O Maidens in Your Savage Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 11 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?
I don't know about you, but I sure didn't see the final twist of this week's episode coming. It's actually why I bumped this up to a 4 from a 3.5, because sometimes a little absurdity goes a long way. Of course, the true absurdity in this episode is the school's reaction to Jujo's pregnancy – anyone who thinks that they can forbid non-platonic relationships between high schoolers has either been out of a classroom way too long (as has often been the case in my experience with administrators) or has completely forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. Unfortunately, it's not an absurdity that's all that far-fetched as a reaction to teen sexuality; just look at the proliferation of “abstinence only” sex ed programs or the number of parents who are ashamed to talk about sex with their kids. I know that I in part can only say this because I went to a middle-and-high school where one of the science teachers dressed up as Captain Condom and did the Safe Sex Rap and my mother gave me the birds and the bees talk when she was pregnant with my middle sister (I was two and promptly went up to every pregnant woman I saw in stores and told them how they'd gotten that way), but really, just giving these kids a safe space to talk or destigmatizing sexuality would go a long way to solving a lot of problems we've seen in this series.
But the fact of the matter is that plenty of cultures, Japan and the US included, have hang-ups about sex and sexuality, and that it can be damned confusing even if you don't have those issues yourself. Niina and Hongo have been driven the furthest by their issues, with things coming to a head for Niina this week and Hongo last week. Although the latter seems to have largely resolved her feelings for Milo-sensei, at least as much as she's able to, Niina has really only just taken the first major steps towards confronting her own confusion. When she realized that she wasn't in love (or anything else) with Saegusa, that she didn't want him to touch her and change her from being a little girl into a woman, that's when she finally truly understood what he did to her. The violation and disgust she felt when he began to kiss her stomach seems like something she never allowed herself to accept or understand until that moment, when she realized how much older he was than her in a more concrete way and felt grossed out by his nose hairs. While her words about feeling tangled in them don't entirely work as a metaphor, they do get across the revulsion she finally realized, and even though slapping him across the face didn't fully free her from what he did to her as a child, it was a smack in the right direction. She doesn't have to hurry to grow up, she can have a crush on someone else, and just because she likes Izumi doesn't mean that she has to become the mean girl she thought she needed to be. Kazusa may not be thrilled with the declaration or with the mature way she acted when Niina told her, but it was what Niina needed to finally begin to accept herself.
Kazusa may or may not be aware of that, but that she was able to act so maturely in the moment shows that she is growing up. Not too fast, because that wouldn't be true to her character or to the relative reality O Maidens in Your Savage Season is working with, but she's a good kid at heart. Even if she and Izumi don't last, I feel like she's going to come out okay, because when push comes to shove, she does tend to do what's right.
Of course, she did screw up pretty badly when Momo asked her if she'd rather sleep with her or Milo-sensei, but again, I'm going to blame the way adults in the show have handled sex education. For many years (as I'm sure some of you can remember and attest to), sex ed was strictly heterosexual, and that seems to be what Momo's working with for knowledge as she realizes that she's attracted to girls. When Kazusa said that she'd rather sleep with Milo-sensei because he's a man even though she loves Momo, that sent the message that Momo was somehow wrong to like girls, even though Kazusa never intended it that way. With only one episode to go, I'm doubtful that Momo will find resolution among the core group of characters, and that unfortunately still says a lot about failings in acceptance and education.
Speaking of education, Milo-sensei finally gets some points in my book for doing the right thing with the principal and assistant principal. He's standing up for his students and calling out an administrator who is using probably the two kids least likely to get up to no good in the entire school for his own agenda. Would it have worked? We may never know, because that's when the remaining lit club girls hatch their zany scheme. But at least he tried.
How things will turn out next week is anyone's guess. Very few people come out of the savage season that is adolescence completely unscathed, and a fair amount definitely helped create their own problems. If nothing else, at least the girls are united as they stand up for the person who in some ways started the entire show rolling.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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