by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 3 of
When Miyamura said that he'd pierced his own ears back in middle school, it definitely set off a few warning bells for me. Not in the “oh, no, he's into hurting himself” sense, but rather a sort of cold recognition about the sort of thing that can drive someone to stick a pin through their ear or to cut themselves. I'm a wimp about my own blood (other people's is fine, but I prefer mine where I can't see it, thanks), so I was never a piercer or a cutter, but I absolutely understand the sort of social isolation and unhappiness that can lead someone to do it. And that, we learn this week, is precisely what happened to Miyamura. Labeled as “weird,” “gloomy,” and “creepy” from elementary school, he became the last kid in all situations when teams or partners were called for. When his (apparently terrible) teachers asked someone to take him into their group, the other kids in class just repeated their usual run of imprecations, meaning that even if someone was made to work with him, he knew full well that he wasn't really wanted. So when he takes a safety pin to his earlobe in middle school and then just stands in front of the mirror watching the blood bead and drip, it's Miyamura expressing what he can't say – and maybe taking charge of his own pain so that someone else isn't hurting him. Because if you do it to yourself, that's your choice and your control, not something done to you by someone else.
That's the underpinning of Miyamura's entire character, and this is the episode where I really wish that the story had slowed its pace a bit, because it explains so much of how he reacts to those around him, Hori included. With his earrings and tattoos, Miyamura has created a self unknown to everyone at school, one he alone is comfortable and familiar with. He's not doing it to be edgy or anything like that, but rather to give himself the feeling of wearing a disguise that no one else can see to make himself feel stronger. After all, if classmates reject him for only what he is on the surface without knowing the whole truth, he can say that it's not him they're writing off. Therefore, since Hori, and later Toru, are both privy to the knowledge of his “costume” and don't treat him any differently no matter which appearance he's wearing, they must be people who truly care about him. That of course means that they have more power to hurt him, as we see in the rushed ending of this episode with Toru, but it's a trade-off that Miyamura is slowly learning to make.
Would this episode have worked better if it had limited itself to exploring Miyamura's feelings and insecurities? I think so. It's not an angle explored by tons of romance anime, at least not when the boy is the one with the feelings, and allowing Miyamura to take on the more traditionally feminine role is important in terms of narrative function. But also I just really feel like he deserved to have the whole episode to himself, although the bit with Remi and Hori was also worthwhile since it shows how Hori may not be fully aware of her own developing feelings, and that Remi really is a twit. Isn't she dating Sengoku? Even if she was just joking, she must know that asking if she could “have” Miyamura isn't going to look all that endearing, especially after the crap she pulled last week.
In any event, Remi does push Hori into starting to understand that she may feel more for Miyamura than comfortable friendship. But what's nice is that their budding romance isn't represented as anything but comfortable; Miyamura may worry about whether he really belongs with Hori's friend group and may get angry with Toru for pushing him about Hori's feelings, but ultimately Hori and Miyamura really enjoy spending time together outside of school. Their near-confession and quietly clasped hands is a beautiful demonstration of how romance doesn't have to be fireworks and shooting stars to be romantic, and their silence speaks louder than any words that they could have said. That's what I want to keep seeing from this show, and not even rushing through the source material can sour those little moments.
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