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True Tears 8-9: As the World Turns

You go girl! (Runs away from army of Noe fans with torches)

This show continues to delight in the quality of its character interaction and writing, scored to some of the most appropriate BGM I’ve heard in romance anime in a while. But oh, the twists…

I’m still amazed that they captured both the sadness and resignation so well in her face.

I am going to go out on a limb here and rejoice in the outcome of episode 9–namely, in the impending Hiromi x Shin pairing. For Shin and Noe both, it is a victory for emotional honesty, in which they realize just where their real feelings are and don’t, as some of the characters in Kimikiss are doing, drag it out to the point where irreparable damage is almost certain. I think there is a place for the happy, but fleeting, love affair that episode 8 portrayed so beautifully between Shin and Noe, and I’m also heartened to see that Noe, by the end of episode 9, seems to grasp this. (Quite frankly, the maturity of these characters compared to some of the ones in Kimikiss is very refreshing. Nobuse’s reaction to losing Aiko is also notable.) By now of course all the Noe fans among this readership are gnashing their teeth–but she’s so cute and Hiromi is a bitch!–to which I say, well, that’s all true. But like Mao, I see Hiromi as redeemable, and honestly less culpable than her, who is simply prone to lying outright and continuing to lie after the damage is clearly obvious.

You know, Shin-chan, it’s not such a great idea to compare yourself to a chicken

One of the strands that wasn’t emphasized by most reviewers of this show wass the role of creativity and artistic imagination. It’s not as showy or as central as it was for ef-a tale of memories, to be sure. It comes in brief sections portraying Shin’s imaginary scenarios, rich with found metaphors and analogies, and increasingly in the picture book about Raigomaru that he’s illustrating for Noe. I admit the roman a clef aspects of the picture book are starting to just get a tad obvious, which Noe, of course, discovers in due time. (She really is what she claims to be, a pretty good judge of people.) Being a literary person, I always appreciate it when anime does symbolism and metaphor right, and certainly by this point, the strange motifs of chickens has redeemed itself from ridiculousness. It helps set the show apart from simply being just another high school soap, albeit a quiet and better-than-average one.

You know, I’d warm my hands too if I was unhurt but still that cold

Some signs of rush in the plotting of episode 9 are apparent. The motorcycle accident that opens it was strangely underplayed, primarily used to have all the principal characters meet (that Hiromi and Jun are unhurt stretches plausibility), and using it as the sole catalyst for Shin’s mother’s change of heart is a bit sudden. We discover what I suspected, of course–Shin and Hiromi are not in fact half-siblings–and the way the explanation for Hiromi’s mistreatment all these years is clumsily put off for future episodes honestly doesn’t work for me. (It really needed to have started to be answered the moment we know the truth of her parentage. You don’t create emotionally consequential scenes built on that lie only to dismiss it abruptly.)

I mustn’t run away?

So what are these “true tears”? Most bloggers are predicting some kind of sad ending, and I’m inclined to agree. The subtext of Noe’s life is that she has never learned to properly grieve–for her grandmother, or even for Raigomaru. Given that there are still a good number of episodes left, Noe is probably going to have to go through some sort of grief process until, at last, the tears she sheds are genuine. Which is, at the same time, a kind of “happy” ending in that it is the first step for her to move on, to grow as a human being. And, perhaps, a prompt for the other characters to learn empathy. I am, by nature, a hopeful person; it might very well be a non-violent Nice Boat, too. But I’m a sucker for good redemptive endings. We’ll see.

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