Bloom Into You
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Bloom Into You ?
With Episode 6 of Bloom Into You, we're at about the halfway point, and it's time to lay all the cards on the table. Yuu finally learns the full truth about why Touko acts the way that she does, so she decides to confront her on it. Continuing with the series' realism, it doesn't quite go as planned. It's a great testament to what makes Bloom Into You a cut above many other yuri series—and I'd argue, anime romance of all kinds.
Like the other council members, Yuu had mixed feelings about this whole "play" thing. Saeki notices Yuu's reluctance to share the existence of her creative-writer friend with the group, and then suggests where Yuu can start searching for information on the student council's history while reminding her that Touko doesn't need another minder. It's when Yuu doesn't find anything that she finds out the truth, and why it weighs so heavily on Touko.
Touko had an older sister, Mio Nanami, who died when she was little in a car accident. Mio was also president of the student council and a real Type-A personality, and all little Touko could hear at her funeral was how great her sister was and the hopes that Touko follow in her footsteps. Touko does a good enough job of fooling everyone around her that the teacher calls them "twins", but Yuu has seen Touko's "true" personality and knows how much of an act it is for her to keep up.
As much as Bloom Into You tries to frame Yuu as exceptional for being the only one that Touko opens up to, it's clear that others have noticed the cracks in her façade as well. Saeki directly tells Yuu that Touko's confidence is a "front," encouraging Yuu to research the club's past for herself. (This is even before Yuu knows just how intertwined that past is with Touko's personal history.) It's another way that Bloom Into You injects some realism into familiar romance tropes. Rarely is there just one person we show our "true selves" to; instead, that can come out bit by bit when interacting with others. It also exposes the different views that Touko and Saeki have of each other: Touko seeing her as one more person she has to pretend to have confidence around, but Saeki sees herself as watching out for Touko in a protective way.
When Yuu learns the truth about Touko's sister from their teacher, she walks with Touko and ends up confronting her about it. This is another common romance trope: the love interest who tells the main character to "be yourself!" and triggers an epiphany in them. Yuu, avid reader of shoujo manga, knows how she expects this to go down. But Bloom Into You yet again goes for realism instead. Touko doesn't want to hear that the persona she's spent years cultivating is one she should just throw away. In fact, she seems to like herself better when pretending to be like Mio, and she certainly thinks that others feel that way about her. So she tells Yuu that she'd rather die than hear these words from her. It's a startling rejection of Yuu's attempt to reach out. Even if we know it's not a rejection of Yuu herself, it feels so harsh. But also, how many of us would react differently if in Touko's position? Yuu is basically asking her to throw away all the work she's done over the years to make herself someone her family and friends can be proud of, all to carry on the memory of her beloved late sister.
Instead, Yuu realizes the way forward is for her to support Touko in her goals. She'll help with the play no matter what and be there to support Touko when she needs a shoulder to cry on from someone who knows her "true self." I'll confess that part of my confusion is not really seeing how the side of Touko that Yuu sees is so incongruous with the part of her that wants to be the student council president and super-achiever in honor of her sister. It just seems like she wants to hide that she gets burnt out and has other feelings that have nothing to do with achievement, something that everyone—even the most Type-A people out there—experience from time to time. Perhaps the way forward is for Touko to realize that these two sides of her personality aren't so contradictory after all, and she can embrace both of them or find a middle ground. She's almost certainly imitating an idealized version of her sister, who was a teenage girl with lots of regular teenage-girl problems along with being a school superstar.
Yuu's promise involves her coming to terms with the nature of her feelings. She doesn't feel the magic shoujo-manga passion that she wants to feel for Touko, and she might not ever feel that way. But she is starting to realize that she does feel something, and those feelings make her want to be with Touko and take care of her. They make her want to try at a relationship. I'm glad she's made it this far, because it was getting a little frustrating to see Yuu have this same dilemma week after week. At the same time, her cyclic frustration also adds to the "realism" of the story, as teenagers grapple with normal teenage feelings in the same repetitive and annoying ways. I doubt this is the last we'll see of that dilemma, but I'm glad Yuu has reached an epiphany about it.
Yuu's decision to help more with the play likely means a bigger role for her aspiring writer friend Koyomi going forward. I like how even when Yuu is still hesitant about the play, still searching for the relevant details on the student council's past, she's eager to share the opportunity with her friend. As Touko says, she's an incredibly kind person, which is why she was drawn to her—but part of that is because Yuu doesn't yet know the kind of possessiveness that Touko's love gives her. Maybe it's not just Touko who needs to learn that she's fine the way she is.
Bloom Into You is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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