O Maidens in Your Savage Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?
The signs have all been there, especially in last week's episode, but this time we get full confirmation – a large part of Niina's attitude towards sex and sexuality comes from the fact that she was abused by her childhood director. The man is an unapologetic pedophile, and that he never physically abused Niina (the scene where he cradles her foot against his face is as close as it apparently got) doesn't change the fact that his so-called affections hurt her. Things culminated when she was fourteen and he flat-out turned her down, saying that once she became attractive to men, that is to say, grew up, she would cease to be attractive to him. This, then, is at the root of her saying in the beginning of the series that she would die soon – it isn't moody teenage nihilism, they're the words of someone who is still trying to come to terms with what happened to her. In Niina's mind, being sexually attractive to men means that she's fully away from her abuser, so if she herself becomes sexually active, she'll have escaped him.
Despite this, she doesn't seem to fully realize or understand that what he did was wrong. She does know in some part of her brain, but “knowing” and “understanding” aren't always the same thing. Izumi's reactions to her story (“Dude, he's a straight-up pedophile!”) and her sort of blasé acceptance of his words could indicate the emotional wall she's still hiding behind. That's part of the healing process, or at least it has been in my experience – just putting up a wall and telling yourself that it happened and now it's over and if you just sound calm about it, maybe you really will be. But someday Niina's going to need to take that wall apart brick by brick, and Izumi's words could be the first step towards realizing that.
There is, of course, the risk that Izumi will find Niina either fascinating or develop some sort of need to save her, which could lead to exactly what Kazusa is worried about, but I hope it doesn't come to that, not for Kazusa, but for Niina. I'd rather see her figure herself out before she jumps into a romantic (or sexual) relationship. For Kazusa, who doesn't know what we (and Izumi) do, though, it almost seems like there's an appeal to Izumi and Niina getting together. It would in some ways take the pressure off of her (even if she's the one who put that pressure there in the first place) and if Izumi dated someone Kazusa knew and liked, she might be able to live more or less vicariously through her. Kazusa's still deep in the throes of equating romance with sex, and until she manages to see that they don't have to be one and the same, she's going to keep having trouble reconciling her emotions. Seriously, if there was a prize for Overthinker of the Year, Kazusa would be a shoe-in.
It's interesting to compare her to Momo, who is less emotional about the whole boy thing. This week she goes on a date with her classmate from cram school, and she's left utterly cold by the whole thing. If we read between the lines, that's probably because she's got a crush on Niina and boys just aren't her thing, but Momo herself doesn't seem to have realized that. Unlike Kazusa or Sonezaki, Momo's not fretting about it, though – she's just trying to work things through logically. She does know that she's totally unimpressed by her date, from his posturing about “treating” her (ooo, two hundred whole yen when she paid a thousand!) to his assertion that she somehow told him something special when she said she didn't have a dad, which is clearly just a fact of Momo's life, not a big secret or an open wound. Kazusa would be in a tizzy about it; Momo's just willing to accept that she found the whole thing gross.
There's a lot going on in this show in general, and I do think that it's getting a little overwhelming as it tries to cover all five characters each week. Right now Hongo's the one who I think bears keeping an eye on. She and Milo-sensei are definitely beginning to tread some dangerous ground (which he's aware of, and while she does have him over a barrel, I do think he's digging himself in deeper than he needs to), and that both of them find it exciting is very worrisome. Hongo may see Milo-sensei as someone safe to experiment with, but he's still a grown man while she's a child, and that's troubling. At this point I feel like she's treading dangerously close to the plot of Marie Corelli's 1895 bestselling novel The Sorrows of Satan - and selling your soul to get published, to the devil or otherwise, rarely turns out to be a good idea.
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