Just Because! Ep. 11: The distance between them

Oh look, it’s Eita being dense again. First, don’t you want your girlfriend to be real with you? Second, why would she cry over Ena’s picture in last week’s episode if she wasn’t interested? Really, I don’t get how he can be so clueless. This is the same guy who doesn’t even know how to change his phone’s background picture. It almost seems like he wants his love to remain unrequited, so he can safely linger in the background. And yet, our protagonist can also be insightful at rare moments. At the start of this week’s episode, Eita gives Haruto a little wisdom: “But you’d better stay in touch with [Hazuki] regularly. If you go without saying anything for some time, it’ll get harder to message her on LINE.” He’s no doubt referring to his own lack of courage, but is it really that hard? Maybe. It’s just so gosh darn hard for me to relate, though. Eita and Mio’s romance is nothing like I’ve ever experienced. Granted, I’m not the Lord and Master of Romance. I’ve been in love and I’ve been loved, but I’m by no means an expert when it comes to matters that concern the heart. All I can do is speak from experience. I’ve always talked to my girlfriend morning, day, and night. Even before I ever got into a relationship with her, we would spend hours everyday together. Before she became my girlfriend, she was my best friend. That’s all I’ve ever known about love. What I see in Just Because!, however, is the direct opposite, so it’s mystifying. How can you love someone that you can’t even talk to?

It’s actually kind of funny when you go back and rewatch the first few episodes, because Eita and Mio actually spent more time together when she was still crushing on Haruto. In fact, they kept running into situations that would force them to be alone together, and yet, she was blissfully pining for another guy. They were a couple at the aquarium, and they were a couple at the shrine. But once Mio slowly started to develop feelings for Eita, they also slowly became strangers. Now that the thought of him and Ena being together is enough to drive Mio to tears, she suddenly can’t find the right words when she’s around him. Meanwhile, all Eita can do is study and jog. Study and jog. Study and jog. They hardly ever talk or see each other anymore, and when they do, it’s either awkward (like that one night on the bus) or disastrous (like last week’s convenient misunderstanding). And yet, these two are nevertheless in love. Her feelings for him are stronger than they’ve ever been (Haruto isn’t even in the picture anymore), and even though Ena is trying her very darndest to play spoiler, Eita hasn’t wavered one bit in his determination. How does a lack of communication nevertheless manage to nurture such strong feelings? Like I’ve said, it’s mind-boggling to me, but as they often say, love comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe this is a form of love that I just need to learn about.

There’s a moment in this week’s episode that perfectly captures Eita and Mio’s pristine and untouched romance. It’s a love that is still in its plastic wrap. It’s a love that is still sitting on the shelf in mint condition. Everyone wishes Mio luck on her exams, but she really only wants to hear from Eita. I mean, he’s her boy, after all. But as we already know, she can’t directly talk to him. Nope, it’s too awkward. Too embarrassing. She says she needs to pass her exams first, but that sounds like an excuse. You can easily settle things right now and get back to studying. But of course, Mio’s heart isn’t ready. Likewise, Eita is waiting for her response on LINE, but he can’t just come out and ask for one. He can’t just message her privately. His heart can only muster enough courage to sit back and wait until she responds to the rest of the group. They then both step outside into the cold winter air. From her balcony, she looks off into the distance towards the direction of his house. Similarly, he also stares off into the distance towards the direction of her house. They live too far away to see each other, but in a way, their hearts are still connected. They’re practically inseparable. They just can’t bridge that massive chasm between them. They’re like two stars in the night sky. I don’t know much about Altair and Vega, but I do know a bit about astronomy.

Eita and Mio are like two binary stars pulling on each other as they both orbit the galaxy. Eita wants to attend to Suizan because of Mio, and she wants to attend Joei because of him. But make no doubt about it, a massive gulf exists between binary stars. The widest binary stars in our galaxy are said to be as much as 1000 astronomical units apart (1 AU is about the same as Earth’s distance from the sun). Needless to say, most of these binary stars will likely never meet. It’s astounding to me that two objects so far apart can nevertheless exert such profound force on each other. It doesn’t seem intuitive to a layman, but that’s gravity for you. And in a way, that’s also love for you. For Eita and Mio, there’s this gap between them that they cannot bridge, and yet, they kinda are crossing it in their own way. When Eita had to move away back in middle school, they could not communicate for years. And yet, he still found his way back home just to find his heart inexplicably bound to her. And now, they’re both doing everything in their power to be together in the future, and yet, because they can’t talk to each other, they’re also doing everything in their power to keep themselves apart. Eita and Mio both swear to themselves that they’ll bare their true feelings after the exams. On the other hand, Just Because! would like you to believe that these two might just end up at different schools once it is all said and done. But in the end, we still won’t doubt that they love each other and will continue to do so. So there they stand on their respective balconies in the middle of the cold, winter night. They both have nothing but the warmth in their hearts to sustain their determination. They’re like stars shimmering in the depths of space, inexplicably pulling at each other despite being billions and billions of miles apart. It’s poetic even though it doesn’t seem very realistic.

