This episode was A LOT in more ways than one. Out of the three episodes we’ve seen so far, this probably had to be the most rushed as it was just so incredibly dense with so much content. They did the best they could with it, but it definitely felt like the pacing was a bit fast in this one. However, this episode was still fantastically done, especially with how they nailed the emotion at the end there. I legit teared up while also just writhing on the floor in pain. Like, I knew this was coming, but it didn’t make it hurt any less. And while I’m sad we STILL haven’t seen the opening for this season, I have to give the episode credit for cutting out both the opening and ending so they could fit as much content as physically possible into the runtime. And boy did they really pack it in.
Also I must apologize in advance but I have A LOT to say about this episode… It’s gonna be a long one.
In any case, the episode starts out innocently enough… with Yamato sitting in the shadows while the rest of the group is in the light. Subtlety, what subtlety??? I do actually really appreciate the symbolism by the way. This episode right off the bat shows that Yamato has put a very firm line between himself and the others and I just find that incredibly sad. Especially since these guys have gone through so much and Yamato still feels as if he can’t trust them. And it just really hit me seeing how he’s always the one to lead the charge in all of their concerts. Especially when they all throw their hands together, his is always at the bottom to throw them back up in the air. And was it just me or did it feel just so telling that in that group hand thing, Yamato was the only one who had a bit of his sleeves covering his hand while everyone had their hands fully exposed?
Before we delve into the Yamato drama, I want to take a moment to talk about the Sakura Message performance. I appreciate that Troyca has been upping their 2D game, but in the process, their CG be looking a bit jank. Season 1 honestly felt like it had the best CG so I’m not sure what’s been happening as their CG has been getting worse and worse for whatever reason. Unless I’m totally remembering wrong and their CG was always jank… But that isn’t the point. Not to mention in the 1st season, the transition between CG and 2D was almost seamless. In this performance however… oh dear. It was VERY noticeable and mildly distracting at times just watching the 2D just suddenly become CG. I can tell that the 2D bits during the Sakura Message performance were rotoscoped as there were some very slight movements that normal animation wouldn’t typically capture or think to animate. Not to mention the camera tracking during those scenes would be REALLY hard to do normally. But I do really like the more expressive animation during the performances and the moving of the camera and dynamic angles.
And while Sakura Message isn’t the most dance heavy song, the visuals were absolutely stunning with the cherry blossoms. It was also very apparent that they took inspiration from the first live with them sitting down on some stairs (in basically the same positions their VA’s took during that segment) with the piano in the background. I was a bit disappointed that Sogo wasn’t on the piano like his VA was in the live. But that’s just a nitpick. Overall, the performance was fine despite the CG jank.
At this point, I think everyone is well aware that I am not the biggest fan of the new characters. HOWEVER, Toma is a completely different story. This man’s introduction is him freaking crying on the sidewalk. And while yes, upon realizing Riku is from Idolish7, Toma goes into immediate jerk mode by shouting at him over how Idolish7 beat Trigger despite being worse than them. HOWEVER yet again, immediately after we see Toma’s true colors and that he isn’t as bad a guy as he tries to make us (and Riku) believe. Despite being driven by anger and hatred towards Trigger beating his group in the Black or White, which ended in his group’s disbandment, Toma shows actual decency and genuine concern by coming back and taking care of Riku when he gets knocked down and goes into a coughing fit after being passed by someone with far too strong of cologne. Unlike the rest of the new characters, Toma actually shows positive traits right off the bat while the others were all negative first impressions.
And boy, do I BROTP him and Riku HARD after this one interaction. Honestly, their whole interaction just felt hilariously wholesome despite Toma’s barking about wanting revenge on Trigger and Idolish7. I absolutely lost it when Toma tried to be this dark and brooding character only to demand that Riku ask for his reasoning. He’s so dumb, it’s great. Riku’s dynamic with him was something I didn’t realize I needed until I saw it. They’re literally a mad dog and a puppy, which is a pretty cute combo, not gonna lie. It was rather cute how he pulled him by his pants chain to stop him from leaving. Not to mention they were almost immediately on first name basis and they just freaking met. I actually enjoy their dynamic a lot more than Iori and Riku (though to be fair I didn’t really care for their dynamic in the first place). Riku’s puppy dog-like personality just works so well with Toma’s presumed tough guy exterior. I typically don’t like the really loud and brash, Tsundere guy characters, but Toma somehow makes it work. And yes, I do like him. Which is why I do not refer to him by a nickname unlike the other new characters.
