O Maidens in Your Savage Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 12 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how I feel about the ending of O Maidens in Your Savage Season. Parts of it beggar the imagination, others are spot-on, and the very end almost feels too neat. I suppose that's a good summation of the series as a whole, so in that sense, this final episode does a good job of bringing all of the story's elements together in a concentrated collection of themes and tropes.
Certainly it gives everyone one last chance to semi-publicly air their dirty laundry. That's both necessary for the plot and a glancing blow from the Sledgehammer of Symbolism – and for some of the characters, very freeing. Momoko probably benefits the most from it in terms of emotional release. Throughout the series she's been the quietest, slowly coming to a boil with her feelings for Niina and her realization that she's attracted to girls. Until she actually confessed to Niina, she kept a lid on all of this, and in this episode, that lid is firmly blown off by the accumulated pressure. I suspect it might be as freeing for her as it is upsetting, to finally just say what she's been holding on to after all this time. She knows it probably won't end with she and Niina riding off into the sunset, at least in a romantic sense, and maybe a piece of her doesn't even want it to – when she tells Niina that she doesn't want her to date anyone ever, that's less a statement of wanting to date Niina herself and more one of just needing the possibility to exist. She's afraid to lose her friends, perhaps as afraid of being the cause as of Niina and Kazusa feuding and destroying the group, but she also can't keep everything carefully tucked away anymore.
“Fear” may be the major theme uncovered this week in general. Momo, Izumi, and Kazusa are afraid of change, Niina is afraid of being alone and unwanted, Hongo's afraid of never fulfilling her ambitions, and Sonezaki's afraid of herself and her feelings. (I think poor Amagi's just confused.) That's perhaps what Milo-sensei, who isn't the bravest himself, is hoping to get across to them with his color tag suggestion, which feels a bit like Mari Okada playing Literary Analysis: The Game with her characters. It kind of works, because it does force Momo, Kazusa, and Izumi to more fully confront their feelings and fears, but it also seems very forced – Kazusa's idea to just fight it out (with lots of yelling for a bit) would have been more natural and probably would have brought the characters to the same basic conclusions.
And what are those conclusions? For Izumi, Kazusa, and Niina, I think it was a fear of growing up too fast, a world changing before they really understood it. Niina does want to no longer be a little girl to distance herself from her abuser, but just like Izumi and Kazusa realize that “dating” doesn't need to immediately equal “sleeping together,” Niina needs to understand that having sex doesn't make you an automatic adult. That's Hongo's particular burden as well, and working through her crush on Milo-sensei and focusing her writing on other things helps her to understand that. Meanwhile Sonezaki has to come to the conclusion that while physical intimacy isn't necessary, it is natural, and she doesn't need to be ashamed of herself. That's more the significance of Kazusa's, and the show's, final line, “It fit.” It's not so much that she and Izumi had sex, but more that there's no one right way to grow up and do things. Her relationship with Izumi fits both of them, just like Sonezaki's and Amagi's fits them, and even Jujo's with her boyfriend and their baby fits them.
Where this leaves Momo feels less certain, but she and Niina appear to be together at least as friends in the epilogue. I definitely had the most emotional connection to her storyline as the series went on, so I do wish she got more of a conclusion, but it still basically works. And that's how I feel about the series as a whole – it basically works. Adolescence is a savage season, and it's equally about figuring yourself out and learning to stand up for yourself and find your place in the world, or at least begin that process. While these last two episodes have used a too-heavy hand to get those points across, the show overall did a pretty good job with it. It isn't perfect, but as the girls learn over the course of the series, your perception of “perfect” can change as you do, and ultimately that's going to be in the heart of the beholder.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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