Continuing the review as from before~
It's pretty long so everything is under the cut.
Episode 5: Oshima Yuko's story part two
This is a continuation to Oshima Yuko's story. Previously, Yuko was faced with a dilemma whether or not she should participate in the Lacrosse competition or study in school. This episode brought a light-hearted atmosphere to this problem as the strength from companions and her mother allowed for Yuko to persevere and come through to a decision. Regardless of the decision, it was more apparently so that Yuko was able to firmly decide and stick on through as opposed to wavering in between or giving half-heartedness to both.
I believe, Yuko's situation is not foreign to most of us. It might not be Lacrosse for us but some other important priority. When we weigh personal interests, personal pursuits against the societal's expectations of an individual, sometimes we are faced with a dilemma. In the modern society, one could not do without certificates. When faced with a similar dilemma with Yuko, not everyone would be able to avoid what she did--waver around and unable to firmly decide--. This drama brings up problems from life and modern society and places it in a modern girls high school context. This episode's theme appears to be the theme of responsibility. One needs to weigh their responsibility, prioritize and take firm stand. A heart-warming moment could be when her friends and family stood by her and her decision which enabled her to have no regrets.
Episode 6: Maeda Atsuko's story part one
Maeda Atsuko's first episode of the drama started off with her in her flower shop. The whole episode was spent generally on the building up of Maeda Sensei's profile. The viewers learn through accounts and photos of how Maeda Sensei used to be, also leading the viewers to suspect something unusual happened during his career that caused various strains on his relationship with students and even her daughter.
Other things to take note of in this episode is that Kashiwagi Yuki conveniently dumped her letter from Maeda sensei into a bin only to have it found from Takahashi Minami who was the chairperson. Minami began to become aware of Yuki's actions and created a direction of care towards her.
Though the episode did not have many shots of Atsuko(apart from shots of 'her' when she was chibi-sized), Atsuko's character was prominently presented to the audience. She exudes a cheery and optimistic personality with flowers as company. The dark and solemm tone in Atsuko's speech after being confronted about her father seems to indicate even further that Maeda Sensei and her relationship are facing more than strains but a total breakdown of communication. She also claimed not to care about anything regarding her father, such disconnection and isolation when about her father perhaps portrays her as a cold-hearted daughter but a lonely one as well.
So far, her episode seems to play on the theme of familial relationships. Relationships are fragile things, even within families. Though the people within families are connected by blood, creating a sense of safety, it is still possible for family members to have relationship problems with one another. Such problems would compromise and cause the breakdown of communication between family and perhaps leading to the reduction of possible avenues for confiding into. The psychological impact of family relationship problems would not be one easily mediated by a third party, thereby prompting for constant effort from the parties involved. This episode seems to highlight to us the need to take a step forward to maintain a relationship and due to the lack of it, Maeda Sensei and Atsuko seem to be unable to return to the same side of the page.
Episode 7: Watanabe Mayu and Miyazawa Sae's story part one
The starting scene was pretty much shocking, exciting and amazing. Watanabe Mayu kissing Miyazawa Sae was a great puller for this episode. Their faces after the slight bump on the lips was pretty amusing but nonetheless entertaining. They opened their letters in this episode and both letters had different contents but seemed to be written in light of the same thing. Mayu and Sae are made out to be the best of friends in the previous episodes with both of them being the only ones who had their tables joined together in class. Other than that, Mayu sitting on Sae and the amazing amount of Purikura and their closeness to the extent that they would stay in the same room at night to kiss seem to flag them as super duper close friends. However, things broke down when Sae met with a near prince-charming encounter with a weird dude. Basically, Sae fell head over heels over him then heels over head over him within a few hours of their encounter probably. There are a few screenshots in question which illustrate Sae's subtle or not so subtle rejection of Mayu's good-will and friendliness. After Sae got around with her prince charming, she distanced herself from Mayu to the extent of almost ostracizing her. Mayu slowly felt that and she was handling it quite well till a message from Sae told her explicitly in a way that she is trying to distance herself from her. . Right after that message, Watanabe Mayu broke and cried and went on a tearing rampage (basically tearing mementos of her and Sae). Then she proceeded to her cute plan.
In my opinion, this episode brings up the rising trend of cliques or pairs of girls hanging out together so much that they are almost inseperable. However, when these people are seperated by either stroke of lady luck, a cupid's arrow or something, the journey is never smooth again. Decisions have to be made, whether emotionally sound or self-perceived correctness guides the decisions, they will still affect the relationships the person has. In Sae's case, she decided to distance herself from Mayu, perhaps giving in to societal views of women who are too close coupled with the fact that she liked this guy and that she was scared the guy would be distracted by Mayu. However, this is not a right nor wrong decision. It was up to Sae to decide but she chose a path which would hurt Mayu , she decided for Mayu that she should be hurt in that way, Sae is not exactly an angel. Mayu tried doing the same thing back but...
