Welcome back my dear friend. Yes back, hopefully you’re not reading this ahead of part 1. I understand that time is a precious thing. I’d never want to waste it. So to ease the burden I did good by you and separated my review into 3 more digestible parts. So you better have read part 1. Don’t come here, reading part 2 and then ask me; “when is part 3 coming out. I love Kaede she’s my favorite character”.
When do you get part 3? You don’t get it. You broke the rules, failing to abide but the fax mentis incendium gloria culpum of our reader agreement. It’s right there in my about page. In black and white, clear as crystal. Don’t read part 1, you get nothing! You lose! Good day sir! So please be sure to check that out, as we proceed onto Koga and Futaba okay.
Tomoe Koga Arc
When I think of Koga’s arc all I can think of is how botched it feels. I legit think that this might be the worse arc in the show. Which is a real shame because Koga’s a really enjoyable character. There are good things to say about this arc. The arc is well paced, allowing time for things to develop. I wish more of the later arcs were given the time to allow things to run its course. It has a satisfying build up playing around with the mystery of what actually is happening and really expanding on Koga and Sakuta’s friendship. Koga’s arc also is great in not creating a vacuum that only solely focuses on Koga’s issue. Koga’s time stoppage effects the central relationship between Mai and Sakuta, presenting them with some strain to overcome.
The whole time I’m just thinking Koga has to brush up on her 2009 Rom-Coms because honey, He’s Just Not That into You. What ultimately causes this arc to suffer is that there just isn’t any tension. We all know that the chances of Sakuta leaving Mai is 0%. Sorry, Mai is just too awesome to really compete with. Koga’s arc ends with what is the equivalent of a marriage proposal rejection and while it is presented as a grandiose and gorgeous scene, I can’t help but feel that this went out with a whimper.
I think there are two ways that this could have been remedied to ensure this character dilemma resonant more. The first solution is to paint Koga as a viable option by establishing Sakuta’s self-doubt. It might seem out of character for Sakuta as he is very laid-back and self-assured. Yet, when you’re dating THE Bunny Girl Senpai I think it’s not unreasonable that a little impostor syndrome starts to form.
Mai is a beautiful famous actor, has a great personality, and is a year older. Which back in high school that does kind of mean something. Not to mention Sakuta maybe has some self-doubt in how their relationship started only after gaining a hero complexion, rescuing her from fading into oblivion. Mai is literally a dream come true, and this could be explored in the same vain as Shrek 2. Would she have noticed me under normal circumstances, and does she deserves a prince charming not a rascal.
If you established something like this than maybe you begin to see the appeal of Koga. Koga is a kind and fun person that doesn’t come with a burden of expectation. Potential for a nice twist if the blame for the 2nd time it was Sakuta rewinding the day as he doesn’t know if it’s best to not let Koga walk away. In the end, Sakuta realizes that despite Koga being a comforting alternative it’s not love.
Love isn’t always about rationality, and when it’s true love like what Sakuta feels for Mai then it’s worth taking any risk. Koga also can come forward and confess she caught feelings and that she also has to be honest to herself about her feelings. The two of them come to an agreement to push one another forward and bond in what is a really touching friendship.
The other solution would maybe be that this just shouldn’t be the 2nd arc of the show. While we all know the two protagonists are destined to end together; it’s too early in the relationship to not have a sense of hopelessness for Koga. Maybe if this way like the 2nd to last arc than the dynamics change a lot. Now Sakuta and Mai are an item and have just been this great couple that we know and love. Then have Koga slowly emerge from this sideline budding friend character finally get her chance in the limelight. Koga’s story really needs a sense of futility.
Koga is in a predicament and loves someone who isn’t emotionally available. A bittersweet sentiment that a lot of teens can relate to. There’s also a way to present it as sort of a non-vindictive jealousy thing. Not jealous in the sense of being antagonistic towards Mai. The fact being Koga wants what Mai has, and that’s not necessarily Sakuta. It’s a sincere relationship built on respect and caring towards one another. Some maturity in Koga’s self-evaluation in the end would have really shown the growth in her arc. Especially since she started with really shallow motives of just wanting her friend’s approval and to deter “crappy” suitors.
I don’t know Koga is too cute and the friend zone is all too real to say that there’s no enjoyment to be had in this arc. There’s just a longing desire for there to be more.
Rio Futaba Arc
An old supposed Japanese phrase goes,
“You have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The Second face you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.” -Unkown
I wouldn’t say this directly applies or inspired this arc, but it does illustrate the central conflict of external perception and the true self. Futaba’s intellect has sort of constructed this cold exterior which is preventing her from achieving the attention and validation she craves. Essentially it is illogical for two opposing desires to exist within Futaba so they need to form their own independent identities. The ending of this arc is obviously that Futaba learns that both versions of herself represent her complete being and she merges the two to represent her true self.
There’s something this time around that just feels really rewarding from an audience perspective. Not only seeing Futaba get the limelight but also demonstrate how dimensional and rounded her character is. This especially considering that Futaba inclusion is sort of a plot-functioning character role. A viewer can recognize that Futaba is sort of the oracle or advisor archetype. Someone the main character goes to in need of council to overcome present troubles. In other stories that would be her purpose and there’s no need to emphasize many aspects of her personality or identity besides her being intelligent.
There’s a lot of details on display that shows how well this show is at illustrating certain points. I love the subtle changes in character design that differentiate the two sides of Futaba. Sure, it might just be a different hairstyle and whether she wears glasses or contacts but let’s be honest that’s a huge difference in crafting one’s image. People get a haircut or hair dyed to start new after a breakup. Or will decide to wear certain attire to certain occasions? To and end it is just satisfying to see the complete Futaba represented visually by sporting a high ponytail and glasses. Truly becoming the coolest Futaba.
There’re some clever ways the contrast the two aspects of Futaba by running parallel scenes. With both there’s a scene where Futaba is taking a bath and Sakuta is outside to the door. The more left brain driven Futaba is pretty much agitated by Sakuta and snarkly asks him to leave her alone. This is juxtaposed when the same scenario with the Right brain Futaba who starts conversation with an unwilling Sakuta.
Overall, I enjoy Futaba’s arc because it is so found within human nature. To some degree, everyone can see themselves grappling with this particular conflict. People are complex creatures even separating Futaba into a binary separation is a gross oversimplification of everything Futaba is. How the world, our inhibition, certain people, our even our own philosophies shape how we understand our inner self and explore that by molding our external image is really fascinating.
This arc deserves a lot of credit for tackling this type of struggle with an usually unexplored maturity. Let’s be honest the conflict stems from Futaba having an OnlyFans account and how many shows can you say explored that kind of plot. Not just introduce them but doing it without prejudice against the person either. Futaba isn’t getting reprimanded or painted immoral for posting suggestive pictures online. The show handles that aspect well by getting to the root of the problem and discouraging it as it’s a non-solution to Futaba’s personal insecurities and a part of her will always resent herself if the behavior continues.
I just got to be straight honest, Rio Futaba is just an awesome character. I feel like I’m ride and die with Mai. Yet, I can honestly say Futaba gives her a run for her money in the “Best Girl” department.
To Be Continued….
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