OP2: 「僕は…」 (Boku wa…) by (あたらよ)
「僕らは探している」 (Bokura wa Sagashite Iru)
There’s snow time like the present and Kyou is making plenty of progress, helped in part by the snow. When we last left off with BokuYaba, Kyou (Horie Shun) had broken his arm in the Akita mountains while snapping pics for Anna, and let’s not forget that endearing hatsumode moment shared between him and Anna (Youmiya Hina).
Now, it’s back to the grind of daily life- which really grinds when you can only use your non-dominant hand. I totally get Kyou’s “oh shit” moment when the teacher proposes he ask someone in class to transcribe class notes for him. It can be awkward to ask someone for help, and especially when you don’t feel close enough to anyone to feel comfortable asking, which then leads into the anxiety that they might not want to help you or only do so begrudgingly, and you’re actually being a huge burden on them. Then, there’s also the fear that the other person might not write the notes down exactly or might miswrite something. But yeah, Kyou, you’re really going to need some help there. Kanji (especially the kind of kanji they use in class), is complicated enough with your dominant hand, one mis-stroke can give you a whole different word than the one you needed. Doing it left-handed- yeah, no, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Why is it that the people you don’t want to overhear your conversation, end up being the ones who do in fact overhear it? Or even more to the point, why does overthinking have to complicate everything and make you say the very thing you DIDN’T want to say, which was why you were overthinking everything in the first place? Of course, Anna happened to overhear when Kyo did his whole handwaving speech with the sensei. Kyo doesn’t want to burden Anna and also, there’s the fear that “yeah, we talk all the time, but maybe she’s just being nice”. Ah, those damn foot in the mouth moments. And then the “let me explain” part that comes after always amps up the awkwardness. Thank goodness Anna understands, she needs no explanation (though Kyou absolutely should and does give her one- basic communication 101, never assume what someone else knows).
I am so proud of Kyou for speaking up to clear the situation out. It can be so awkward and hard to do, but when someone is as important to you as Anna is to him, you just have to take that leap. It feels so much better afterwards and clears the path for open communication in the relationship. Kyou becoming more comfortable in being open with Anna is really empowering him to speak up for himself in their friendship, which then trickles into other areas of his life, which even the teachers are starting to notice. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you can’t voice your concerns in a relationship, not due to the other person, but due to your own hangups.
This was also a big moment for Anna too- she trusts him and what she knows of his character. Him speaking up like that validates that trust. Anna is incredibly patient and understanding with him (even going so far as to ask someone else to do it in secret out of consideration for him), and that is paying off. But it goes both ways, as we see later in the episode when Kyou goes on the Kentarou hunt.
Kyou also learns to let others help him, handing her his backpack without too much resistance. I know he’s worried about being a burden to her and believes he’s capable of doing it himself, but it’s super important to swallow that pride or fear and let others help you. It’s not just for his sake, it’s for hers too- letting her help opens the door into his life a little wider. You can tell, it makes her super happy to be able to help him like that.
Of course, we have the ever-present middle school boy talk, the bane of Kyou’s existence. You definitely don’t want the inner recesses of your thoughts broadcast to all the world. But, I also would also hazard the guess that Anna might be flattered, were she to know that Kyou thought of her in that way. Like “Oohh, my crush is hot for me”. Believe me, she’s not as innocent or pure as perhaps Kyou thinks she and the other girls are.
I love how Anna not too subtly flashes out “Look what I did!”, pulling the mag out for Kyou’s benefit. She’s proud of her work and wants to share that with him and isn’t about to wait around for him to ask her (which really helps Kyou out because he wants to ask but doesn’t know if he should). While their personalities may be different, they certainly are starting to run on the same track of thought. It’s such a bonding experience to be talking with your love interest and realize you both had the same idea. Like, yeah, we’re different, but they get me- it’s a truly, warm, healing feeling, especially for someone like Kyou who feels on the outskirts of middle school society.
Kyou’s not the only one who’s not true to his feelings, with Anna’s “there’s no one I like”. But they can’t fool anyone else, that’s for sure. Hara (Toyosaki Aki) sees what’s going on, always the sweetheart she is. The back and forth with her and Kenta about the side burns was adorable. I love the body positivity, Kenta celebrating Hara for her beauty as she is, rather than pressuring her to conform to a particular body type (which is BS anyway). However, it does make me a little nervous that he’s encouraging her to keep eating more than she’s comfortable because of his own preferences, rather than listening to her and what she wants. But, he’s only in middle school, so I can’t entirely blaming him for not thinking that deeply about it- most middle school boys aren’t on that level.
Way to go Kyou! He was totally cool in the way he went out to find Kentarou- a man on a mission. He totally owned himself and the connection he has with Anna, emanating confidence you don’t usually see from him and something both we, the audience, and Anna, want to see more of. It’s amazing how just a few weeks over winter break can make a difference in his character growth. Sometimes that’s all it takes is one person, a series of moments leading up to one moment that can really be the turning point in one’s growth. And then it’s look out world, here I come! It’s a truly moving experience, to see Kyou slowly on the path to becoming his full self, the best of all that he can be, no holds barred. It was also really nice to see Anna’s friends support the two of them, giving Kyou the tip off about Anna’s mini disaster.
Kyou talks a lot about Anna’s world that he sees that no-one else gets to. I think the same is true for Anna. She gets to see the side of him others don’t get to- the way he pays attention to and cares about little details, like her interest in dogs. He doesn’t get to express it well- not because he doesn’t notice or care, but because it’s difficult, awkward for him to do so. But Anna gets to see that careful attention because of the bond they have, because she’s provided the space for him to warm up to her, to feel comfortable enough to express those things he normally doesn’t, out loud. As someone who has her own struggles with self-confidence at times (just in different ways), Anna needs his gentle, consistent concern, just as much as he needs hers. By little comments like about how he read her other magazine or how she’s always at her best, he’s encouraging and validating her in the path she’s set out for herself-“Yes, it’s ok to be me- Anna the model, Anna the snack-loving goofball, Anna Kyou’s friend”.
It was beautifully symbolic how the pair found the keychain together- Kyou took a leap outside of his comfort zone to help Anna in her distress, while Anna helped him notice a new landscape he hadn’t observed before. It perfectly illustrates their relationship, the dynamic between them and how it works both ways. She’s in no way his manic pixie genki girl. Anna exists in her own right, as does Kyou, and I love how Norio-sensei uses their quirks to play off of each other, grow from each other in full, glorious color.
ED2: 「恋してる自分すら愛せるんだ」 (Koishiteru Jibun sura Aiseru n da) by (こはならむ)