Watching Ruru’s distraught mother take her grief out on Honoka, I can understand her feelings a little bit. None of us can say what Ruru’s last days were like — not even Honoka. Only her parents would know. Maybe they were particularly painful, because of what happened between her and her best friend. And maybe her mother feels as though she had to bear a heavier burden because her daughter was abandoned by her best friend. As an adult myself, I personally wouldn’t blame Honoka; after all, she’s just a kid, and I would’ve thought, “At least my daughter made a friend before she died.” But y’know, everyone reacts to tragedy differently, and it’s clear that these two parents aren’t in a healthy mental state. I don’t agree with her mother’s rants, but I can understand where it’s coming from. It’s just a pity that she has to deal with the loss of her daughter in the worst possible way. Okay, it’s not the worst possible way. She hasn’t, for instance, become a serial killer or anything. That would be pretty bad, but you get what I mean, right? Life rarely often is binary, especially when it comes to our feelings. Ruru’s mother doesn’t have to resent Honoka, but she does, and that’s what I mean I say she’s having the worst possible reaction. But it happens…
So what happened between Honoka and Ruru anyway? First things first, Ruru had a terminal disease, so she wasn’t long for this world to begin with. So yeah, Honoka didn’t kill her best friend. That was obvious from the start. She also didn’t really do anything all that horrible — well, not in my mind, anyway. As we already know, the two girls collaborated on a manga. As they grew closer and closer to each other, Ruru worked up the courage to potentially take their friendship even further. Knowing, however, that her friend wouldn’t have long to live, Honoka rejected the attempt. She was afraid that if they got any closer, if she ended up falling in love with Ruru, it would be too painful when the latter inevitably dies. Okay, that’s understandable. A little selfish, but hey, Honoka was a kid back then, and hell, she’s still a kid now. Then to compound matters, Honoka decided that they should stop seeing each other. The manga was still unfinished at this point, and Ruru would have to finish it on her own. I personally wouldn’t have done the same. Imagining myself in Honoka’s position, I would’ve at least finished the manga together, but again, people deal with hardships differently. It’s just too bad Honoka had the worst possible… reaction… wait a minute…
The last time they saw each other, Ruru said she would finish the manga on her own. And in the final chapter, the teacher would read the dead heroine’s letter. Ruru made it seem as though the contents of the letter would be nasty. The letter didn’t end up being nasty, but still, in that very moment, the girl appeared to have the worst possible reaction. Granted, Honoka was abandoning her, and in a vacuum, you can understand Ruru’s feelings, but you start to see a pattern here. Anyway, Ruru died, the final chapter gets published, and Honoka has never read it. She’s too scared to read it. The girl has always been quiet and distant, but ever since then, she’s become rather mean. Her words, as much as they amuse me sometimes, can be rather nasty. Then there was that semi-rape attempt moment in the woods when Honoka tried to debase herself with Yuta. Knowing these kids, Honoka probably wouldn’t have gone through with it if Yuta had reciprocated. But again, I can’t help but feel as though Honoka had one of the worst possible reactions. I think I would’ve read the last chapter. I would’ve been too curious. I would want to know if my best friend really went through with it.
Over and over again, I can understand these characters’ reactions, but when each and every single one of them has the worst possible reaction, it starts to feel a bit manufactured. The mother’s grief is dialed up to the nth degree in order to really amplify Honoka’s feelings of intense guilt. Honoka ended her friendship with Ruru way too prematurely in order for us to get this tragic ending where they never even got to finish the manga together. Ruru got nasty in their last meeting to prevent Honoka from reading the final chapter, thereby ensuring years and years of pain and sorrow. Honoka then claims that she killed her best friend! Oh, she meant this metaphorically. But c’mon, it’s like the worst possible reaction you could have! And that is pretty much the theme of this episode. Let’s overreact, so we can have our heavy emotions literally come pouring down from the sky. And every step is calculated in order to lead to that all-too-predictable moment. Yuta shoves the final chapter of the manga into Honoka’s reluctant hand. She screams that she doesn’t want to read it, he screams at her to read it, gosh I just feel like screaming too! She finally has the courage to accept her friend’s final feelings, and whattaya know? The girl finally — finally — sees for herself that Ruru loved her to the very end. What a climax.
— When you have your dead daughter’s photographs plastered across your walls, that’s not a very healthy sign. They don’t have to forget Ruru completely, but they’re never going to move on at this rate. Your wounds won’t heal if you keep reopening them. Still, I like the setting. There’s an unsettling quality to it.
— Ruru said Honoka’s drawings were rough, and I wanted to say hers aren’t much better, but… well, I guess we shouldn’t be nitpicking a dead kid’s art.
— Honoka wanted to avoid cliches, but her friend countered that cliches often do appear in real life. That’s true, but I’m rather amused by this cheeky sort of rationalization within the story itself: “Hey, what’s about to come is definitely cliche, but I already defended myself, so you guys won’t mind, right?”
— Hoo boy, yuri in my anime? That guarantees bloggers will love this episode.
— Katsuhira suggests that they just, y’know, talk to Honoka. Holy moly, communication between anime characters?! I don’t like you very much as a character, but hey, I’ll give credit where credit’s due. He rises a bit in my book just for that alone.
— It’s a little creepy to look up someone’s address, but I guess it’s okay if a cute girl does it.
— Yuta’s running gait is a bit peculiar.
— I don’t agree that being Kiznaivers makes them closer than actual friends or lovers. Y’see, a good lover would understand how I’m feeling without some gimmick to assist them. That is why a bond between two lovers can be so special.
— I wonder if Ruru’s parents have read the final chapter. Maybe it would help them if they haven’t. And oh yeah, if I had liked this anime, I could see myself doing some corny analysis that ends with, “And ironically, even though Ruru gives Honoka the permission to forget her, she will never be… forgotten.”
As snarky as I’m coming across, I actually think this is Kiznaiver’s strongest episode yet. The scene on the beach is corny, but I’ll take happy corny over sad corny any day of the week. Nonetheless, it is a very typical Okada episode, and the characters have very typical Okada feelings and reactions. I thus can’t help but feel as though I’ve seen this before. The characters aren’t the same, the plot details aren’t the same, but the emotional arcs are very similar to what she’s done in the past. Hey, if it works — and from what I can tell, I seem to be one of the show’s few detractors — then I guess she doesn’t have to change a thing. But personally, as prolific as she’s been, I don’t think Okada has grown very much as a writer.