Love and Lies
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Love and Lies ?
There's an experiment I've been wanting to try with Love and Lies for a while, and seeing as it's so close to the end of the season, I finally figured I'd try it out. What I did was watch the first few minutes of this eleventh episode (aka “The Gang Goes to a Wedding”), and then after Misaki was done giving her umpteenth rant about “lies” and whatnot, I immediately skipped to the final five minutes of the episode (where Ririna tells Yukari he should choose Misaki, for perhaps the thirty-second time). Then, feeling like I had a pretty good idea of what this episode was all about, I went back and watched the entire thing. As I suspected, absolutely nothing happened in the middle that changed or enhanced what I got from the very beginning and end. More to the point, nothing in this entire episode developed either the plot or characters in any meaningful way, since Ririna and Misaki and Yukari are still stuck in the same loop of repeating identical beats over and over eternally.
So not only was this entire episode pointless within the grand scheme of things, but Love and Lies is quickly demonstrating that its entire story has been a complete waste of time.
That's not meant to be a snide or mean-spirited hot take; I'm simply making an observation based on where this show is now compared to where it began. After sitting though this penultimate entry of Love and Lies, it's clearer than ever before that none of our three protagonists have grown in any meaningful way whatsoever. Sitting through the wedding of Nisaka's brother, Misaki offers irritatingly self-pitying platitudes about how much she wants to see Ririna and Yukari be happy, while minutes later confessing to Yukari that she's lying about her feelings and desperately wants to be with him. This is almost word-for-word the exact same conversation they've been having since episode three of the show, and not one of these protagonists has offered any hint of a solution to the problem they clearly understand by now.
Meanwhile, at the tail end of the episode, Ririna tells Yukari that she thinks he should be with Misaki, which is just what she's been saying from the beginning of the series. Yes, there have been moments throughout the season where she demonstrated a burgeoning internal conflict over her growing feelings for her assigned husband, but none of that doubt has been made apparent to anyone else in the story. So as far as the pieces of the plot are concerned, the board remains unchanged.
As for Yukari, not much more can be said of him. Outside of his ever-present waffling over whether or not he has the courage to be with Misaki despite the social stigma, the most pressing idea on his mind this week is whether or not his wedding will feature some kind of cheesy montage video. And just like Ririna, all of his internal conflict remains frustratingly literal, communicated entirely through mind-numbing internal monologues. His problem in this episode is the same exact problem he's had for ten weeks now. He wants to be with Misaki, but Ririna is also hot, and he can't handle all of the hormone-fueled angst. When he has an intimate chat with Ririna across the wall of a private bathhouse, we're supposed to feel bad for this kid, because even though he's developing a genuine bond with an attractive (not to mention naked) girl who seems to care for him a lot, there's another girl out there who he shared an eraser with once, and she also has pretty big boobs.
Truly, Yukari Nejima's struggle is one for the ages. Not since Hamlet first walked out on the stage of the Globe has a character so embodied the violent, churning tides of a young man's soul.
Okay, now I'm starting to get snarky, but I hope you'll cut me a little slack here. There are only so many ways to write about a show where absolutely nothing happens, and then that same exact nothing is repeated for three months straight. At this point, I'm beginning to think this series harbors active contempt for not only its main characters, but for teenagers in general. If Scum's Wish was devastating for the amount of empathy it had for its broken characters, Love and Lies seems to depict teenagers at their most disgustingly shallow, their most irritatingly naïve, and their most aggressively tedious.
As a teacher, I can confirm that teenagers are capable of being all these things, as are most people in other stages of life. For the life of me though, I can't understand why anyone would ever want to make a show about those kinds of people that doesn't change at all for twelve weeks straight.
Love and Lies is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
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