On a side note, I am sure that this episode is not exactly advocating homosexuality or lesbianism but in fact trying to work out a structure for healthy friendship management and the possible challenges faced when a close friend breaks off.
A screen shot of a typical text message to end close relations :(
Mayuyu on bed 3.3
I totally expected this in the middle of the episode... to me, with stereotypes abundant in society, this show seems to have picken and reinforced certain gender stereotypes.
Episode 8: Itano Tomomi's Story part two
Itano Tomomi's story continued from the last time where there was some kind of pervert and panty thief in the swimming pool. Itano revved up her gear and demonstrated her excellent pail throwing skill knocking out the thief and rescuing their panties or at least most of the panties were claimed. However, the catch at that point was why on earth was Itano so uptight about panties and furthermore who owned a pair of drenched large panties. Well... Itano owned the large panties, perhaps the cause of why she was uptight as well.
However, she got herself in more trouble than panties and the fear of being viewed by others to have ugly panties. Her friends in her clique reuqested to see her boyfriend whom is invisible and nonexistent. Itano then turned to her sister for help who as a great kind big sister rejected her in style. Itano donned on something close to Dear J style of clothes and headed for a club to find guys.
In my opinion, the theme for Itano's episode seems to be layered. It was about the self-perception of self-worth as well as the worth that one wishes to portray. On top of which within society lies and deceit is rampant and the corelations between this three items influence the way people choose to act. For Itano, she perceives her appearance as very important and almost a necessary asset which cannot be ruined. Her huge panties would get in the way of that, prompting her to insult even her panties in front of her friends. She was also carrying on the pretense of being a popular lady and one with many experiences with men. This pretense was probably conveniently picked up from her sister and she was using it to gather and keep friends. This is probably a sad fate of many lonely girls nowadays as they don fake guises to attract attention or even get their way into a clique.
Takahashi Minami's Story part one
Takahashi Minami's episode started off with her usual comedic humor and amusing antics and reactions. However, the mood of the episode suddenly changed when the scene of the story changed from the classroom to a hospital. It created tension and anxiety in the viewer. It was revealed that she was an adopted child and the short flashes of her mother's name and mother's image on a poster hastened the pace of the episode. Her short encounter with the people who adopted her was quite brief making for a quick breather. Her conversation/ clash with her real mother was not satisfactory as the 'mother' was pretty much emotionless and they were standing there talking only. Though distance between characters and conversation are important in dramas, for this clash with the mother there was not much tension possibly generated. What was generated more was probably empathy or pity for Minami.
For me, the most impressive and interesting part was when Minami asked her parents why they hid the fact that she was an adopted child of theirs. They refuted that they forgot because it was all too natural for her to be their child. I thought that was sweet and romanticized the family structure even for those with adopted children.
In my opinion, there are 2 main concerns this episode tackles. First is the issue of adopted children's search for their own parents and how they would deal with whatever reaction they receive from their biological parents. Second concern of this play would be whether women have to give up their maternalistic instincts or children so that they are able to attain success in this world. For a world that claims to be more equal, the sacrificies women make often appear to be grave and plentiful.
Kashiwagi Yuki's story part two
This episode continues from Kashiwagi Yuki's previous slitting mania and she is back in front of her table wanting to slit herself. Maeda Sensei contacted her and from there on, Yuki found a new direction or a new light. Her text conversations with her teacher allowed her to slowly open up to an individual and as an individual. Breaking out of a shell for any anti-social person is a big feat and would probably require lots of determination. Getting out of her shell led her to realize several things. For example, Kitahara Rie is a train otaku like herself which could have been a common ground for her to get a friend if she noticed. For Yuki, she finds it hard to get friends and to approach people but Maeda Sensei pushes her further by leading her on with words of advice and for her to take courage and take a small step. She does that in this episode and we see a nice conclusion to her suicidal tendencies but not a conclusion to her pressure and courage problems yet.
For Yuki's story her theme was suicide and not advocating suicide either. Her theme is courage (YUUKI) to move forward and stand up against any obstacle. Also for her given context, she also has to challenge power of authority (her mother) and withstand the pressure. Her refusal to stand against that pressure and her lack of courage in the face of pressure from her mother caused her sucidal tendencies to manifest and propagate. However, the story of hers is not all doom and gloom as she finds an alternative to suicide which is opening up. Yuki's letter from Maeda Sensei is not really a single letter at all but a whole series of messages and replies from him. All of that effort from the sensei's part kept Yuki going and it kept her alive.