Considering the amount of important information and events of this episode (and the vastly different feel of the next one) this episode deserves its own post. Mostly Arima-centric, there are two big instances of background and development for him, and then the often absent or sidestepped in shoujo first sexual experience for both characters. Each major event has a strong sense of significance for it, though there is also a worrying undercurrent as regards Arima, his motivations, and his mental state that is brought to the fore in the final moments of the episode. Things start off an a sour note as the extended Arima family gets together for some sort of family gathering…
As soon as Arima arrives he gets two different kinds of bullying from his relatives’ kids. One direct, the other a biting false sympathy.
Ugly on the inside, ugly on the outside.
Luckily his parents stand up for him as Mr. Arima’s sister keeps treating his adopted son as if he were his biological father.
Badass! In this case I would be perfectly cool with Arima’s dad slapping his sister in the face.
Relatives better wise up before Arima books them all a one way ticket on a Nice Boat.
After the family gathering things return mostly to normal. But recently Arima has been feeling more amorous towards Yukino and in one of their days spent together he starts trying to move beyond the kissing they’ve been doing before. Yukino is surprised but doesn’t really object, she just wasn’t expecting it from him. In line with most of Arima’s words it’s a bit awkward when he communicates his feelings by saying “one day I may make love to you”, but the idea is put out there that he wants to get more serious physically. They still have some of summer break left, and they spend it together with their friends as well as as a couple, going to the beach with everyone one day. This is a nice bit of lighthearted fun in between the serious segments, but fairly short lived as the episode advances to Yukino and Arima walking home and getting caught in the rain. The scene returns to the black and white of the family gathering scene, indicative of Arima’s internal thoughts but also of that worrying undercurrent I mentioned in the introduction. Still, the conversation is loving and serious between them when Arima invites Yukino to his house since it’s closer…and mentions that his parents won’t be home that day.
Asaba really wants to create that harem…while he pays attention to the one guy present.
The fearless leader of Sea Slugs chose that as his mascot? Kabitzin no ecchi!
He didn’t quite get the “Akiba! Mikuriya!” greeting he expected.
At least someone has her priorities straight!
Back to black and white on the way home, along with this neat frame within the shot.
Flowing water was generally a bad sign of Arima’s past coming back to him, which it is, but it also somehow occurs and is given emphasis while his relationship with Yukino is going well. It’s still worrying though, it seems almost like his desire to have sex with Yukino is out of some sort of desperation.
Visually returning to the words that Arima spoke to Yukino about his senses existing just to experience her in every way possible.
And when Yukino agrees to go home with him he’s the one that gets visibly embarassed.
Back at Arima’s house the two do have sex, though only the pair sitting on the edge of a bed is shown directly and the rest represented by a montage of SYMBOLISM that didn’t really connect in my viewing of it. I can see what the staff was trying to get at, but for me it didn’t really work to communicate the feelings involved. Afterwards Arima wakes up, fortunately not very late in the evening. He starts making some food while Yukino takes a bath and she’s quite excited to be living almost like a newly married couple for the evening. As in previous situations she’s obviously the more forward one and yet not the one who initiates things. But after she heads back to her house Arima has another internal crisis as his sort of evil subconscious twin shows up to start undermining his faith in himself and in his relationship with Yukino. It also brings back some of the specifics of how terrible his biological parents were, in particular his mother slapping him repeatedly over and over again. Funny how no one spoke ill of her at the family gathering. So not only was his aunt horribly prejudiced, she was also a hypocrite for not placing equal scorn on the mother, the one who was part of the family by blood.
Come on Arima, I know the first time isn’t that great but it wasn’t SO bad /outofcontextcaption
SYMBOLISM!!! DID YOU NOTICE? Somehow it just didn’t work, aside from the drops of color circling and then forming together as a symbol for emotions and sensations coming together, which was not quite enough. But the whole field and hat thing somehow managed to be both heavy handed and not very communicative.
The conversation and three versions of Arima was very reminiscent of some scenes in Xenogears, a game that was heavy on psychology and definitely took some inspiration from Evangelion. Here too it seems like an Id-Ego-Superego setup but with the bad guy seeming more like the Superego than Fei’s Id from the game and a passive Id played by the child Arima. (As an aside, if you haven’t played this PS1 game it has my absolute highest recommendations. It is simply the best game I’ve ever played in terms of story; nothing comes close.)
Well if Arima communicated better with his Zanpakutou he might be able to use its power instead of fear it.
In the framed shot to the left and the image of the window to the right we get some visual displays of what Arima narrates over them, about wanting to get out of this bad dream that keeps recurring in his life. The one on the left gives a feeling of isolation and limited space, while the window and the contrast between the dark interior and dusk outside locks the viewer inside as Arima is locked inside his emotional baggage.
Final Thoughts: - The first and third parts of the episode are starting to explain the full extent of Arima’s family problems, both in how badly his biological parents treated him to how disgracefully his extended family still treats him because of them. What he did last episode is still not excused by these mitigating circumstances, but the desperation he showed then is at least given some context.
- While I commend Kare Kano for not just ‘fade to black’-ing the sex scene as most shows are wont to do, I can’t really get behind their choice of symbolism for it. Given how expressive the show has been before with the abstract, I was a bit surprised to see how the montage turned out. Either a more direct showing or something abstract but more expressive than a field, a hat, and chibi characters would have done the scene more justice given how important it was to the characters. But I suppose you can’t win em all, especially after the director being changed mid-stream.
- The way Arima first realized his sexual feelings for Yukino had a tinge of desperation to it that I find unsettling. It was as if he was on the edge of the psychological precipice that he later fell into and thought that trying to become closer to Yukino in the physical sense would save him. His imaginary simulacrum was spot on in that regard, that becoming closer with Yukino would not save him or magically undo his problems. I just hope that he can recover from his less than pure motivations this time to continue onwards without causing Yukino problems. But somehow I feel that he will do just such a thing.
- The ‘evil’ Arima Superego sort of character reminds me very much of the doubting, jeering Hachimaki from the Planetes manga that confronted that character when he had to re-qualify for spacewalks. In the end that part of Hachimaki’s personality ended up being helpful, it was the tough love and motivation that he needed to come back to working in space with renewed vigor. Who knows, perhaps this Arima will help him break through his old trauma. (Planetes image below.)