Do you want to build a snowman?
The Grown-Up in me is saying “Gee, Anna, cutting it close? Nobunagun and Noragami are two days away.” But the kid in me is saying “SQUEE SQUEE BACK TO BACK SAKURA TRICK TIME NAO!”
If there had been any doubt that Sakura Trick is throwing slice-of-life static universes to the wind, this episode, shored up by last week’s, has really been…depressing, in a way. I used the word “finality” last time, and this week brought it up like the looming mountain ahead. But there’s still plenty of open road between here and there. Though considering the implications socially about our lead characters’ lives, perhaps “oncoming storm” is more appropriate, and these are starting to feel like the last bit of sunshine.
Fitting then, that this episode is about having no sunshine. In more ways than one.
Mind, I don’t think we’re headed for a sad ending. Only that this week’s tone was very…looming.
It is snowing! Something that doesn’t happen often, and the girls are split right down the middle. Haruka and Shizuku love the snow and want to eat outside. Kotone, Yuu, and Yuzu are against. With Kaede abstaining a vote (due to the final student council meeting of the academic year), inside lunch wins! Unfortunately for Archbishop Kotone and her forces, Pope Haruka has chosen to secede, taking Shizuku outside where they will eat lunch!
Shizuku suggests, however, they return inside, it is rather cold for them. But Haruka insists. It may not snow the next two years. She will not miss her only high school snow (oh come on Haruka, it will snow next season, it has to).
Shizuku observes that Haruka is like Kotone in this regard. And that is why they both lead the Church of Yuri.
The show will elaborate on this, but by flashing back to Episode 3 where Kotone got serious-face, it puts the idea in your head without anyone saying it that this snow, which will probably be gone by tomorrow or the day after, is a metaphor. Or am I confusing my metaphors and analogies again? DAMN MOON SPEAK!
Haruka (arguably influenced by Head Haruka), also notes this. We are reminded quite quickly, and bitterly, that for Shizuku and Kotone, the party doesn’t last forever. Their relationship has a defined end, and that end is graduation, which is now just over two years away.
The whole “Kotone has a fiance” thing is a mixed bag, but on the whole I think it is a wonderful element in this series (wonderful in the sense that, it gives me something to target as “the villain” >.>). On the one hand, could Kotone abandon the wedding plans? Absolutely. If she tried really hard. Theoretically. We don’t have a lot of CONCRETE info on her family at this point, but if Episode 7 was any indication, it is obvious Kotone does not have a Kool Aid Mom or a loving, if even present, father (we know he exists, I mean present physically and emotionally).
But the marriage is more than JUST a plot point to tug at the heart strings (though it’s VERY good at that). It’s nice to see a show recognize that marriage is a complicated issue. You CAN love someone, deeply, and be awful marriage partners, and vice-versa. That doesn’t even account for the social issues involved…in short…while the kid in me wants Kotone to throw her family obligations out the window, the adult in me understands the myriad pressures. In regards to the structure, here, though? It is the symbol of adulthood. Sakura Trick has taken the Yuri trope of school-settings and, essentially, deconstructed it this episode. Fitting that Kaede and Yuzu return to their role as Yuri-anime commentators.
If you don’t know, a deconstruction is taking a concept and playing it “straight”, or “real”. Madoka Magica is sometimes touted as a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. The movie Hancock tries to do this for superheroes. Although for superheroes in general you could regard this as a Bronze Age mentality (the comic book bronze age, not the…you know, Spartan bronze age), where actions had consequences (which is generally regarded to have started with the death of Gwen Stacy in Spiderman. Oh, spoilers.).
How is Sakura Trick a deconstruction? Well, as a comedy we have to remember this is probably not the focus, but more a motif, fitting into the theme of lampooning the Yuri genre. But the marriage looming ahead for Kotone is an example of that. This may be high school, but it IS still high school. It is finite. The reason high schools are common Yuri settings, as we’ve discussed, is because that is a culturally “safe” place to explore those ideas without a lot of backlash. You can carry on a flirty romance for season after season, episode after episode, characters never aging, not really, and enjoy the bliss of the happy couple forever.
