In last week’s episode, when Kondo showed Akira some kindness, the rain finally let up and allowed the sun to come out. More importantly, the episode cut to a shot of wet flower petals. I asked you guys to use your imagination, because we need not be crass. In this week’s episode, Akira tests her previously injured foot in an attempt to return a customer’s forgotten phone. Although she is successful, her foot ends up inflamed. Kondo is worried that the girl might have gotten seriously injured, so he interrupts his day to take her to a nearby clinic. In doing so, he ends up supporting her body against his. And what do we see? A shot of a bee flying up to a flower. Like it was last week, the imagery here is no accident. This is a story about Akira’s blossoming sexuality; she’s coming into her own, and ironically, what it took was for her to lose her spot on the track team.
Again, there seems to be a concerted effort from the anime to divide Akira’s world in two. We see a sky bisected by a net. We see a train station bisected by a pole. We see a train on the ground, and this is contrasted with a plane soaring way up into the sky. The plane is free; it can fly anywhere. The train can only follow its tracks. We see a bunch of schoolgirls leave the train together. They’re just hanging out, talking about food. Akira is by herself behind them, lost in her thoughts. She’s not like them. She feels differently. After all, she’s in love with a man. When we see later Akira take off running after a customer, it’s almost as if she’s soaring through the same sky where we had earlier seen the plane. When her injury flares up, she falls down as if she has been grounded. But lest we forget, she and Kondo are also from two different worlds. Again, the scene is bisected. She wants to leave her world and join his, i.e. transition from youth to adulthood. When he drops by her neighborhood near the end of the episode, he can’t understand why she chooses to work at his diner:
Kondo: “You really do live in a bustling area. You probably didn’t need to go all the way to where Garden is to find a part-time job.”
Akira: “There’s nothing here.”
Kondo: “What? This area has more than anywhere else!”
Akira: “I like you, Mr. Kondo.”
In other words, her world doesn’t have him. She goes to his world to be with him. She doesn’t want to be a kid anymore. When she was a kid, she was also a track star. But she feels resigned to the idea that this dream is dead, and she wants to bury her youth along with it. She doesn’t want Kondo to pay her mother a visit. She doesn’t want him to see her as a kid.
Flowers are a recurring motif. Again, they represent her blossoming sexuality. Whenever she looks at Kondo, her heart goes aflutter, and the shoujo sparkles that suddenly light up the screen seem almost flower-esque, don’t they? And when she drops by the diner later that night and observes Kondo in action, the lights and their colors resemble a field of flowers in an abstract sort of way. At the clinic, when her manager assumes that that Akira and Takeshi are a couple, her feelings explode at him, and we literally see flowers come flying out of the doctor’s office.
Even later that night, the girl can’t help but fantasize. She thinks back to when their bodies touched. Her hand rests on her upper back at first, then it slides itself down slightly past her waist. But of course, he never went down that far. Naturally, there are flowers on her shorts as well. The girl is now indulging in her fantasies; she blushes and grips her pillow tightly. Again, we need not be crass because the anime isn’t either. We know what is happening here. We know what this moment is supposed to represent in the young girl’s development. All of a sudden, the phone rings and the caller is none other than Kondo. Even though there’s no possible way he could see her, Akira nevertheless pulls down her shirt as if to cover up her nakedness (she’s not naked). This is similar to what had occurred at the clinic. Akira was afraid to remove her sock around her manager. The doctor assumed that she is ashamed of her scar, but she said otherwise: “No, I wasn’t really hiding her scar.” I believe she was hiding her naked skin. When he finally gets to see her injured foot later, it’s all dolled up. She has painted her toenails pink. She laughs at his lack of knowledge regarding pedicures, but I also feel that she can now feel more comfortable around him because a certain boundary has been breached.
Despite everything I’ve said above, I still do not wish to see these two become a couple. I’m glad that the anime does not shy away from exploring the development of Akira’s sexual awareness, but I still do not wish for him to reciprocate her feelings for obvious reasons. She’s still just a child no matter how she sees herself in comparison to her peers. When she suddenly confesses to him at the end of the episode, Kondo is not as clueless as he lets on. He pretends to play dumb: “Really? Thanks! I totally thought you hated me, Tachibana.” But the exaggerated fashion in which he calls out for a manager shows that he’s flustered. He can’t be inappropriate with her, but he doesn’t have the heart to outright reject her either. Kondo does not exactly have a way with words, so this is the best he can do. I don’t know where the story will go from here, but as Akira continues to grapple with her maturation and awkward feelings, I hope Kondo can remain the responsible adult.
Misc notes & observations:
— Not too much this week. I actually incorporated most of my notes into the main body above.
— I’m not fond of Takeshi. Following Akira all the way to the diner and applying for the part-time job is a bit much. Then again, I’m a guy who likes to set strict boundaries.
— Yui is apparently a fan, though.
— What makes Akira’s heart flutter? The first thing that comes to her mind is a flower.
— I wonder if that’ll come out of his paycheck. He broke a lot of dishes. Foreshadowing for his broken heart later in the story? I kid, I kid. Maybe not. Either way, someone’s going to pay.
— Man, Kondo’s car is a mess. I still don’t know what Akira sees in him, and I probably never will.