O Maidens in Your Savage Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 4 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?
When I was in the 10th grade, my optometrist told me that I needed to exchange my glasses for hard contact lenses for a few years. At the same time, circumstances dictated that I cut off my hip-length hair to chin-length, with the result that it sprang up into a poof of curls. Needless to say, people at school were shocked—and like Sonezaki, I was incredibly uncomfortable with the attention. The reason I'm telling you this story is because it shows how O Maidens in Your Savage Season manages to hit on familiar situations even though the reasons for them and the reactions the characters have to them in the long run may be different from our own. I recognize and empathize with the whole “suddenly people think she's pretty” state of affairs without it being completely like my own experience with it.
Obviously the major difference here is that Sonezaki decided on her own to change her look and deliberately modeled it on Erika, the fashion model she was told she looked like. Why she decided to do it isn't explicitly stated, but I think “curiosity” is a pretty good answer. When we saw her scrutinizing the ad last week, she was looking to see if there was any truth to the comparison, and it's in pursuit of that that she seems to have switched to contacts and cut her bangs. Where Kazusa and Momo aren't comfortable specifically with sexuality, Sonezaki seems to be put off by the very idea of attractiveness, and she both wants desperately to be cute and pretty and is afraid what that might change for her, as we can see when she makes her suitor write a fifty-page report on why he likes her. She's always been “the ugly one,” at least in her mind because of her classmates' words, and if suddenly she's not, well, that's a complete shift in her normal life, and that's scary. Her active resentment and rejection of the popular girls in her class and her tentative acceptance of the one person who saw value in her before her makeover speak to this.
There's probably more to the mean girl's sudden desire to be friends with “Osone,” as she calls her. (And I love that she used the prefix “o” instead of the suffix “-chan” for the nickname; it seems to indicate that she's acknowledging Sonezaki's scholarly side since it's more old-fashioned.) She tells her friend that she wanted to ask Sonezaki something, and given her demeanor in general, that may not be anything mean. Sonezaki's new look might simply make her more comfortable and make the other girl easier to approach in her eyes, and I hope that we'll see this develop into the two girls forming, if not a friendship, then at least an understanding.
That may be in jeopardy for Kazusa and Niina. When Kazusa sees Niina and Izumi talking happily on the train, her mind immediately jumps to the worst possible conclusion—that the two are headed towards a sexual relationship. Since she's already in a state of total confusion, it makes sense, but in reality it doesn't seem all that likely, at least on Niina's part. She's just finished telling Momo that Kazusa and Momo are the only best friends she's ever had, and as the person who figured out that Kazusa likes Izumi, it would be a jerk move to then start dating (or sleeping) with him. Plus even if Izumi has a crush on Niina, which feels more likely, he's said that he's not emotionally ready to move from sexual fantasy to reality. And with Kazusa being so weird (in his eyes), the poor guy needs someone to talk to.
Kazusa's reaction is basically symptomatic of her real problem—that she can't get out of her own head. Hongo may be treading a very dangerous line with Milo-sensei (and he had better know better than to let this keep going, no matter how much she throws him off), but she's doing it with eyes wide open. Momo may not be able to admit to her real crush – and I think it's very important that she told Niina that she's never had a crush on a boy - but she is well aware of what makes her uncomfortable even if she can't always speak up in the moment. Even Sonezaki is looking at the outside world even if she isn't sure how to handle it. But Kazusa lacks the emotional maturity to do that, or even to really understand her own feelings, both emotional and physical. She doesn't need a sexual awakening, such as Hongo had, but she's gotten herself as tangled in her own mind as a skein of yarn a cat's been playing with. Or maybe the better metaphor is that her thoughts and feelings have become a parasitic vine, slowly wrapping around a tree and strangling it.
There's a lot of truth in all of these situations, even if it doesn't exactly match up with your experience, and perhaps most especially in the melodrama consuming the girls' minds. To outsiders, they probably just look like every other teenage girl doing whatever it is teen girls do. But for them? This is serious life and death stuff, and that the show can treat that feeling with respect may be its greatest strength.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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