t like it” in his make-up scene with Anna.
To have all that followed by Anna cozying up to him at that rather opportune moment sends Kyo’s brain spiraling and hours later, he still can’t stop thinking about it. The part where the girls’ “You’re being used” revelation to Chii haunts Kyo all while the special moments between him and Anna flash through his head hit deep. Obsessing over what Anna meant by that, he twists what the eyes and heart can see into some convoluted logic that he’s just a decoy. Working oneself into a fret over self-blinded judgement and worst case scenarios is an oh so familiar situation. Overthinkers have a talent for that (I can say that, being an overthinker myself at times).
Kyo finally allows himself to believe the truth that Anna would not use him- that she kept the tissues he gave her, yeah- no “user” would do that, he’s not just “a boy in the same class”. Anna cares a lot about what Kyo thinks of her, desperately running after him (even kabe dons him- you can’t get much more parallel to a shoujo universe than that). I’m glad Anna isn’t afraid to pursue him in spite of how Kyo tries to brush her off out of fear, that she sees past his pessimism. Her boldness is very much a key factor in them getting to this point in their friendship, that and Kyo being willing to join along for the ride and slowly open up to her and show some boldness of his own.
It takes a lot of courage to openly admit “Yes, I want that!!!” and to be dedicated to that, no matter what, in spite of the outcome, even not knowing the outcome. That Kyo can take her by the wrist is a big step for him, he is summoning all the courage he has to admit “Yes, I want that!!!”. Ending with the ED playing in the background while they make casual conversation was absolutely perfect.
Kyo allowing himself to let Anna in his life opens the door to discovering things they have in common- like favorite parts in the manga- I loved seeing their expressions when they shared that moment. Of course, they still have plenty things different, like Natto. I personally side with Anna- Natto is quite tasty- a bowl of miso soup with natto and warm rice is the perfect comfort food, especially on a sick day.
The episode ended similar to how it started- with LINE- a beautiful inclusio. Anna and Kyo finally exchange IDs, just like Anna was angling for (and Kyo secretly wanted) all along. That silly message exchange at the end was absolutely adorable- I love Anna and Kyo so much and am eternally grateful that at episode 9, they are continuing to get the excellent anime treatment they deserve.