This episode, unlike the others, immediately opens with the opening song, which I feel is very indicative of how we’re now digging deep into the story and characters, and for this particular episode, a hook at the beginning was no longer worth splitting up the action with an OP. I realize I’ve never commented on it until now, so I may as well mention that it’s very unique, beautiful, and as the story has been unfolding I’ve started to pay greater attention to its details.
The Kiznaivers are sitting in a restaurant, and Nico is crying. They did manage to find Ruru’s house, and spoke with her still-grieving parents, who explained that Ruru was died from kidney disease. They express anger at Honoka, who was Ruru’s only friend, and pushed her away during the final period before her death. Ruru was forced to finish the last chapter of the manga by herself. Nico defended Honoka, asking whether friends need to spend all their time together, and declaring that Honoka wasn’t mean. Unsurprisingly, Ruru’s mother gets very angry at her insensitivity, insisting that they get out.
I have mixed feelings about this incident. It was a very tactless thing to say to people who were obviously struggling, and I don’t totally agree with it. Of course people have a right to break off friendships if they want, but they have to understand that ending friendships can cause real, serious harm. At the same time, I was a little worried about the mental state of people who still have their house covered with their daughter’s pictures two years after her death, so maybe it was something they needed to hear.
Katsuhira points out that even if she was wrong, she was hurting too. It makes me happy to see Katsuhira become more sensitive and understanding of others. Yuta, reading the manga, notes that the final chapter, which Honoka didn’t help with, is lacking in emotion, and questions whether Honoka knew Ruru was going to die.
We see a flashback of when Honoka and Ruru began their friendship. Ruru, noticing that both of them were always alone, initiated a conversation in which they discovered that Honoka was good at writing stories, although with poor quality art, while Ruru was better at drawing, though with cliched storylines. They band together to write a manga, finding that their strengths compensate for their weaknesses.
They shared a strong, close friendship. One day, Ruru fakes a seizure after Honoka complains that the portrayal of one in their story isn’t realistic, and then suggests they add a sex scene. Honoka refuses, and Ruru makes an advance on her before pretending it was all a joke. I don’t believe her, and I don’t think anyone does, including Honoka, who later announced that she no longer wanted to write the story. Ruru did’t protest, instead goading Honoka by proclaiming that the student in the story writes a letter that curses the teacher she was in love with so that she’ll love only her forever.
The Kiznaivers are still feeling Honoka’s pain. Katsuhira suggests what no one else considered: that they just ask Honoka about her feelings and past. When Nico protests that they can’t ask her those things because they aren’t friends, Tenga says that they should all try to be her friends again. I find it interesting and telling that Nico respects Honoka’s decision to reject their friendship, and I love how Tenga, who pretends to be tough, is now the most enthusiastic about befriending her. Hisomu, ever the voice of reason, points out that since none of them have any friends, none of them know how to make friends. Tenga declares that they’re all friends now, and although not all of them agree immediately, they eventually do. Later, Chidori notes that Katsuhira has changed a lot, and when he asks if she finds it weird, she says he’s becoming wonderful.
It turns out that Sonozaki was behind the movie deal all along, but we already knew, didn’t we? After cancelling the movie deal on the phone, she remembers how Katsuhira had expressed his disappointment. She looks at a picture of her and Katsuhira with a bunch of other children, and turns it down. I love this scene. It’s Sonozaki’s only appearance in an episode that is almost entirely focused on the relationships of the other Kiznaivers, and I feel like the darkness around her highlights her isolation, especially as she looks back at a time when she probably had a Kiznaiver team of her own.
The Kiznaivers gather outside Honoka’s apartment and call her. When she doesn’t pick up, they yell in unison until she calls them. They ask her to be their friend, but Nico ruins it by asking all her questions all at once. Honoka hangs up, and it starts raining. I often don’t give much notice to the soundtracks of anime, but the one that plays in the montage after this scene is poignant and hard to miss.
Honoka leaves her home, and finds Yuta reading her manga in the rain. He discovers that she never read the final chapter, and insists she read it. As she flips through it, Yuta asks why she claimed to have killed Ruru, and she explains that she killed her in a sense by cutting her out of her life. She ended their friendship before it could become a romantic relationship because she knew it would hurt so much more if they fell in love.
The rest of the Kiznaivers try lighting the fireworks they had brought, but of course, because it’s raining, they don’t last very long. Honoka and Yuta arrive, and she says that instead of fireworks, and they should go swimming. Chidori protests that it’s dangerous, but Yuta fearlessly runs towards the ocean and throws himself in. They all end up joining him in the water, except for Honoka, who sits on shore and reads the final chapter of the manga. It turns out that instead of cursing her, the dying girl in the story says, “If remembering me becomes too much for you to bear, you can forget me whenever you like.”
The Kiznaivers feel Honoka’s pain, and they all come running back, covered in seaweed. Honoka laughs very genuinely, and declares that they can’t be friends after all, because they’re already Kiznaivers, and that makes them all closer than friends, or even lovers. Nico suggests they all call each other by their given names, but when Yuta protests, Nico amends it to everyone except Yuta, Tenga, and Hisomu. Coincidentally, that’s exactly the pattern I’ve been using in these blog posts (I try to go by whichever name is used the most, though this can be confusing at first).
Honoka has a flashback of when Ruru came up with the name Charles de Macking, and, probably referring to the line in the story where a character says “I love your smile,” she says, “Me too.”
I must admit, this is my favorite episode so far. After episodes and episodes of trying, we finally see Honoka come to terms that being a Kiznaiver means that she can’t escape friendship. She’s a great character, and the conclusion of her character arc was really heart-warming. That being said, I feel sad that we’ll never really understand Ruru, or what exactly she was thinking. We don’t even know if the flashback where Ruru almost jumps off the bridge happens before or after Honoka breaks off their friendship. I suppose that adds a hint of realism, as it’s sometimes impossible to find out exactly what people were thinking once they’re gone.
I feel like the writers (Mari Okada, by the way, if you haven’t heard) missed out a little by taking this route rather than one in which Honoka may have actually murdered someone. I can understand why they didn’t: Honoka was a protagonist, and such a tale would have been dark and difficult to handle. As much as I liked the route they did take, it was rather predictable. I kind of wish that they had been more adventurous, but I respect their decision.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Yuta and Honoka. I fear we may not see much more development for them, but what we saw in this episode alone was beautiful. At last, all the characters have let their guard down, and I am very pleased that Nico now has the friendship she longed for. Katsuhira is subtly changing, and it’s actually more interesting to see his interactions develop than I thought it would be.
As much as I liked this episode, I feel like it’s impossible for the Kiznaiver experiment to go so well for much longer. Now that one of the major backstories is out of the way, I assume we’ll be moving on to Sonozki and Katsuhira’s backstory. I want to start seeing the obvious flaws in the Kiznaiver experiment explored (now that the Kiznivers all care about each other, they are very vulnerable to torture). I feel like this was kind of foreshadowed by the many ominous gomorins in the background of this episode, including one in the restaurant at the beginning (they didn’t make it into any of my screenshots, of course). There’s also much misfortune implied in the title of the next episode, “Happy Times Don’t Tend to Last Very Long.” I predict that it will bring Sonozaki back into the picture, and maybe we’ll find out the true intentions of the Kizuna Committee at last.