“Fragile and Empty”
Mugi becomes more serious about Akane and demands a date with her, but she cheerfully declines with the excuse that it’s Kanai’s day. Boredom and confusion over Kanai sees Akane consider breaking it off with him, but his reaction to learning her secrets perplexes her even more. As Mugi begins to understand his own insecurities, he becomes even more insistent toward Akane.
While I was fully anticipating Scum’s Wish to deliver another Akane-focused narrative before the season was complete, a decent effort to expand Kanai’s character should be made. Though he is given a heavier role this week, the reasoning behind Kanai’s motives and actions are all the more muddled. With only one episode left until the finale, the chances of unwrapping the mystery surrounding Kanai seems slim.
For all the obscurity surrounding Kanai, this episode served to highlight what drives Akane all the more. Coining the term “It’s Kanai Day” is highly indicative of Akane’s natural thought process regarding the casual, fleeting nature of ‘relationships’ (using the term lightly here.) Inevitably, it becomes the catalyst for Mugi’s jealousy and sparks his emotional outburst at the end of the episode. Despite Akane’s insensitive behavior, she has adopted this perplexing obligation to split her time equally between her conquests.
With all the growth witnessed among characters, Mugi appears to be backsliding on a destructive path. For what it’s worth, I found the last few moments of the episode to be an interesting shift in his temperment. Throughout the episode, Mugi continuously misleads himself by claiming Akane’s selfish, promiscuous behavior is exactly what intrigues him. When confronted with the notion that his beloved doles out her time between men, Mugi sheepishly admits Akane’s behavior doesn’t sit well with him.
In the final scene, Mugi’s timid disapproval disintegrates when he forcibly demands Akane share a proper date with him. While this fluctuation in tone is startling, it isn’t entirely unpredictable. After being privy to the back and forth battle unfolding in Mugi’s inner thoughts this episode, it was only a matter of time before his begrudging acceptance broke. Truth be told, this sudden surge of empowerment will likely do little for Mugi in Akane’s eyes. She agreed to the date, if only to temporarily appease her young lover. But the respect and love Mugi is vying for is not to be found with Akane.
– Glimpses of growth from Akane. Perhaps, at the very least, she is starting to question her behavior.
– The animation continues to take my breath away. The framing and composition used to execute this story keeps viewers engaged the entire time.
– For all the character development witnessed in this series, Kanai’s motives and reasoning is still a complete mystery.
At this point in the series I fully expected the series to focus strongly on Hanabi and Mugi, given that they were the central characters of the show and that most of the early material unfolded from Hanabi’s point of view. To see it instead spent a good deal of time exploring Akane was surprising, and lends to the idea that the series hopes to do much more than simply resolve the story of heartache that the two students began.
Beginning with Akane’s inner dialogue about her first sexual experience and her focus on how much other girls might have wanted the same thing rather than her own feelings on the matter, Akane reconfirms how out of touch she is with her own happiness. She understands that she derives pleasure from stirring jealousy in others, and that’s all she knows. Valuing or understanding people beyond their painful reactions is simply something she has never tried to do. As I said in and earlier review, this type of mentality is hard for me to understand. The concept is simple enough to grasp though, and the show doesn’t try to make her more complicated than that.
What gives her a little more depth is being able to see Mugi and Kanai from her point of view. She was completely bored with the ordinary things Kanai thought she might like to do on a date, and more than anything was irritated in not being able to reason through his feelings. The frustration of seeming like she was the one chasing him rather than the other way around pushed her to the point of being fed up, but even that irritation was so foreign that she was unwittingly curious about it.
Mugi, on the other hand, acts just as she expects. Eagerly engaging in intimacy, getting jealous over the time she spends with other men, and pathetically pursuing her despite how impossible his goals are. But while this is familiar to Akane, it’s not exciting at all. Mugi acts like a toy, and she treats him like one. Adding to that, neither he nor Kanai have other people who desire them, and without anyone for Akane to stoke jealousy in what point is there in being with either one?
The answer comes to her as abruptly as it does to the rest of the audience. Kanai creates a great amount of confusion when he doesn’t break up with her upon her admission that she sleeps around, apparently with no attached fetish behind his not needing her to change. Mugi grows even more forceful, admitting the difference in maturity between them as he still pleads that she go on a date with him instead of spending their time in his room or a motel. It’s the unexpected that draws Akane in, and may be the key to unraveling whatever warped sense of self she possesses.
With the end of the episode hinting that she may still have plenty of involvement in the story, a part of me wonders about the show’s sense of direction as it moves into the end of the season. But given how brilliant this show has been with its character work and overall control of tone, there is probably little need to worry.
– The glimpse into Akane’s mind, however unsavory her attitude, was brilliantly done.
– Seeing something get to Akane, and for it to be Kanai of all people, was fascinating.
– As Akane said, Kanai seems weird indeed. Is it innocence or desperation that drives him?
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party