Was Usagi raped?
I will leave that question up to you to decide. I think it’s very clear, though, that something has happened in the past between poor Usagi and the despicable sack of animal excrement that is Tenmyouji Reima. In fact, you can tell that this guy is a real bastard from the very moment Usagi starts hyperventilating at the mere sight of him. To him, Usagi is an ‘important belonging’ of his – that should tell you everything you need to know. In the novels, Usagi goes into a lot more detail in telling Takeru about exactly what he did, but all that is rendered moot for adaptation purposes by that one phrase, which conveys the exact same meaning. In this series, there are characters everywhere with grey morality, a good example being pre-Takeru Ouka (and post-anime Ouka in fact, although that opens up a massive debate as contentious as abortion that I’m not going to get into right now). But Tenmyouji Reima is not one of them. He is pitch black. His attitude was glossed over a lot in the anime, but he’s basically like Matou Shinji except with a lot more derp. If you’re watching Rakudai this season, he’s just like that unpleasant little shit with the invisible arrows whose name I can’t remember, but is significant in that he’s a villain voiced by Matsuoka (and he’s pretty good at doing villains). A pathetic, useless waste of space.
A lot of the contextual background behind Usagi’s plight was heavily glossed over though, and it’s yet another (and I’m beating a dead horse here, I know) issue with the breakneck pacing we’re still going at presumably until we reach Volume 5 – part of me is worried that necks will actually be broken before we get to our destination, but there you go. In the anime, it sounded as if the Saionji family were trying to get to a better social status by political marriage, which isn’t exactly true because the Saionji family are prestigious too. Usagi uses ‘watakushi’ and ‘desu wa’, which is basically declaratory of an ojou-sama. So they already have money, and status – and Usagi isn’t the only heir, because she does have brothers (which the anime conveniently forgot about to make her redacted life story more believable). The problem is that she’s not a legitimate heir. Usagi is a bastard child, which is why her ‘mother’ denied being her mother in the first place – so she’s a useless bunny, on top of being in the worst platoon ever at school. In the eyes of her family, all she is therefore good for is a political marriage – which they do benefit from but not as much as the adaptation makes it sound. It’s the same result, but arising from very different facts because the Saionji family in the anime seem to be casting aside their daughter’s happiness in the hopes of a fancy title to affix to their name.
In light of the fact that this is all supposed to be getting darker, I was disappointed by how much fanservice there was. I guess they couldn’t avoid the scene where everyone dresses up for that one picture at the end, but the ‘happy’ half of the arc this time is dampened by the fact that there was no awesome, cool and funky new character like Mari who waltzed in and stole the show. I mean, there was Usagi coming out of the bath in a scene that mirrored the last time it happened, but even Takeru’s reaction proved that it wasn’t as good this time – he couldn’t stop staring at Mari, even after she told him not to, but with Usagi he just did the standard stammering routine you’d expect by now. So the objective conclusion is that Mari is better. But I digress – they blasted through the set-up for this arc so fast that I was hoping we’d get to see some despair this episode too, and we didn’t. It’s not like the student council wanted help from Ouka putting up decorations for the festival or any shit like that. Instead, they want help getting revenge for the now-dead student council members who all supposedly killed each other, because you know, Ouka has a reputation for murdering witches in cold blood.
As you can probably guess, the festival (like the tournament from the last arc) is just some background noise to the suffering. It’s just the gateway that sets it up. In reality, the festival means nothing, and neither do the dropout alliance. In fact, precedent would suggest that the other platoon this episode end up dying horribly – although we’ve technically already fulfilled our death quota with the student council members, who by the way are in the positions they’re in because of their strength. In other words, the strongest students at the school have been killed.
But I will say, amidst my criticism, that just like last week there was one aspect of the episode that I loved. And that would be this girl, Hoshijiro Nagaru.
I cannot describe how perfect her voice is. In fact, that is exactly how I imagined she would sound! I think she’s even more perfect than Hayato, and I was already ready to marry his voice a couple of posts ago. Nagaru is lazy, very comfy, possibly high and probably counts as a loli. She’s like a dazed, permanently-drugged senpai and it’s awesome. I want to buy a kotatsu and share it with her all through winter. And feed her oranges. It would be the functional equivalent of marriage for her. How comfy would that be?! If you want a fun fact, her name was translated as ‘Nagare’ up until recently, when it was changed to ‘Nagaru’, so it’s still a bit strange for me to call her by the latter. It’s because her voice and personality were adapted so well that it was a pity that the background behind Mephisto wasn’t. A scene was skipped in which Mephisto was shown committing her acts of evil, so that it’d be easier to understand exactly how her power works – ‘devours human minds’ is very vague, as is ‘possession’. Mephisto is also not Laugh Maker, as actual possession (i.e. she is inside her victim’s body) is different from controlling someone’s body movements like a puppet, which is what Ouka had to endure. I’m also not sure why they changed the way the student council died – Nagaru said that one of them was possessed and killed the rest of them, whereas in the novels, Mephisto kept switching between the bodies of the whole student council. All of them got paranoid, and in the ensuing panic they killed each other. The last person standing was terrified that he might be Mephisto without him knowing it, and so he killed himself.
So in general, I think we’re seeing a move away from darkness and towards fanservice, which is not a happy development from my point of view. I’m here for the suffering because it’s exciting and different, and I’ve said that from day one. A lot of the ecchi scenes with Usagi, for example, could have been cut down and replaced with a Mephisto scene, or at least one with the comfiest senpai ever narrating her tale in a bit more depth – I’m not denying that fanservice should be a thing at this stage in the arc, but what I’m saying is that there’s too much of it, and at the wrong sort of cost. It might actually be the very last episode with fanservice in it, but my memory is fuzzy so I can’t be sure. At any rate, I can’t really complain in the sense that I knew something like this would happen if they continued adapting at a pace of two episodes per volume, but still. At a base level, it might be because I’m not particularly inclined towards big-breasted lolis (unlike the author himself, if you’d care for some trivia) and so my reaction to the Usagi fanservice episode isn’t as bright as it was for the Mari one. But that’s only a relative comparison to pettanko lolis by the way. I love all lolis equally! It’s just that some are more equal than others.