Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
As we learned why Ecchan has fallen for Hanabi, it becomes clear that Hanabi’s feelings for Mugi are evolving past their original agreement.
Topic 1: You Saved Me (Ecchan and Hanabi)
It all started with Hanabi saving Ecchan from a groper and them becoming friends. Her one-time holding hands and the feelings just grew from there. She thought maybe relationships weren’t her thing, partly because she hated boys, but then Hanabi, being close to her, having an intimate moment, it made her realize so much.
However, even with her knowing there isn’t something real between Hanabi and Mugi, Hanabi doesn’t feel for her like she does for her. So she gets rejected. Leaving Ecchan to deal with the idea that Hanabi finds her revolting, though she doesn’t, and Hanabi taking note of the weight there is in being the object of someone’s affections.
I was really fearful when we saw Ecchan kiss Hanabi in the last episode that is was done purely out of fan service and just for the sake of tantalization. Perhaps because most anime, when it comes to sexual or very intimate situations, that’s how things are handled. There isn’t the passion or awkwardness of moments like that. It usually leans more so toward it seeming meant to cater to a hetero male audience and to keep them from slipping away.
However, I loved how Ecchan’s crush on Hanabi was handled, especially in relation to Noriko. With Noriko’s crush on Mugi, it’s all very childish and rooted in her own fantasies. With Ecchan though, with her being questioning or queer, and knowing the risks involved with making a move, there is beauty and devastation in her crush. Beauty in that she was allowed to get this close and have a genuine friendship with someone she cares about yet devastation because, like with Mugi and Hanabi, she doesn’t have what the other wants to have that friendship become something more. Which, if it wasn’t for A Dog’s Purpose draining my tear ducts, I would have been getting teary eyed over.
Topic 2: I’ve [Never] Been In Love Before (Mugi and Hanabi)
For Hanabi, her first everything is pretty much Mugi it seems. Her first kiss has been him, the first man she has been intimate with, has touched the penis of, and while they haven’t had sex, you can tell she would love for him to be her first. With Mugi though, there was Mei before Hanabi and maybe even Akane. She was someone older who he fell for hard yet, even with her liking him as well, they kept things casual. Making it seem like how Hanabi is starting to be unable to keep her end of this fake relationship, it seems there was a time Mugi had an issue sticking to an agreement his heart wanted to break.
While it seemed clear Hanabi would fall for Mugi, predicting that doesn’t make this any harder to watch. For while you watch her go to him (Mugi) for comfort and affection, you have to notice she is speaking about Kanai less and less. Making it seem she has moved on from this crush of infatuation. Perhaps realizing after hearing the way those two girls were speaking in the last episode and what happened with Ecchan, that she was perhaps misinterpreting her feelings.
To put it another way, being that Hanabi has never been in a relationship before, she perhaps saw Kanai as everything she expected a boyfriend to be like. Hence why her feelings developed. Yet with what happened with Ecchan, and what is happening with Mugi, she is beginning to realize there is a difference between being intimate and close with a friend and being intimate and close with someone you have real feelings for. So with Kanai, it’s like that relationship of brother and sister has set the standard for what she expects out of guys and with Mugi meeting the standard, surpassing it, and modifying it, it leads her to question if her feelings for Kanai were fully understood.
Switching to Mugi, I found Mei to be quite interesting. Perhaps the reason being, the way Mei is presented to us is the way it seems Hanabi is looking at Mugi right now. Making for another situation with this show where it seems like it is repeating itself yet, it somehow keeps things fresh and despite retelling a story we just saw, it continues to bring out emotions out of you.
Topic 3: Love Makes The Eyes Cloudy and Leads The Mind To Believe What It Wants To (Mugi and Hanabi)
As noted, Hanabi goes to Mugi’s for affection and what begins with her just wanting to cuddle and maybe just sleep together leads to a hand job. Afterwards, they go to a diner, in the middle of the night, and they see Akane with a boy who she used to tutor like Mugi. Now, it is assumed this boy is older but, no matter how you look at it, between how handsy this boy is and how Akane verbalizes that moment is to be a secret, you know something is up.
What makes things worse though is Hanabi can’t let it go and Mugi is feigning ignorance. Leading to Hanabi confronting Akane and she saying that boy is just a friend and for them to talk in detail later. Yet, Hanabi notes, Akane is wearing the same outfit from the day before and with that, it is hinted that this woman is lying.
What is so compelling about this show to me is that as the women of the show continue to be developed, neither Mugi nor Kanai are becoming like Tomoya in Clannad or like Yuuji in the various Grisaia no adaptations. They aren’t trying to fix these girls issues with their time and attention and the girls themselves aren’t revealing some melodramatic sob stories. For the most part, outside of Noriko, everything with this show feels rooted in some kind of reality. One in which love is something to look for, experience, and try to understand. Which, from both the position of an outsider and insider, things will look and be pretty awkward. But what this show does that a lot don’t, is this awkwardness is talked about between two parties.
Take Hanabi’s feelings in regards to her coming to want more from Mugi. She doesn’t hold onto this until nearly the end of the season. No. It seems as the feelings are coming she converses with Mugi about them. Then when it comes to her not feeling right about what Akane may or may not be doing, she confronts her. Same goes for Ecchan. Her long-simmering crush is acted on and while we, admittedly, don’t get as much time as that situation perhaps deserves, you have to appreciate that these teens and young adults aren’t written to be passive and do the childish mess we saw in the last episode of Fuuka.