I’m really emotional over this episode and congrats I finally cried. This week we put our main duo of Haru and Rikuo to the side while we focus on learning more about Rou, the boy living in his older brother’s shadow. I really like how they explored his character in this episode. He seems like a realistic and selfish character who wants to be seen as his own person rather than someone living in the shadows. And you know what? That type of character is hard to write without making him seem like a bad character. Yeah, he’s still a bit of brat, like he mentioned, but even now he’s feels as if he’s living in the shadows of his dead brother – how is he supposed to separate himself from that?
Before I jump back in and talk about Rou in depth, I just want to say that I adore Takishita even though he wasn’t super prevalent in this episode, but the few things he did say were really powerful. He’s definitely the character who says what needs to be said at the right time, but I really do like his sentiments that there is a difference between being good at technique and being good at drawing. I especially like the conversation at the beginning of the episode when Rou feels defeated that everyone is already better than him (which honestly seems like a reoccurring thing for him, he’s in the shadows always working to catch up rather than stand side by side). So, Takishita saying that this is a feeling everyone has and that there’s more to art than technique is really nice to hear. His line “And then, once you get decent it gets boring. You feel like you’re drawing the same thing as everyone else”, really emphasizes that he values the individuality of art and enjoying the form rather than just getting good. I really hope we get to see more of him.
Expanding on the idea that Rou is always in someone’s shadow, that certainly stems from how he was treated in childhood. A good portion of his background exploration in this episode shows how he decided to pursue art because it was the only time that people would actually acknowledge him. If he was the art kid, at the very least people would pay attention to him and recognize that he was good art. I would be interested to see if he goes through a period of “I want to separate myself from art and get people to notice me for who I am and not what I draw”, but I think that might not be in the cards for this anime. I do feel bad for him when he’s around Shinako though. Personally, I don’t think he has any chance of being with her, as she said she sees him as a little brother more than a romantic interest and quite frankly I think he just wants her to acknowledge him as his own person more than he wants to have a romantic relationship with her. Getting her to acknowledge him as himself without comparing him to his older brother is going to be a tough step for him to overcome.
But it isn’t feasible for him to make that step without Shinako coming to terms with her grief. And man, that’s not an easy thing to do regardless of how much time it’s been since you’ve lost someone. You can go through periods where they aren’t at the forefront of your mind, but other times (in this case, cherry blossom season) where you just can’t get them out of your head. As seen in episode one, we had no idea that Shinako was dealing with this loss, unless you are a manga reader, but with the change of seasons it becomes really apparent. There is no time limit on grief. Some people take longer to come to terms with it than others, but I really don’t think Shinako should be condemned for it in anyway. She’s not looking for sympathy – though I do feel bad that she sees Yuu in people who can never be him. I liked the way the father talked about it, though using the term “forget” feels a little bit off. But I did like the sentiment, it’s time to think beyond the loss of him and continue to move forward, but it’s okay to come back every once in a while. I’ll be honest, this sentiment hit really hard – I won’t go into very much detail but I lost someone close to me in early January. So, this whole scene just hit really hard. I think for a lot of people the scene at the house with the cherry blossom still hit pretty hard for a lot of people, I’m glad that they took the time and care for that scene.
All around I really enjoyed this episode, I like that they took some time to explore a character Rou’s character especially since we didn’t get to see a whole lot of him after he was introduced. I think it’s incredible just how much they are able to explore about a character in such a short amount of time. Definitely looking forward to see what will follow this episode up!