All of my warm fuzzies.
I originally hit the “play” button on Sakura Trick this week mostly out of obligation, but leave it to this show to fix my bad mood. Well, lifting my spirits for a time, I can’t say it cures all of my cynicism. But then again no weapon could ever do that.
This show messes with the established format this week, in more ways than one. The first is it is divided into three, rather than two parts. Not exactly groundbreaking but it did catch me off guard.
The second is that none of these little stories is exactly what we’ve come to regard as normal. The first part more so than the rest and it really shows.
It’s New Year’s Eve and Haruka calls Yuu on her cell to chat with her. Just to hear her voice, she says. Though her subversive goal becomes clear that she wants to be the very first person Yuu wishes a “Happy New Year” to. This is one of those Japanese holiday customs that is slightly off-base, but whereas this might normally be a source of confusion, since it is not the focus it isn’t distracting at all and there is plenty to latch onto to understand why this is important to Haruka without needing the exact details of the past 100 years of Japanese cultural identity to get the point.
And the surprise: That’s all this episode is. It is the pair on the phone with each other one night before a big holiday, just a day in the life. While that sounds boring on paper, the camera cutting between the two, and Mitsuki’s interruptions, with POV shifting at just the right times, makes two high school girls on the phone really damn engaging, when usually having to listen to such might make you want to reconsider your opinion on whether or not we should classify murder as a misdemeanor.
I even recommend this if your experience with the series is light because it is a great microcosm of the Yuu-Haruka relationship, which has to be the thing that carries this part of the show, the chemistry between these two (and later, Mitsuki’s dynamic thrown in).
There is a concept in metaphysics about the division of your actions. The two sides (much like Yin and Yang) are the Sei and the Do. Sei is your rational brain. Sei can see the red hot burner on your stove, and knows what that means. It is a trained process you have. Military color guards are exhibiting immense Sei energy, they are calculating exactly their movements and pin-point precision to pull them off because it is the object of their undivided attention. Do, on the other hand, is when your hand brushes over the burner and the sensation of the heat causes you to recoil instinctively. It is reflex, your gut. A person who, despite having no training, can pick up a tennis racket and beat his instructor in his very first practice match is exhibiting Do energy.
And that is very much the relationship our main couple has found themselves in. This has always been apparent, but this week it is almost an exhibition in this dynamic, rather than being an underlying theme. Yuu asks why Haruka called, thinking there is a process. Haruka answers she wanted to hear Yuu’s voice, an impulse.
Now, the whole “conflict” this episode is, Yuu is being summoned by her parents to spend the last half hour of the year (before midnight and Jan 1) with her family and share their traditional yearly meal (Haruka responds her family just finishes the leftovers from Christmas. While a cute line, it says a lot about where Haruka got her “go with the flow” attitude, and also reinforces the point of structure vs. impulse). Haruka wants to be the first person Yuu says “Happy New Year” to and refuses (mostly) to acknowledge that Yuu’s family unit isn’t primarily…well…her.
Which is perfect in casting Haruka as the Do personality. More than just impulse, it demonstrates Haruka’s baser nature. Yuu has, despite her ditzy personality and rather thick skull, been the level headed one here. If Haruka had been the safety manager in this relationship, they’d have been discovered months ago (and judging by the timing here, it has been nine months since they got together.) But even more than that, Haruka is exhibiting a nature as base instinct. She is very much, and I mean no disrespect or insult here, like an animal with her impulses. My needs, my desires, my status. She barely even acknowledges Yuu’s family exists, let alone that they might have some “claim” to her over some girl who, as far Yuu’s family is concerned, is just a kid she goes to school with. Continue reading