Most of this post is just an analysis of pupa‘s final episode, so it would be cool if people would at least read that if nothing else.
Golden Time Finale
So to nobody’s surprise, Banri and Koko end up getting back together. Not only that, he gets his much-needed closure from Linda at literally the last second, which then allows Banri to chase after the girl of his dreams without any inhibitions. In any case, I’ve ranted long and hard enough about the main character and how much I think he sucks, so I won’t get into that particular topic here. Rather, I’d like to just mention one quick thing: the imbalance in the storytelling. Golden Time devoted episodes after episodes to destroying Banri and Koko’s relationship only to have them get back together in a single episode. Doesn’t that seem a little imbalanced to anyone else? Shouldn’t the getting back together part deserve just as much (if not more) attention as the breaking up part? Episodes after episodes, we agonized (not really, but just play along with me as if Golden Time was worth watching) as the anime slowly shit on the main couple’s relationship. Then in the final episode, all it took was a vanity mirror and a visit from Koko to joggle Banri’s memory. Oh, okay.
The truth finally comes out, guys. In this week’s episode, we learn that Jack the Ripper was really Florence Nightingale all along:
In any case, Sio saves the world after nearly being tentacle-raped by aliens. And for that, her colleagues generously reward her:
Haha, forced yuri is so funny. But it’s okay, because afterwards, Jack kisses her!
So much for Asao-san.
Yeah yeah, this was a terrible adaptation. But even though this anime failed in a lot of ways, any discerning eye could tell that pupa nevertheless had promise as a story. Too bad an anime version of pupa will never live up to said promise (and I refuse to read the manga). The final “episode” is no different. What little we get is definitely intriguing, but like every other pupa episode, it has been ruined by the the adaptation’s format, i.e. 2-min of real runtime. Still, this is fittingly the most interesting “episode” we’ve gotten in quite some time.
Chibi Yume’s teddy bear is coming apart at the seams, because her dad stepped on it yesterday.
Analysis: This is an obvious metaphor for the child abuse that the two siblings are suffering in the home.
Chibi Utsutsu desperately wants to get his sister a new teddy bear, but he can’t afford it.
Analysis: He wants to heal her physical and emotional wounds, but he can’t afford to do so for a variety of reasons (can’t afford to run away, can’t afford to get treatment, can’t afford to see a psychiatrist, etc.).
It just so happens that there’s a lottery at the department store, and the grand prize is a giant teddy bear! Utsutsu desperately tries to win the grand prize, but he keeps losing. His friends even show up to give him their tickets, but it is to no avail.
Analysis: The giant teddy bear represents the possibility of the two of them getting a new father. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Utsutsu’s odds of winning are so small. Still, he wants a better father so that he and his sister will no longer have to suffer. Arita, one of Utsutsu’s friends, gives him another ticket so that our protagonist can keep trying. Arita even says, “I don’t need a stuffed animal.” In other words, Arita probably has a normal home life. As a result, he doesn’t need to compartmentalize his father into two different things: 1) the real father, who is horrible and cruel to our siblings, and 2) the abstract, conceptual notion of the father symbolized as a giant teddy bear because a father should be warm and protective of his children. Unfortunately, the odds are against Utsutsu; no matter how much he tries, he just keeps losing.
At the same time, Utsutsu has to endure the condescending remarks from one of the bunny people running the lottery: “Sorry, kid. You only get one try per ticket,” i.e. you only have one life. The bunny person continues, “Learning to compromise is a big step toward growing up.” These words echo the way outsiders can disengage themselves from an uncomfortable situation. Surely, it isn’t impossible to notice when a child is being abused, but we often don’t want to get involved. We tell ourselves that it’s none of our business. We convince ourselves that nothing can be done about it–… that the children have merely been dealt a bad hand in life. Hell, their lives suck, but hey, learning to cope is “a big step toward growing up.” So just deal with it, kid! We’ll even call it a “compromise,” so the moral obligation is now on the kid to take an active role in finding a solution to his child abuse. Finally, the bunny person gets in one last jab: “It must take real talent to lose this much!” In other words, maybe it’s the kid’s fault ’cause no parent is like that!
