Anime  

Yofukashi no Uta – 04

With any sort of criticism, anime or otherwise, it’s always an interesting conundrum.  How does one distinguish something objectively “good” from something that’s just a good fit?  Of course all criticism is ultimately subjective, and that only makes this harder.  With a show like Yofukashi no Uta, which just speaks a language I fundamentally understand (and I don’t mean Japanese), separating objectivity and subjectivity can be extremely difficult.  I know I like it – do I need to analyze any deeper than that?

That said, I’m pretty sure this show is just good.

Akira has been a really nice addition to the chemistry here, essentially turning a duet into a trio.  She doesn’t really fit any better than Kou does.  Her family seems to as remote as presence in her life as his family is in his.  The difference is, she tries to fit in –  to do what’s expected.  Whereas Kou has basically abdicated societal responsibilities and tried to live as he pleases.  It’s worth noting that the world of the night has always been a much friendlier place for such people.  Less judgmental, with fewer expectations.  It’s a world of outcasts and oddballs, really.  The draw is obvious – but that path often leads to a bad end (and that’s where stories like this get complicated).

As for Kou, he’s pretty innocent even for a middle schooler.  Smart but sheltered.  After all, he had to ask Nazuna what a friend was, and had no real conception of what a fight was and how to resolve it.  As such, it’s not surprising his understanding of relationships is so childlike.  If you kiss someone you must love them, right?  Because that’s what people in love do.  Knowing the difference between love and lust can be a challenge for any teenager – and a lot of adults too.  For someone just barely a teenager and with so little romantic context, it’s way over their head.

In a vacuum, Nazuna’s explanation of why Kou hasn’t turned makes sense.  Infatuation isn’t love, this is a fact.  But I’m not sure things are so simple.  In the first place, I think Naz is likely a very good bullshitter.  Is what she says to Kou about this also being her first kiss true?  Maybe – I’m skeptical, but she might be telling the truth.  More importantly, though, my sense is that she’s lying about the whole “if you’re in love you’ll turn into a vampire” thing  – stringing Kou along.  She has many possible motives to do so – some sinister, and some more innocent.  But at this point I think it’s more logical to guess she’s lying than that she’s telling the truth.

Why does Kou invite Akira along, especially after the tension her presence caused last episode?  An interesting question.  Kou likes her, clearly, though I don’t believe romantically.  I think he likes the idea that he had a friend all along and didn’t know it.  I also think, in the manner of young boys who’ve discovered something cool, he wants to share his cool new life with someone.  He can’t tell his parents obviously (as if he would), and he has no other friends (or siblings it seems), so who else is he going to share it with?  In the end he also does it because he trusts Akira – which is a very important point.

Akira is pretty understanding, it must be said, given that most people would seriously freak out at the things she’s seeing.   Hanging out at Nazuna’s pad playing games is a very typical rebel teen thing to do, but then there’s the whole vampire thing – and the vampire feeding off the boy she likes right in front of her.  The feckless Kou playing the dating sim exactly as he would in real-life is very in-character – his oddness is so essential to who he is that he can’t jettison it even to fit in (and get laid) virtually.  Just as being an introvert doesn’t mean you always want to be alone, being asexual doesn’t mean you’re immune to lust.  It just means lust isn’t what drives the important decisions in your life.

It’s certainly no coincidence that Akira gets the first decent sleep she’s had in ages lying next to Kou and Nazuna (as uncomfortable as this makes her at first).  Does this mean, as Naz states, that she was satisfied with her day?  Or was being close to Kou what finally allowed her to relax and give in to her exhaustion?  It’s not so straightforward as to say her way of living is wrong and Kou’s is right – or vice-versa.  Rather, it’s a question of identity – discovering who we are, and finding a way to be comfortable with that.  And for most of us, there’s no easy and painless path to follow on that journey.

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