We also get some much deserved Ryu spotlight. Which is nice because I feel like the series doesn’t focus on him enough because he absolutely deserves to be noticed. Though they seem to actually address the problem with Ryu in the first season as he lacks in drive compared to Tenn and Gaku, causing him to not stand out as much. He never really takes the initiative in his job as an idol, which is probably why most fans’ attentions tend to be steered towards the other two. While yes, he enjoys his job, but he doesn’t share the same amount of passion for it as the other two. However, because of that lack of drive, Yaotome Sr believes Ryu is the key to making Trigger even greater if he can put himself out there just as much as Tenn and Gaku.
Ryu is also having some image problems and while we always knew he was less than enthused about the Wild and Sexy image the company gave him, we start to see some personal problems stemming from it. Poor guy just wanted to help and support his family. The last thing he wanted was to cause them trouble. All of this ends up in him having to meet up with Torao Mido, who Yaotome Sr wants Ryu to learn from since he’s literally the type of guy Ryu is being published as.
Also, the irony of Tenn telling Ryu that things between his brother will be fine since they’re siblings. Like: …bruh. You still have your own brother problems to sort out. I don’t think you should be talking lol.
Initially Torao seems nice, but the further his conversation with Ryu goes… the more sus he gets. Not only does he try and guilt trip Ryu in how he’s “lying” to his fans, but also claims that he wants to be like Ryu because girls keep turning him down for not being like him. Already, that’s kind of a red flag as it hints that Torao may not be such a good guy since the girls he tries to pick up want him to be “kinder.” Ryu was already having a problem with his corporate image, but Torao seemed to be trying to make him question if he’s a genuine person or just a liar. To which I have to say: Excuse me sir, but kindly BACK OFF. However, Ryu seems to handle him pretty well by explaining how he seems to come to terms with the disparity between his image and who he truly is as a person. Which is like, good on your Ryu for being self aware.
Just like Minami, Torao feels fake as he proclaims that he comes across to me as a Ryu wannabe. Not to mention incredibly sleazy as Ryu was being nothing but genuine with him, but Torao was out here trying to see if he had any relation to the Chiba Salon scandal and I’m sure he wasn’t joking about recording their conversation. Just watching him try and corner Ryu was just beyond infuriating. In any case, him being sus was right on the money because he most likely had Ryo listening to that entire conversation. The web just keeps getting bigger…
Yamato’s situation is incredibly complicated. We actually get to learn more about his mindset through the character he’s playing in the movie, which hit pretty close to home with him. It is made apparent that Yamato is just incredibly scared about the other guys not loving him once they found out how he really was. Ever since joining, Yamato has been wearing a mask, making sure not to let his true personality show so that others would like him. It’s honestly sad that he believes that no one would like him if they saw the real him. He became so attached to the others in the group that he probably couldn’t stand the thought of them hating him. Which goes along with what he said in the last episode of never once had he thought he’d care to hold onto anything. But now that he’s experienced love within the group, he finds it hard to let go of the admiration he built up within it. And he blames all of this baggage on his dad. And man, I absolute love how it kept switching between his character in the movie and himself as if they were one in the same. Both to show the audience that he is finding things in common with the character he is portraying, but also demonstrating how he really feels. Which was honestly such a great visual.
I also really appreciate Yuki trying to help Yamato in both his acting and his situation. Even though the guy is facing his own struggles, he’s still trying to watch out for Yamato and supporting him the best he can.
And then the anticipated confrontation happens and the entire thing is just PAIN. I was not ready for this scene. I thought I was ready… but I was very wrong. Despite Mitsuki wanting to wait for Yamato to tell them his situation himself, it was obvious from last episode that his stance in the matter was starting to wane. It was only a matter of time before Mitsuki actually straight out asked Yamato what was going on with him. And boy did I want to just smack Yamato across the face for just belittling Mitsuki and Nagi’s concern for him. He made it out to be like they just wanted to run the rumor mill but he should know that is definitely NOT the case. As I said earlier, I know that Yamato is just scared, however that is still no excuse for going out of his way to hurt them for caring about him. And it KILLS me to see that no matter how much Mitsuki expressed that he just wants to help him, Yamato keeps insulting all of them and running away.
