An analysis of this episode would not be complete without mentioning the most controversial part of it, I suppose.
The infamous assertion by Hazuki that “Kumiko doesn’t know her own feelings.”
In an effort to be objective , I went and watched the previous eight episodes prior this, combing them for tiny details.
And guess what?
While there are many signs that Shuuichi liked Kumiko romantically. (Going out of the way to initiate conversations, looking at Kumiko intently and happily, being concerned with what she is doing etc). I have not seen any freaking sign that Kumiko liked Shuuichi back.
You may say that the zero sign meant Kumiko haven’t realized her feelings for Shuuichi as of yet. But, I beg to differ, even if you have not realized your feelings for someone, you would subconsciously still show signs of attraction. This is doubly important in a work with a visual medium, which is why Hazuki’s assertion fell flat on its face.
In fact, after watching all the previous episodes, I’m more willing to bet on Kumiko not realizing her feelings for REINA than for Shuuichi. Because these signs of attraction that Shuuichi shows Kumiko? Kumiko shows it back for Reina. And more intently and more times as well, considering Kumiko is our point of view character.
That said, I don’t think Hazuki does this maliciously or is trying to be misleading.
First of all, we must remember Hazuki’s character. Its not like the show made any attempt to set up Hazuki as someone “intuitive” or “perceptive” of other people.
Quite the opposite in fact.
Just in the early episodes, we see these scenes. Hazuki brings a tuba mouthpiece instead of a trumpet. Hazuki gets conned by Asuka in playing the tuba.
Of the two of Kumiko’s close friends it is Midori, who is the more perceptive one. Hazuki is the energetic one. The determined one. And as she played the tuba, we see in the series that Hazuki grew into being the supportive one.
Remember this line from the previous episode?
A tuba’s job is supporting people from the wings.
As the series goes on, Hazuki became someone who is supportive of her friends. But, at that time, when Hazuki said that to Shuuichi she just got her heart broken and that trait became more of a unintended lifeline for Hazuki to salvage the situation and move forward.
After all, Hazuki got rejected by her crush in favor of her close friend. While that rejection hurt, at least, if Shuuich and Kumiko get together, Hazuki can take solace in the fact that the two people that she loved are happy. As a supportive friend, its an ending that Hazuki can accept and move forward from…. Like a tuba who support others from the wings, but never the star…
And it’s not like Kumiko did a wonderful job of rejecting Hazuki’s assertion anyway. Anyone not privy to how Kumiko treats Shuuichi in private might make the same mistake. Shuuichi seeks Kumiko often enough for private one on one chats and while we the audience know that nothing romantic is going on, the other characters doesn’t have the same privilege.
I do understand that while Kumiko might have zero romantic feelings for Shuuichi in the past, it doesn’t mean that Kumiko can’t develop them in the future.
Its not like Shuuichi is Kumiko’s mortal enemy or something. They are childhood friends even. And considering that everyone seems to want them together, its possible that Kumiko might develop something for him.
Which is possibly why, I don’t want Kumiko to end up with Shuuichi.
Because it seems like that Shuuichi representing the path of least resistance.
The path of following the crowd and letting them dictate her decisions.
The path wherein the environment pick the choices for Kumiko again.
I don’t know about you. And perhaps, I’m being idealistic, but I don’t want that to happen. Didn’t Kumiko go to Kitauji to find a new her? Picking Shuuichi would seem like a setback in this case.
Anyway before I close on this episode. I would like to say how I love Kumiko and Reina’s developing relationship is turning out to be.
In a situation wherein Kumiko’s relationships are slowly becoming more complicated and the pressure of the audition draws near. I kinda like how the Kumiko’s newly formed relationship with Reina has become a rock of support for her.
We know as early as episode 3, when Kumiko heard Reina play “Its from the New World” that Reina has massive potential for inspiring Kumiko. And we see it. As Reina became a steadying force that Kumiko used to keep herself from floundering and just going with the flow.
As for Reina, I kinda liked she saw how troubled Kumiko is with just a glance.
Heh. Evidence that Reina’s confession of stalking Kumiko and wanting to be closer to her isn’t just all talk. ^^