In the end, all Utsutsu manages to win is a flower hairpin for his sister. In fact, it is literally the seventh prize, which is ironic because you often think of the number seven as lucky, but Utsutsu and his sister are anything but lucky. Even so, Yume is over-the-moon for the hairpin, which she happily wears because it matches the four-leaf clover hairpin that she gave him.
Analysis: They can’t afford to heal the wounds inflicted upon them by their father, but through this ordeal, the siblings form an unbreakable bond. This bond is symbolized by their matching hairpins. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is a good ending for these kids by any means. In times of need, we make what would normally be questionable decisions in order to cope with a horrible situation. So it’s perfectly understandable that Utsutsu and Yume would form an unbreakable bond with each other in order to survive their father’s abuse. This same bond, however, cannot and should not be carried over into the realm of normalcy.
At the start of the story, the father has long since disappeared from their lives. As a result, there is no longer a need for our two siblings to have an unbreakable bond. Instead, both Utsutsu and Yume should be branching out, meeting new people, making new friends, forging new relationships through said friends, etc. Unfortunately, this unbreakable bond prevents them from doing so. So when Yume gains this “insatiable hunger for the flesh” (read: she becomes aware of her sexual desires), she and Utsutsu opt to engage in an unhealthy incestuous affair. After all, if Yume had been a normal girl, she’d fall in love with another person, i.e. not Utsutsu. But their bond is unbreakable, after all; it has helped them survive a tumultuous early childhood. As a result, it’s easy to think that this bond is both sacred and healthy, but it’s definitely not. To use an example, triage is often necessary during disasters, but it would be heartless to to apply the same mentality in most cases.
Some telling bits of dialogue:
Utsutsu: “[The hairpin] is okay? What about the bear?”
Yume: “Mr. Bear is hurt, but he’s still here.”
When our two siblings still had to endure their father’s abuse, it made sense to say, “Yeah, I’m hurt, but for now, it’s okay because at least I’m still here.” You can’t keep saying that forever though. Eventually, you’ll have to treat the wound before it festers. But unfortunately, you can tell that the siblings continued to carry this sort of mentality long after they had escaped their father’s abuse. So even though it is highly likely that they are both suffering from emotional wounds, they’ve gotten used to ignoring the pain even when they can afford to seek help.
Silver Spoon S2 Finale
Boy, I’m hungry after watching this episode. I also like the exchange between Yuugo and his dad. You can definitely see the main character’s growth on display; he tries his best to compromise and understand where his father’s coming from, but at the same time, he stands up for himself when he finds it necessary to do so. Again, I don’t like Silver Spoon as a whole. Most of the time, the anime’s just a little too “Chicken Soupy for the Soul” for my tastes. But I like human interactions, especially when there are conflicts. Having said that, I’m not asking for outrageous, tear-jerking conflicts. I simply feel that the dinner scene strikes a perfect, realistic balance between Silver Spoon‘s slice-of-life fluff and something you’d find in your average Korean drama.
It’s also nice to see Yuugo brush off the revelation that the bacon text from his dad had really been sent by his mom all along. Sure, it’s always nice to have our parents’ approval in everything that we take seriously, but part of growing up is realizing that our sense of accomplishment is not intrinsically tied to what our parents think of us. A lot of kids — especially Asian kids — seem to struggle with this. As for the big cook-out when Yuugo’s mom pays him a visit, it’s whatever. It’s what I don’t enjoy about the show. I’m well aware that the show’s target audience adores these moments, but they bore the fuck out of me. Oh well. I don’t hate Silver Spoon, and there have definitely been times when the narrative has drawn me in, but I can’t say I liked the anime either.