O Maidens in Your Savage Season
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 8 of
O Maidens in Your Savage Season ?
This may not have been the best looking episode of O Maidens in Your Savage Season with some truly awkward-looking figures and weird foreshortening, but it certainly did a great job with its rollercoaster of emotions. This is also where the fact that we're following five different characters works to make the story an interesting mix of romance tropes. In your average love story, both manga and otherwise, there are two major points the plot has to reach in order to fulfill its genre requirements: the one where everyone starts acting like total ninnies (see: volume six of Ao Haru Ride, which I'm totally not annoyed at right now) and the one where the couple gets together. The Young Adult coming-of-age novel adds “love thwarted” to the roster, and this week we see all of those things combine to make one episode that's a pastiche of tropes that allows us to recognize them for what they are while still acknowledging that we may prefer some over others.
Most obvious, perhaps, are the two romance standards: Izumi and Kazusa finally get together while Niina decides that she doesn't care about their mutual love and Sonezaki manages to tell everyone that she has a boyfriend. In some ways the latter is the major triumph of the episode (although Momoko telling off the guy she doesn't like was my favorite), because it marks a drastic shift in Sonezaki's understanding not just of the idea of dating, but of herself. That the show feels the need to have her spell it out with a speech about how she now realizes that love and sex aren't one and the same, which makes her feel like a mouthpiece for the writer rather than herself, it's still a major step forward for her. Whether or not things work out with her boyfriend is almost incidental; that she can now recognize her insecurities for what they are is much more important.
Although the Kazusa/Izumi relationship is played up more as the crowning glory of the episode, Sonezaki's confession does feel a bit more important, because for her it's a step towards growing up and out of high school, while Kazusa and Izumi are still wobbling along on their new-fawn legs. The Niina factor is also there to mar the landscape. While it's absolutely important that she realize that she's been repressing herself because of what the director did to her, her decision to “obsess” over Izumi doesn't feel like the right way out of the situation. It's almost as if she's equally decided to punish Kazusa for her moment of insecurity as she has to go after something she wants. In the same vein, she now knows that Izumi likes Kazusa, so that makes her decision something that can be read as deliberately mean-spirited towards both of them, the behavior that Sonezaki was convinced that her blonde classmate engaged in before she got to know her. On the other hand, Izumi's being in love with Kazusa may also make him a safe target for Niina's obsession – she knows that there's no way he'll reciprocate because he doesn't like her and is too nice to do that to his newly minted girlfriend. That Kazusa may suffer could just be the icing on her cake, if she's even thinking of that.
Niina has unquestionably been harmed by her former director. That's something that's slowly bubbling up to the surface, and an explosion may be inevitable before she can really work things through. That's partially what makes watching the Hongo/Milo-sensei storyline so difficult: we've seen this go wrong and Hongo's running towards it headlong while Milo doesn't do enough to put her off. The small favor here is that Hongo is beginning to really understand that this just isn't likely to work out. With the moment when she realizes the joy of having someone read and respond to her writing, it feels possible that she could channel this disappointment into that book she so desperately wants to publish, although that doesn't preclude her from doing something foolish in the meantime.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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