And to tell the truth, it’s such a pity that Eita and Mio stopped spending so much time together. I know the story had to develop his relationship with Ena in order to make her feel like a credible threat in the love triangle, but honestly, I actually enjoyed seeing Eita and Mio together. Remember when the trains were running late that one episode, and Mio was in danger of missing one of her entrance exams? Eita then ran with all his might to not only find the girl, but cheer her up and help her study on the way to the testing center. What we saw in that episode epitomizes what I’ve been harping for years on Moe Sucks: love is an action. I don’t want to hear cheap words. I want protagonists to show not only how much they understand the person they love, but also the lengths to which they’ll go in order to prove their love. Eita wasn’t just content to sit back and spout platitudes on LINE. He got his ass out there and helped Mio from start to finish. That’s love, man. And I was hoping for more of that. When I watch anything about love, I want to see it in action. I wanted Mio to develop feelings for the guy not because he’s simply the designated protagonist but through his actions. And we almost got that. We saw a single flashback of him taking time out of his day to help her carry some heavy boxes back in middle school. And that was it.

Since then, Eita has spent so much time with Ena, it’s hard for me to see how he can end up with Mio. But the heart is often hard to understand. As I said at the start of this post, this is a sort of love I have never experienced, but I guess I don’t mind seeing it. Ena confesses again to Eita anyway and tells him that she’ll wait for his answer after he gets his exam results. Judging by her reaction at the end of this week’s episode, she must have won her photography competition. Maybe she’ll save her club, but I doubt she’ll hear what she wants to hear from Eita. Still, rejection is all a part of growing up, and we rarely end up with our first love. Mio and Eita both react positively to their exam results, and as a result, they could end up at different schools. But really, Eita still has his recommendation to Joei, doesn’t he? So correct me if I’m wrong, but how is this remotely a dilemma? When Mio finally confesses to him, she just has to tell him that she got into Joei as well. If he still has his recommendation, he can just say sayonara to Suizan. I’m assuming, of course, he hasn’t already declined Joei like a presumptuous idiot, but why would you go and do that before even talking things out with the girl you love? Oh right, binary stars and what not. Well then, carry on…

As for Haruto and Hazuki, they play rather bit roles in this week’s episode. They both seem to have gotten a lot of closure from last week’s episode. Hazuki resolves to continue playing the trumpet even in college. Haruto is determined to visit her even though she warns him that it’ll be too expensive for him to do so. Fight on, dude. I mean, I don’t see what you see in her, but no matter what, you gotta give it all your all. In any case, they both finally realize what’s going on between Eita and Mio, but they also both feel as though it’s too late for warn their friends. I still think they should’ve sent the message anyway. Eita and Mio could simply read it after the exams, but that would’ve been too convenient.

Phew. One week left, guys. I’d be lying if I said I’m don’t care whether or not Eita and Mio end up together. At the start of the show, I was rooting for Ena, but I don’t think he’s right for her. I think she could do better. I also think she’s strong enough to get over him easily. And yet, I still like these characters, so I’m hoping for a happy ending.

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One Reply to “Just Because! Ep. 11: The distance between them”

  1. I know Japan has a thing for idealized romance, but this is on a whole new level of stupid. This is still an idealized romance, but not an idealized romance between two teenagers. This is an idealized romance that puritan parents want teenagers, especially their children, to have.

    Seriously, the only thing that this anime convince me is that both Eita and Mio are in love in love or an idealized version of each other instead of each other. Because of this, I think they avoid each other not because of fear of rejection or the standard romance animu shenanigans, but to avoid getting to know the real version of each other. I mean as long as they don’t know the “real” thing, they can keep on loving the “ideal”.

    I’m 100% sure that I’m wrong here and the reason behind this farce is just going to be the standard romance animu shenanigans, though.

    100% agree on Ena deserves better. She also deserves a much better circle of friends. Eita’s circle of friends just plain sucks.

    It’s sad that Haruto and Hazuki are more of a plot device to facilitate the “budding” romance between Eita and Mio than an actual character or part of the story. Their romance keeps becoming more and more of an afterthought with each episode.

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