Archive for March 30th, 2008

Shigofumi: “I hate you!” “Well, I hate you MORE!”

“No, I hate YOU more!”
“No, I hate YOU even more!”
“I hate you times infinity!”
“I hate you times infinity PLUS ONE!”

Repeat ad nauseum. Ah, childhood, those long-gone halcyon days…

The conclusion to Shigofumi operated much the same as the other Shigofumi delivery episodes, strangely enough, except this time the focus was Mikawa Fumika and the trauma of a media circus. The result of the trial is left somewhat open-ended, although I presume from the shot of Kirameki in a prison visiting room, that the jury found him quite guilty of child abuse. But what happens to Kirameki isn’t the main point, however; it’s the very tangible tension between Fumi and Mika.

Fumi (the original personality) probably didn’t think about the media storm that would come from her suing her father for child abuse, and, as such, was not prepared for the flurry of reporters swamping houses and the rumor mill grinding away at full capacity at school. It’s obvious mere minutes into the episode that she can’t stand all this attention on her, and it is not long that she progresses close to the breaking point. I would argue that she has it in her mind to punish herself (and not Mika) for the incident three years ago,  and the current aftermath. It’s probably a guilt complex grafted onto her via her father’s abuse–since even her beloved father despises her, the fault must therefore lie with her, and so she is to blame for everything. However, no matter how much she tries, she is ever cognizant of the fact that she is being watched at every turn, and this slowly begins to grate down her defenses.

Eventually, she, of course, cracks under the pressure, and tries to take her own life. Then Mika steps in, and that whole heated exchange takes place. Fumi wants to shoulder the blame by herself, and Mika thinks that she is the one who should be punished. It’s an interesting war between dual personalities who happen not to occupy the same body at the moment  And yet, despite the difference in ability to handle the pressures of living, the two of them realize, somewhat belatedly, that they really aren’t that different at all. Rather than being two competing personalities, they are instead two halves of a complete person–Fumi having created Mika to bear the pain. They both have different maturity levels, and Fumi has missed out on three years of maturing, yet, in the end, as they come to understand while telling the other what they wanted to do in life, they aren’t that different at all. Hence the cathartic breakdown in both of them, each telling the other that they hate them.

They don’t, of course, hate each other–that’s merely the spoken manifestation of their realization. It doesn’t matter who they are, whether or not they are together, or whether they have gone from two into one (they clearly don’t, according to the ED sequence)–it’s now solely about how they, having realized that they can’t necessarily depend on one another, must instead strike out on their own. That, I think, is the true lesson Fumi learns–she isn’t necessarily to blame for the events in her life, and neither is MIka. WIth that, she can finally find the strength to change.

Or so one presumes. I’d like to see a And Three Years Later… OVA episode where we find out what’s gone on since the conclusion of the series, but, alas, that will probably not happen. Unless one happens to be the sort who writes fanfiction…

Thoughts on the series as a whole: Having not seen Boogiepop Phantom or Kino’s Journey, I don’t know how this series stacks up against those two behemoths, but I can safely say that, as a series, it certainly stands out on its own merits apart from those two series. Which is the way it should be, as I’m sure, despite the similarities in comcept between the three, they each approach the concept with a different theme or idea in mind, and develop things in a different manner.

The series was certainly well-directed and well-written, if not consistently spectacularly so. I think the best episodes were, ironically, the ones that didn’t focus on the overall plot relating to Fumika at all (exceptions being the two Kirameki episodes, the one where he took center stage, and the one where we find out the horrors of his abuse), as those episodes were more devoted to telling an episodic story, and as such had tighter scripting and much more dramatic impact. That’s not to say the plot wasn’t interesting (multiple personalities always are interesting, anyway), but I felt that the series shined on these episodes in particular. I can honestly say I quite enjoyed watching the series, and hopefully, if you’re reading this, it means you either a) enjoyed it too or b) stuck with it to the bitter end, and I doubt (b) people will be much interested in reading an entry about the series anyway. Hopefully those in (a) liked it as much as I did.

true tears: The Growth of Noe

Okay, so first off, I have to fanboy it up here: Noe ;_______________________________________________________________;

Good, now that’s off my chest. All those underscores certainly make me feel better!

Although, as a Noe fan, it is extremely tragic to witness the scene in the bus stop, I can’t help but feel that that was the plan all along. Taken one way, true tears is the story of Shin’ichiro’s quest to be with Hiromi. Alternatively, or perhaps concurrently, true tears is about a radical sea change in the personality of Noe. At the beginning of the series, if I remember correctly (it was thirteen weeks ago) Noe was treated as an eccentric oddball at school. No one was really friends with her, no one spent time with her, and there were rumors circulating that those when got involved with her were cursed. Not exactly very pleasant things to say about someone.

She latches on to Shin’ichiro at the very beginning, and that would be where the series starts and the drama begins. Shin’ichiro obviously cares for Noe in a way that is more than friends yet less than lovers (he made that clear enough when he cried as she left), and she latches onto this, for solace from her grief (which I talked about last time) fades away, since Shin’ichiro is actually taking time out of his life to be with her. An attachment forms, and she falls in love, opening a new depth of emotion that she hasn’t felt since her grandmother died.

By the time that we reach the end of the series, it’s clear that Noe is no longer the Noe of the start of the series. She is instead a much stronger, much more independent Noe. As she faces the loss of another loved one in her life (Shin’ichiro) she leaps off the tree, unable to live with the grief. And yet, when she comes to, it’s almost as if she’s had a revelation while knocked unconscious. Maybe there was some head trauma in the fall, but it’s much more likely that, symbolically at least, the fall from the tree signified Noe’s departure from her previous self-generated bindings. She no longer feels obligated to Shin’ichiro. She’s perfectly willing to accept that he loves Hiromi more than he does her.

Yet still, the final scene (the one with Reflectia playing) shows us another part of her growth: in abandoning the very bindings which she imposed upon herself upon the loss of her grandmother and the imminent loss of Shin’ichiro, she’s regained back something much more valuable: her tears. Or, rather, her emotions, which have slowly been returning to her over the course of the series. No longer is she  artificially trying to distance herself from the situation at hand. Instead, she feels sorrow, pain, joy, and other, much more complex emotions. She is now much more of a person than she was. And that, I think, is where Noe fans, such as myself, should take solace in. She may have “lost” to Hiromi, yet, to her, it no longer matters whether or not she has Shin’ichiro. She is now a perfectly capable, perfectly independent human now, able to make friends. It is this growth, I think, that is much more integral to the series than whether or not <your favorite girl> will end up with Shin’ichiro. The series is even named “true tears”, and, as tears are important to Noe, she is the second protagonist (after Shin’ichiro, who only wants to wipe away Hiromi’s tears).

So, therefore, don’t be sad for Noe “losing”. Instead, be happy for her growth as a human. She may have cried at the end, but that is not, in this case, a bad thing. It is, in fact, a very moe thing. And we all know that Noe is very moe indeed.


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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March 2008