Anime Rewatch 2021: Kimi ga Nozomu Eien 5-7

Episode 5 probably contains the biggest “ask” I’ve ever seen an anime make. As I mentioned before, episodes 1-2 are devoted to convincing the viewer to back Takayuki and Haruka together. Episodes 3-4 are then devoted to turning the viewer against Takayuki and Mitsuki, by portraying their relationship in the harshest possible light, seemingly leaving Haruka behind in a coma without giving her the slightest thought. And now comes episode 5, which is devoted to convincing the viewer to completely flip their opinion on Takayuki and Mitsuki yet again, by showing the true extent of the pain and heartache they experienced during the 3-year gap. Far from having casually left Haruka behind, they’ve had to endure countless hardships while dealing with the aftermath of the accident.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another show ask the viewer to change their opinion on all of the main characters so many times, to such extremes, over such a small batch of episodes. Certainly I’ve seen a number of people say they were never able to make that final switch, to feel sympathy for Mitsuki after being led to look down on her for so long. Seeing Takayuki and Mitsuki suffering in this episode is a vital step in making these characters sympathetic, so a lot of this could have been avoided by showing these events in chronological order, but the show (and the game, for the most part) chose to present the story in this fashion specifically to see if people were willing to follow along such a difficult journey. It’s a big ask, that’s all I’m saying.

Virtually all of episode 5 is completely anime-original – the game has a few flashbacks set during the 3-year gap, but not to this level of detail. I think I’ve made it clear that the anime gives itself the freedom to rearrange much of the game’s events, and that extends to how the anime interprets the events of this episode. For instance, the date at the aquarium where Takayuki buys the mugs for Mitsuki does exist in the game, but it takes place after they started officially dating, while the anime sets it before.

The moment when Haruka’s parents tell Takayuki not to visit Haruka anymore is a powerful one, and probably deserves a little discussion. What’s important to understand is that once a coma patient reaches the 1-year-mark, like Haruka has by this point, she is extremely unlikely to ever reawaken. So when Haruka’s parents tell Takayuki not to visit anymore, they are essentially telling him to consider Haruka dead from this point on. As her family, they will continue to watch over her and hope for her recovery, but for someone like Takayuki who has really only known her for a little over a month, it’s foolish for him to continue dedicating so much of his life to her when the chances of her waking up are essentially none. I think it’s important to judge both Takayuki’s and Mitsuki’s later actions – both later that night and over the next few years – based on the knowledge that they have been told that Haruka is basically dead. Mitsuki in particular must be deeply concerned for Takayuki’s state of mind, having just seen him literally losing his grip on reality earlier that night by trying to drag Haruka away, then being told that Haruka is essentially gone forever, and it’s seeing Takayuki in that state of mind that finally pushes Mitsuki to cross the line.

The anime is definitely directed to be more soap opera-ish, with more melodramatic flourishes, while the game tends to be a little (just a little) more down-to-earth and realistic, and we can see that come out in full force in this anime-original episode. The ending to this episode, with Akane literally walking in on Mitsuki completely naked in Takayuki’s bed, is definitely more melodramatic than how the game would have portrayed it (the game doesn’t actually portray this moment). The official artbook for the anime includes commentary on every episode from director Tetsuya Watanabe, and for this episode he actually takes pains to make clear that the events of this episode only apply to the anime, and that the viewer should not take this as an indication that the same events happened in the game.

After a whirlwind 5 episodes, the show then slows down heavily upon its return to the present-day to more thoroughly explore the new status quo established in episode 4. While all of the main characters’ actions have been reasonably understandable up to this point (at least once all of the proper context was established), we’re now entering the territory in which the characters will start to go off the rails, so the show understands that it needs to go slow now and depict the change in Takayuki and the others properly.

Episode 6 begins with everybody still acting more-or-less rationally. Takayuki continues to visit Haruka, out of a sense of responsibility, but he continues to support Mitsuki and reassure her that everything is OK between the two of them. When talking to Shinji about the situation, he explicitly tells Shinji that he is not still in love with Haruka. When Haruka asks to do their special love spell, Takayuki turns her down. So far, Takayuki seems to be handling things OK, but this episode is devoted to showing his resolve gradually fading, and it ends with Takayuki agreeing to do the spell with Haruka after all. In his internal monologue, he continues to insist that everything’s OK, but he’s clearly crossed the first line that he had set for himself.

In episode 7, the characters still try to pretend that nothing is wrong, but by this point they’re clearly fooling themselves, trying to ignore the growing reality by putting up a fake front. The major event this episode is Mitsuki getting completely sloshed – the show then uses Mitsuki’s drunken state to punch through that facade and expose the real issue, Mitsuki’s growing concern that Takayuki is starting to fall back in love with Haruka. This also allows Takayuki to use Mitsuki’s drunken state as an excuse to sidestep her very valid concerns. The episode then ends with Mitsuki forcibly moving into Takayuki’s apartment without any prior consultation. Although Mitsuki tries to frame it in a positive light, there’s no question on either side that this is a drastic measure that won’t resolve the underlying issues.

On a side note, these episodes also more thoroughly introduce Mitsuki’s perspective. As I’ve mentioned before, the game’s story is told entirely through Takayuki’s first-person perspective, while the anime switches to a third-person perspective that allows the viewer to see things from many different people’s POV. We’ve seen scenes from Mitsuki’s perspective before, but now we’re establishing Mitsuki as a serious POV character with her own storyline. The anime spends several scenes showing Mitsuki’s sadness at having given up swimming. Episode 6 also shows a significant scene of Mitsuki trying to visit Haruka on her own, before being chased out by Akane. These are all anime-original scenes, as they are all scenes that Takayuki wasn’t present for. They help establish Mitsuki as her own character, capable of shouldering the series as well.


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