But for the real world, high school is not forever. What happens then? Shizuku knows EXACTLY how many days are left until Kotone leaves and goes back to her family. And it would not surprise me at all if it was shown that she has counted them. We are seeing a very real demonstration of time passing. We have (almost) gone through exactly one year in one season.
In that sense, the episodes we have seen might be counted as the memories that linger in the character’s head many years down the road. Because that’s how shit happens, right? You end up remembering some truly great moments, some bad moments, and just random lines of humdrum shit.
This passage of time compounds the “threat” of the Point B, which, skipping ahead, is Kaede figuring out that Haruka and Yuu are dating and confronting Mitsuki over it. In a regular slice of life series, that is no threat. Status quo must be maintained at all costs, and while they might make a few self aware jabs at the contrivances made to hide the relationship, Mitsuki would never, ever find out.
But the mere fact we have a grip that time IS passing gives that scene tension. Time DOES move forward here, measurably. Dynamics can change. Could this be one of them? Sakura Trick has done a great job of leaving that door open JUST wide enough to leave that lingering doubt, and that makes it engaging.
And seeing Shizuku quietly contemplating, adding that “she understands” Kotone’s desire, subtly reminding us that she now has something she gives a damn about, in the snow, winter, the season of death, of endings…it is such a rich scene that you can’t help but feel the tugs when Shizuku’s cold armor breaks and she starts tearing up, lamenting that she doesn’t want a two year girlfriend. She wants to go beyond, to forever.
Haruka, in the meanwhile, ran inside for a moment, and it was to force the others out. Kotone sneaks up on Shizuku, giving her a gentle kiss on the cheek. In arguably the biggest moment of “Fuck the World!”, Shizuku turns and the pair share a full on kiss. In the school courtyard and everything. In full view of the windows, where all the OTHER students are eating lunch. Fuck the world.
Kotone offers to make some more memories with Shizuku. Subtly, it’s implied that when they’re older, they’ll still get together and…maybe share some memories…I like that image as a consolation prize.
Well, Yuu starts a snowball fight. Of course Yuu. Of course. This was actually my favorite funny bit, but interestingly, the teams are Yuzu-Haruka-Yuu against Shizuku and Kotone….again…the pair of them vs. the world. EVEN MORE subtexty, it was established Shizuku can’t throw for crap, so arguably most of the fighting is being done by Kotone for Shizuku.
Cutting to Kaede, the student council’s meeting is over. Now is when Kaede approaches Mitsuki, and she’s evasive…but what we’re supposed to take away is she is questioning about Haruka and Yuu’s relationship.
As episode two starts, we cut away to some gym class antics. Haruka’s team loses because of her inability to jump rope…I’m not up on my lesbian stereotypes, is this one of them?
Anyway Haruka volunteers to do all the cleaning, and gets locked in the equipment room.
The girls go looking, but at the window, there’s no answer. Side note, we seem to already be in spring. Shenanigans, show! How can the trees be leafy green in March? Of course then Yuu calls out, and in what I am pretty sure is a Walking Dead gag, Haruka’s hand slams the window. She has a taste for…for brains, because there’s nothing gay about this. Well they save Haruka, after more than a few kisses.
We then see Mitsuki’s answer in flashback. She says that without proof no one should jump to conclusions. She says Haruka is just a really touchy feely person and that’s her way.
Of course, now is when Kaede notes her response only involved Haruka. It’s interesting that maybe Mitsuki is more terrified of Haruka being “taken” than anything.
Kaede feels like a girl coming upon a conspiracy DaVinci Code style or something. She’s going to look at the world and say “The fuck? Is EVERYONE a lesbian here?!” We should note, she held rather…ambivalent feelings about the matter.
Uhh…Happy White Day to all! I guess…