Wave, Listen to Me!
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Wave, Listen to Me! ?
There's been so much going on in Wave, Listen to Me! every week that I had almost forgotten the genesis of Minare's dive into her new, weird world of late-night radio. We've previously gotten glimpses of and references to Mitsuo, the dirtbag who scammed Minare out of 500,000 yen and then proceeded to ghost her, leaving her just despondent enough to spill her guts out on MRS local radio station. In “I Won't Believe You”, we finally get to meet the man that broke Minare's heart, which leaves us with an episode that is almost solely focused on the pair's tense reunion.
Naturally, Minare's first reaction upon receiving Mitsuo's invitation out on a date is to figure out how to murder him. Guns are fortunately hard to get a hold of in Japan, so Minare has to be content with secretly recording Mitsuo's personal information and broadcasting it on live radio…which Kanetsugu also immediately shuts down on account of it being such an obviously terrible idea. This leaves Minare relatively vulnerable when Mitsuo comes ambling back into her life. She has no plan of attack, and no backup. She doesn't also have a very good idea of what Mitsuo's intentions even are. One of the first things he does is criticize Minare's choice of lipstick, which immediately paints him as the complete tool Minare's been making him out to be, but then he gives her an envelope containing 250,000 yen. It's only half of what he owes her, sure, but he wants to make a good faith effort to pay her back, and suddenly Minare and the audience have just the tiniest reason to think Mitsuo might be turning over a new leaf.
Then Mitsuo super casually reveals something I completely missed when it originally went down: He was the guy who nearly got stabbed when Minare launched “Wave, Listen to Me!” with her own fictional account of brutally murdering the man who betrayed her. Thankfully, the script is smart enough to have Minare pick up on the biggest red flag about the whole scenario, which is that if someone was so freaked out by their life lining up with her broadcast story, Mitsuo must have been pulling the same old tricks on yet another woman. Love is complicated, though, and Minare still finds herself attracted to this creepy loser, which leads to them spending the whole day together on an admittedly awesome looking date, and Minare's guard is even down enough for her end up back in his apartment.
This final apartment scene is the highlight of the episode, because we see Minare falling back into the old intimate routines of their relationship, even though she doesn't trust Mitsuo for a second. It's complex and compelling writing that doesn't resort to cheap drama or artificially heightened romantic tension. A lesser show probably would have gone for a more flirtatious and sexual rapport between the two, but most of the pair's dialogue is framed by Minare laying Mitsuo's head in her lap and cleaning his ears (a Hiroaki Samura staple, if Blade of the Immortal is any indication). It's probably the most tender seeming and open we've ever seen Minare be, and it makes her state-of-mind from back in episode one that much more relatable. She really loved this guy, once.
The ear-picking also leaves Mitsuo completely at Minare's whims, which makes the tense turnaround of the exchange doubly effective. Once he starts slipping back into his habits of shirking responsibility and taking advantage of other women's weaknesses, Minare goes in for the attack, pinning Mitsuo's head between her thighs with so much force that he begins to bleed. For a second, you think she really might kill the guy, though she opts for a painful looking suplex instead. It's silly and over-the-top in Wave's particular style, but its also a very satisfying climax, one that reaffirms Minare's newfound sense of place and purpose. She doesn't need his money, not wanting to be complicit in his leeching, and she throws his smug aloofness back in his face in a way that is just so damned satisfying. The guy blew all of her cash at the racetracks, and still expects to find other women who will cook for him and take care of him and generally validate his belief that he can get away with whatever the hell he wants, and that he owes nobody anything. The preview for next week suggests that Mitsuo isn't done getting his comeuppance just yet, but Minare already has one undisputable victory under her belt, and I'm more than happy to celebrate that.
Odds and Ends
• You've Got a Face Made for Radio: There are so many good Minare faces this week, but after some painful deliberation, I narrowed the best pick to the pair she gives when she initially gets Mitsuo's text: The first is her dead-eyed attempt at looking calm and non-threatening, which is immediately followed by a look at exactly how she feels about him.
• Minare calling Mizuho “Honey” when she starts to rant and rave about Mitsuo is a cute little moment, though it also breaks my heart a little bit, since I know the show is never going to actually let Minare and Mizuho date.
• Another great bit: Minare's plan to brutalize Mitsuo involves strength training with Mizuho's turtles' tank and researching the kill moves in Tony Jaa movies. I'd personally go for more of an Iko Uwais approach, myself, if I were in her shoes, but it's a solid choice all the same.
Wave, Listen to Me! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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