Wave, Listen to Me!
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Wave, Listen to Me! ?
Leave it to Minare Koda to perpetually act as the architect for all of her own misfortune. I knew that the “paranormal investigation” that Minare and Mizuho embarked on last week was bound to be rooted in something much more mundane than a ghost story or even an actual murder. What makes Wave successful is how it gets us to a not-all-that-surprising conclusion while still entertaining and mystifying us. For one, there's just so much comedy gold to be mined from having Minare and Co. get dressed up in goofy outfits so they can crawl about in some manner of inhuman muck for our amusement. “I Want to Cry” basically forgoes any attempts at creating a chilling atmosphere, but it puts you squarely in our heroine's shoes when it comes to how goddamned gross and weird this whole scenario is.
First off, Shinji reveals that his supposedly dead girlfriend was Ritsuko Azohara, a third-generation Slavic-Japanese woman who was obsessed with hot-springs and manga. The pair were definitely a little strange, as they decided to consummate their love at a secluded hot-springs, though the spot they ended up picking (by a random throw of the dart, no less) was still a touristy type of scene, so Shinji and Ritsuko hiked way up into the mountains so they could strip themselves bare and do the midnight organ fight in a cloud of volcanic gases. Shinji passed out, was recovered by some locals, and Ritsuko was never seen or heard from again. Now, months later, fetid black sludge has overtaken his home with the stench of death. When Minare braves the crawlspace above Shinji's apartment, she spots bags of rotting meat mixed with spillage from a broken pipe. So, there's no haunting to speak of, but Minare and the cops both jump to the “crazy guy hacked up his girlfriend and hid her in a bunch of plastic bags” conclusion pretty quickly.
It's a surprisingly engaging scenario, mostly because it feels like Wave can't possibly stick with such a macabre story without throwing in some kind of twist, which comes when Minare gets an upsetting revelation from the cops: The bags didn't contain human meat, just a bunch of spoiled mutton chops. These chops, as it so happens, were left by Minare herself in a storage compartment ages ago, which she of course forgot about and left to rot. The comedic and dramatic conclusion of this whole wacky journey comes when Minare invites an exonerated Shinji onto her show to formally apologize for getting him accused of first-degree murder. In between her prostrating and blubbering, she even manages to put out a Missing Persons report on Ritsuko, which is now apparently a recurring segment on Wave, Listen to Me! — much to Mizuo and Kanetsugu's surprise.
Honestly, there's not much else to recap or analyze this week, since the whole episode is one long punchline to the setup from last week. The single aside we get is admittedly pretty amusing, where Minare imagines a scenario that explains Ritsuko's disappearance that involves her being a sleeper-cell spy for Eastern Europe, while Shinji is just a stone-cold psychopath. This diversion isn't the strongest of the visits to Minare's mindscape, mostly because there aren't any action flourishes or genre embellishments to make it stand-out. There was one nasty little detail, though: When Killer Shinji bashes Spy Ritsuko's head in with a rock, her body twitches and spasms uncomfortably in the background for a really long time. I sure hope the real Ritsuko is doing better than the one Minare dreamed up. I normally wouldn't expect her to come back into the story, but Wave has been surprisingly committed to fleshing out its supporting cast, so anything is possible at this point.
Odds and Ends
• You've Got a Face Made For Radio: It's a two-way tie between the above screencap, which show's Minare's reaction to finding out that she has continued to be the cause of all of Shinji Oki's suffering, and this split-second reaction Minare has to getting the meat-sludge right on her nose.
• I have to admit, Nakahara is a champ for being so willing to distract and potentially subdue the guy that everyone thinks is a dangerous serial killer.
• Props to the show's sound designers, who always do an excellent job of mixing Minare's in-booth rants to contrast with the over-air quality of her broadcast. It's a small but important touch.
Wave, Listen to Me! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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