I’m afraid I have to apologize to you guys ahead of time, because this won’t be a long post. I just really do not know how to adequately address the level of sexual violence in this week’s episode. If you came here expecting the usual deep dive into the show’s themes and ideas, I’m afraid I have little to offer that isn’t emotionally charged. Sorry. Of course, I finished the episode with a bunch of thoughts swirling through my mind. Why was the portrayal of forced sodomy committed on the man so explicit when Fumino’s multiple assaults were only alluded to? Do we take sexual assault against men less seriously? Or does the episode seek to pre-emptively blunt any potential accusations of misogyny against it by “leveling the playing field,” so to speak. I don’t know. I just don’t have any good answers to offer. Honestly, maybe I don’t want to know the answers.
Strictly speaking, I can’t say that this episode adds much to the overall narrative. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t do anything to advance the main story. Moreover, I doubt we’ll ever encounter Fumino and Satoru again. The scene where the girl picks up a katana and tries to defend herself is ridiculous. It is twice as long as it needed to be… assuming it ever need to be in the first place. As for Ichiro, did he at least undergo any significant character development? I dunno, it’s arguable. He’s still nowhere close to mastering his body. If he hadn’t worn himself out the first time he tried to save those two, Fumino wouldn’t have gotten kidnapped again, drugged up again, and likely assaulted again. But he’s not the villain. No. He’s just an old man trying to do his best. And ultimately, he has to decide what he’s going to do when he does catch up to the bad guys. You can’t always scare them off with kicks and punches. You can’t move them with emotional speeches. But at the same time, is it right to cripple these criminals beyond belief? Yes, I know what they’ve done to Fumino and countless girls like her. But was there no other solution? At this point, who is even pulling the strings anymore? Can we honestly say Ichiro is in full control of his body? Or does someone or something assume control in these moments in order to enact vengeful justice?
There are no winners here. I repeat this to myself as I watch Fumino run into her fiance’s arms with a smile on her face. After what she just experienced? After what the story just put her through in order to put our hearts through the wringer? The credits will roll, and most of us will hope that those two live happily ever after. But can Ichiro also heal minds? Maybe he can cure cancer, but can he erase mental scars? Otherwise, Fumino might be haunted by for a long, long time to come. Some things just can’t be hand-waved away. Anyway, I don’t want to sit here and spout vaguely pretentious lines over and over about the gravity of sexual assault. To put it simply, this was an episode that I found difficult to finish. I felt a pit in my stomach as soon as Satoru proposed to Fumino. You just knew things would go badly for them. So when the girl got kidnapped again, I skipped ahead to the ending. I had to know the outcome before I would continue. I did eventually go back and watch the old man wreak his vengeance, but it did little to quell my discomfort. She’s alive at least. But at what cost? If the episode was trying to make me feel bad, I guess it did its job and it did its job well. But that’s all I’m going to say about it.