Just to give everyone the wrong idea
|It is pretty boring when your home internet and TV go out for a couple days. But everything’s fixed now and time to catch up on the last episode of Hikari Tsuneki’s arc on Seiren.|
No Hard Feelings
I invited you out here to reject you once and for all…
So it looked like Hikari was pretty ticked off at the developments last week with Yukie and Araki. And Shouichi was convinced that she suspected him (and she did). It also doesn’t help that Hikari is now giving Shouichi the cold shoulder, certainly a change from before the summer break. But that doesn’t stop him thinking about her.
So far the Disciplinary Committee member is the only person to be wearing lipstick…
Hikari is the one that makes the first move, however, inviting Shouichi out behind the school for a talk / chance to return his sweats. Shouichi was completely unsmooth getting the note too. You find a note on your chair, and you just stand there in the middle of the class and read it? I was kinda surprised that he didn’t get more attention doing that, but he manages to pull it off without being a spectacle in the classroom. But Hikari takes the opportunity to tell Shouichi that now is not the time for them to be friendly, because she doesn’t want to give Yukie the satisfaction of being right about Hikari finding someone she liked at the summer school camp. That goes out the window immediately with the information from the world’s least effective Morals Committee member, Makoto, who has just seen Araki and Yukie fooling around in the rabbit pen, and also gives up Yukie as the person who informed on Hikari’s working.
It’s confrontation time
That leads to Hikari getting the chance to confront Yukie about the goings on, and pretty much everything is according to the obvious: Yukie did it to reduce the competition for Araki, and somewhat suprisingly, Hikari doesn’t really get upset at Yukie about it. It’s not often that the “loser” ascribes to the “All’s Fair in Love and War” theory, but Hikari seems to firmly believe that, she just wants to find out where she screwed up, and why Yukie did it. She can’t really argue too much, since Yukie would go to that length to try to hook him, and to be honest, it’s kinda obvious that Hikari’s not that interested in Araki anymore (if she ever was, since she said she was going to support Yukie).
In the end, we find out who Araki-senpai *really* likes
No Good Resolution
Finally taking a little bit of a chance
Yukie’s right, Hikari is more likely to push him down
So having solved the non-mystery of who actually informed on Hikari, we see that she and Shouichi are having a little more time together. She makes him a squid ink paella to ‘apologize’, and explains why she wasn’t talking to him. Shouichi finally does something to stand up and advance their relationship when he invites her to the beach with him, to give her the chance for fun she didn’t have over summer break. And they actually have a lot of relationship progress there, with some help from a wave. Throw in some kinda pervy talk about bathing with their uniforms on, or even worse about Shouichi wearing Tomoe’s uniform in the bath, which even though Hikari admonishes him for seriously thinking about, she meant for him to think about it. And even more about what she does next, pushing him down and kissing him under the water. Everything’s going great so far…
A lovely underwater kiss
But then the reality of rejection
Until they start talking again. Shouichi tries to confess his feelings, and Hikari bulldozes him to lay out her plans for the future: To go away for a few years. She has realized that she has been protected all her life from those banalities of adult life, the ones that are never celebrated but are really the indicators of what a grown up is. And this has made her want to be a more independent woman, with a career, and more confidence in herself and her abilities. And Shouichi is someone who helped her realize that, with his approval of her efforts. So she’s gotten a recommendation from the owner of her former workplace to be a live-in trainee… in Spain. After they graduate, almost 2 years away. I know that a lot of the theme of this arc has been “discovering your future,” but Hikari shuts down dating Shouichi for now, not wanting him to “make her happy” and possibly shortcut her efforts to make her own happiness. And giving Shouichi a little credit, when she asks him to not stop her, he puts his rejection away and smilingly supports her. And apparently they spend the next year and a half not really talking to each other. But the epilogue shows us the two of them meeting again 5 years later, as Hikari comes back from Spain to be the new head chef at the same place she worked before, and Shouichi is working to become a dietitian.
5 years later, she hasn’t changed her hairstyle at all?
This is one of those things that must resonate with some portion of the intended audience, because this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it. The “I know we love each other, but I’m not good enough to be with you / to satisfy myself, so I’m going to go away for some unreasonably long period of time, not have any contact with you, and make myself better, and then maybe I’ll be worthy of you” ending has annoyed me in other works as well, like Toradora, Nozoki Ana and Velvet Kiss, and I’m hoping that Lily Love doesn’t do it (“So, Highway, how many sex-filled manga have you read?” You’re better off not asking). It just always seems dumb to me. Ok, it’s great you want to better yourself. But it can be a lot easier to do that with the support of someone you like, who likes you, and who wants the best for you. But it’s also true that if the person isn’t supportive, it can be a lot harder, or even derail you completely. So I can see that there’s a point to it, but it always feels so pointless to me, like it embodies those puritanical values of self-punishment and needless deprivation that bug me.
So in the end, I didn’t really care for the resolution of the arc. It was almost there, but the direction that it went just wasn’t for me. I’m sure there are some people who liked it, but it just doesn’t resonate with me. It’s not cute at all, it’s not really loving, it’s more like some “responsibility is attractive” thing. But it is the way it is. As I said, there’s gotta be an audience for that, because there are a lot of stories that end this way. I just hope the other endings are different.