Anime Rewatch 2021: Kimi ga Nozomu Eien 8-9

This batch of episodes continues the significantly slower pace that began in episode 6, exploring the emotional toll on the characters rather than the breakneck speed from episodes 1-5. Here the show is really building to the big climax at the end of episode 10, so there’s not too much plot development at this point in the series.

The major development in episode 8 is Mitsuki’s request to Takayuki to stop visiting Haruka. This is spurred by Mitsuki successfully visiting Haruka after the aborted attempt in episode 6 (again, another anime-original storyline). Seeing Haruka talk so happily about Takayuki is the catalyst for Mitsuki to ask Takayuki to break off contact. The rest of the episode concerns the fallout from that, as the relationship between Takayuki and Mitsuki begins to break down completely.

We’re really beginning to see the central metaphor of the series take shape here. Takayuki doesn’t just keep seeing Haruka because he loves her, it’s because he loves the experience of talking with her. When he’s with Haruka, he’s forced to act as if he is still in high school, and it reminds him that that period was the happiest time of his life. When Haruka asks about his studies, it reminds him that once upon a time, he hoped to get into Hakuryo University so that he could be with her. For that small period of time, his vision of the future was bright, and it was all because of Haruka.

By contrast, his relationship with Mitsuki is disintegrating before his eyes. Even though they now live together, he barely talks to her. Immediately after promising not to see Haruka anymore, he requests more shifts at the Sky Temple rather than spend more time with Mitsuki. He’s shown hanging out at the park, at the arcade, or just loitering outside killing time, rather than return home where he knows Mitsuki is waiting for him.

The problem, for Takayuki, is that his relationship with Mitsuki is difficult and complicated, an adult relationship with adult problems that they are both failing to handle. His relationship with Haruka is extremely simple, an idyllic high-school romance with little effort involved. The fact that Haruka cannot process the amount of time that has passed means that she is trapped in the past, and she can only engage with Takayuki based on the past. But for Takayuki, returning to Haruka and the past is more attractive than dealing with Mitsuki and the present.

Moving on, the major development in episode 9 is Takayuki’s search for a fresh copy of Haruka’s picture book, which gets resolved with a random encounter with Ayu. This provides the show’s only hint to Ayu’s backstory, and brings up an interesting point about how the show uses its supporting cast. In most visual novel adaptations, all of the characters’ routes are incorporated into a single show, making sure that anime viewers get to see all of the characters’ stories. KimiNozo is somewhat unique in that it focuses entirely on the main storyline featuring Takayuki, Mitsuki, and Haruka, and all of the other characters’ stories have been ruthlessly cut from the show. Characters appear only as much as necessary to support the main storyline, but fade into the background otherwise. As I mentioned before, the show goes to great lengths to present itself as a proper dramatic story rather than a visual novel adaptation, and this treatment of its lesser characters is a major aspect of that.

Ayu is a great example of that, as her story is only touched on to the extent needed to get that picture book into Takayuki’s hands. After her role is done, she fades back into being a supporting character, and those hints about her backstory are never followed up on. Mayu’s backstory is reduced to a single line in episode 3 about how car accidents are scary, which is only included because of its resonance to Takayuki’s story. On the nurses’ side, Hotaru has already made her last appearance on the show in accordance with her backstory, but it’s never explained in detail. Fumio will drop by later to expand on it a little. And Manami has been reduced to cameo appearances, for reasons fans of the game will appreciate.

On the flip side, this episode also brings both Shinji and Akane back into the story in a major way. Shinji had faded from the story, while Akane had mostly been treated as an obstacle to be overcome. But this episode restores them as characters in the story, setting them up for their much larger roles coming next episode.

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