I absolutely loved how they kept switching between Ryu’s conversation and Mitsuki’s confrontation with Yamato. Ryu made it super clear how lying to his group mates would cause him to be scared and hate himself. Something that most likely rings true to how Yamato is currently feeling. And everything he was saying was completely true as Yamato continued to say hurtful things after hurtful things to Mitsuki. This was probably the last thing he wanted to do, but he just kept doing it.
And boy howdy did it HURT to see so many elements from the second season come back in the worst possible way. ESPECIALLY with Mitsuki bringing back up the moderation that Yamato gave him to use on their relationship. Mitsuki so desperately wanted to just talk things out with Yamato and hear things from his perspective, but Yamato just kept dodging the issue as if Mitsuki’s feelings hardly mattered. And I just absolutely HATE it when people brush off concern as if it were a nuisance. I could hardly blame Mitsuki for getting so frustrated over someone he cares about talk to him like that and ended up punching him. Was that the right way to handle things? No, definitely not. But I feel like there was really no right way to handle this situation.
The VA’s did absolutely AMAZING in this scene. I was extremely worried whether or not Tsubasa Yonaga would be able to pull off the emotions this scene needed due to his condition. But he NAILED it and I could hear the sadness, the hurt, the desperation and anger in his voice when Mitsuki was just BEGGING Yamato to just talk to him and stop trying to run away. And it absolutely broke my heart hearing him yell he could never hate him after everything he’s done for him. PAIN.
And then another element from the second season came back with Sogo begging Yamato to talk to them about the situation rather than allowing it to bubble up and fester like what happened with Sogo. And this is probably where it was even more obvious that Yamato was being a hypocrite and not following his own advice. While he claims that his and Sogo’s situations are different, it really isn’t. Both are withholding information that is ultimately killing them from the inside out while also hurting those around them. And this is where I find myself much more frustrated with Yamato than Sogo last season. Yamato is actively hurting the others with his attitude while Sogo was trying so hard to not hurt anyone (despite failing in the end). Sogo is still learning to be more open with others while Yamato is very conscious that what he is doing is hurting the others. It’s obvious he feels guilty about it, but still refuses to address it. Which is probably the most frustrating.
Everything ends in complete pain and despair. Both Yamato and Mitsuki have left the flat (with Iori following after Mitsuki) and Nagi in tears. BRUH. That HURT me watching him cry like that. The reason Nagi wanted to hold the group together was because he never wanted what happened with Haruki to happen again. Which is why he would always express concern when anyone was hurting. He wanted to help them in any way he could so they wouldn’t have to suffer in silence until it was too late. And just seeing all of the flashbacks of the good times they all had together just brought so much pain to my heart.
And man did it also hurt to hear Tamaki ask if Sogo was going to leave as well. With Yamato and Mitsuki gone, Sogo is literally the last adult in the house (since you aren’t a legal adult until 20 in Japan). We already know that Tamaki has a deep seated fear of being left alone, considering what happened with his family. So seeing both Mitsuki and Yamato just upright leave must have hurt and scared him tremendously. I really appreciate Sogo stepping up. He clearly sees that the others are anxious and distraught over the situation and he needs to be adult to look after all the minors. Mom #2 is here to try and keep the remaining family together.
Everything is pain. This episode was pain. My heart is broken even though I read this part in the game already. I was not prepared for the sheer weight of the scene to be animated and I feel nothing but pain. But this episode was also REALLY good. After talking about it with Berry, we both agree that while season two’s drama felt like they were just happening at random, the drama in this season feels intertwined and engaging. Everything is connected and the way everything is playing out is just so interesting, even if it hurts. The start of this episode was basically the perfect set up for everything to fall apart at the end. Ironic that they were talking about how everyone covers for each others weaknesses and wouldn’t be able to function properly if everyone isn’t present…. HAH. I’m laughing because it hurts.
We’ve hit rock bottom at this point, so no where to go but up, right? Well… I guess that’s not quite right since we still have the Trigger drama. Though even in this episode, you can see them setting another layer of foundation as to the reason why Trigger fell. They addressed several times through out the episode how popularity is everything and that the fans dictate who is popular and who will be forgotten. Fans can be fickle and even the most loyal of fans could be swayed to another. Foreboding? VERY.
Also one last note, because of the sheer amount of time and effort these posts takes me (while also balancing everyday business), they most likely will be posted on Tuesdays from now on.