Where to start?
After a week break, and following the release of the ED single, Rie Fu’s ‘For You’, we’re back with Horou Musuko, and, as usual, there’s an amazing amount of material slotted into this episode. We manage to cover summer vacation, and the beginning of the new school term, as well as the prep work for the cultural festival – and a LOT of things happen, from Nitori being outed to the remainder of their group of friends (Chi and Momo, really, although Saori’s mother hears it, too!) and the selection of the cast for Romeo and Juliet.
I consider it, by the way, and attestment to the quality of the material that I do not simply feel irritated over the usage of Romeo and Juliet. I’ll be quite frank: I hate that play. I also hate how its held up as the highest piece of ‘romance’ by the popular conception. You’ve got folks saying they want to be someone’s Juliet or Romeo. Uh, folks? They committed suicide at the end. The only happily ever afters they got were in the Victorian revisions, about 250 to 300 hundred years after the play was originally written… and those certainly are not included with the text or performances any more.
But Hourou Musuko goes for broke by not placing its would-be couple in the leading roles. Instead, Saori gets the role she wished for, but as tends to be the case, you’ve got to be careful what you wish for – Makoto is her Juliet. And if anyone has been getting under her skin as of late, its been Makoto. He’s easily the most mature of the kids in their group, and absolutely the most observant.
I wonder if he’s in part this way because he focuses himself more externally, which is to say, he distracts himself from himself by focusing on the things that are going on around him, the problems that his friends are having. In other words, its easy for him to be so calm and level-headed about everything going on in their lives, precisely because it is happening to someone other than himself, whereas he prefers to not examine his own self. We’ve seen him a lot talking through other people’s predicaments with them, but how often have we seen him talking about himself? He had that one moment in episode two when he mentioned the crush on the teacher, and then a flash here when Saori basically cornered him, but Makoto doesn’t speak for himself terribly often.
My favorite part of the episode, however, without a doubt, was the end of summer sequence with the fireworks. This was just a beautifully rendered set of shots. I don’t really know how else to say it. It’s really the sort of thing you must watch yourself to really get what I’m saying. The artistry aside, though, it also did a great job of advancing the story, using the end of summer as a way to quickly depict the passage of time and the growth of its characters, as Nitori talks about moving on in reference to his crush on Takatsuki.
…but, yeah, mostly I liked the prettiness of it.
Makoto’s exchange with Nitori about Saori lying and saying he wanted to give up the role of Juliet is an interesting bit of foreshadowing, although it was done very subtly. Things are not going to be getting any easier for Makoto!
Saori’s desired changes for the script are very telling. This isn’t a girl who is mean to others because she’s getting any pleasure out of it – she just feels miserable herself, and so can’t help but direct that misery outwards as well, albeit in a different sort of form. Hence wanting to kill off everyone in the play… including herself. Because killing off everyone in the play isn’t going to make her happy, exactly. She just hates it all.
Speaking of Saori, the first full appearances of the guy from her church, Fumiya, are extremely unwelcome. While I feel that the strength of Hourou Musuko is how low-key and realistic it is, Fumiya is just… he’s out-of-place, and he heralds the arrival of other things that feel really out-of-place. It seems that AIC may be leaving some of those elements out, but Fumiya’s entry into this episode leaves a bad taste in my mouth. His verbal revelation in Saori’s living room may have been important to helping Nitori realize why Takatsuki is important to him and why its okay if they aren’t dating, but he’s still highly problematic as a character within the narrative. While I still enjoyed the Hourou Musuko manga even after he surfaced, whenever I saw him I was suddenly snapped back to reality, forced to notice that I was reading a story, not immersed in a world. Here’s hoping he won’t be making a lot of appearances going forward.
As I mentioned earlier, the ED single is out, as is the PV. It’s a cute little PV, with Rie Fu riding on a yellow school bus while writing and singing. The school bus then gets a bit of an interior make-over, and there’s some leaning against trees and running around in fields with her instrumentalists, along with a bit of campfire card playing. It fits very well with the show itself, honestly – the parting shot is of them all curled up in the made-over bus sleeping, and they looked comfortable and happy. I’m also fairly sure that it was filmed in the US, as an American school bus is the one used, and in shots of the bus driving it is shown to be on the right side of the road. Rie Fu has worked in the UK before on her stuff, but not in the US as far as I can tell, so I’m not sure why the chance – were they that dedicated the the American bus in particular? Who knows! (School buses that are yellow in the UK have flat fronts; the one in this video has a protruding nose.)