A Galaxy Next Door
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
A Galaxy Next Door ?
Community score: 4.0
When Goshiki presents herself at a different manga creator's studio, he's immediately a little freaked out by what he thinks is her persona. It's understandable that he doesn't believe that she's really a cultured young woman, much less a princess from an insular island community, because those things went out with the last century, at least as far as most people are concerned. Even Goshiki's aware that her mode of self-presentation is a little out there; watching her backpedal into saying that “being a princess” is her hobby is one of the most human moments she's had in this story. But all of it serves to highlight how immediately welcoming Ichiro and his siblings were when she showed up alongside Goshiki's own insecurities.
The longer she spends on the mainland with ordinary people, the more painfully aware of her own odd upbringing she becomes. Things that she was able to easily brush aside are suddenly given outsize importance to her, as we see when the family goes out to a yakiniku restaurant and Machi has to teach her the proper etiquette. (At first, I thought she was trying to use her personal chopsticks to flip the meat rather than communal ones, so I'd have missed the whole “tongs” thing, too.) Machi's not approaching her instructions with anything like scorn, just a little kid's enthusiasm for teaching a grown-up anything, but Goshiki takes it harder than she ought to. It piles on top of her feeling ill-prepared to help out manga creators because her reading isn't as in-depth as theirs and she doesn't know how to use digital tools. Being off-island is making her face her own perceived deficiencies head-on, and that's becoming an increasingly difficult conversation for her.
That's what makes it so important that Ichiro decides to write her a letter. It's born out of him recognizing that she's having some inner turmoil, although he doesn't realize the degree. He just wants to offer her reassurance that he thinks she's wonderful, and for him, a letter in manga format is the way to go. He comes up with a whopping eighty pages, and that says just how much he likes her. Whether their romance is earned story-wise or not doesn't matter when he does things like this, especially in the moments when she needs them the most.
A lot of this storyline goes to show how much of a disservice Goshiki's people did in raising her to be “above” the rest of them. Deserved or not, to tell a little girl that she's too special to go join the other kids and to have them afraid to let her get her dress dirty to the point where they won't let her eat or play with them is horrible, and as Goshiki watches Fumio and Machi, she's beginning to realize that. Just compare the throwaway scene of Ichiro tying Fumio's bib around his neck with little Shiori being forced to sit on the sidelines – Fumio is a full participant in the meal, even when he somehow lights something on fire, and Machi and Ichiro are there to support him. No one ever did that for Goshiki; in fact, Ichiro's letter may be the first time anyone's ever praised her for just being herself. While the kids are cute and the romance is gooey, the real work of this series is in how Goshiki starts to truly think for and about herself, and this episode really does a very nice job of reminding us of that.
A Galaxy Next Door is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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