Eva’s Impression: Holy crap, so much happened this episode, so there’s a lot to unpack here! To make this easier, we’re going to break this down into sections just to try and make it easier to process because goodness, there’s a lot to dig into!
Nagi’s and Haruki’s Backstory
I must confess, to an extent, it was sort of unexpected to see Tenn bring up the matter of Haruki’s living will at the moment he did– especially when you consider everything that just went down. But the will was obviously an important piece of information, and he had hoped that maybe Nagi knew something about it. Unfortunately it was the opposite, as it turns out, Nagi was not mentally prepared to hear that. We have seen the way Nagi can close up when he doesn’t was to deluge any information about himself, but man, when it comes to Haruki, and the fact that Kujo had received a letter, Nagi just snapped in a way we have never seen him lose his cool before. The whole group had to pry him off of Tenn because he was gripping to him so hard, insisting he hand over his phone to could demand some answer from Kujo. And when he was told to calm down he actually screamed, “I AM CALM!” – spoiler alert, he was most definitely not. Unfortunately for Nagi, the Kujo didn’t have much to add beyond the fact all his replies to the postage address was returned, and the only lead of where the letter had been sent from Japan, which was why Kujo came to Japan in the first place.
The reason why Nagi was so distressed about the fact Kujo received a letter wasn’t just because it was a living will, but because to him it sounded like he was in frequent contact with him. Nagi knows that Haruki is suffering from an illness, and Haruki was under his care for a year before he suddenly disappeared. The two of them known each other for four years, and the two would always see each other whenever Haruki dropped into the country. So it’s understandable why Nagi responded the way he did, he is desperate to know if he is okay, and most importantly, alive. He had hoped that by singing Haruki’s song, he would see where he is, but unfortunately Nagi has yet to receive any follow-ups since. It’s also worth pointing out, we don’t know the exact date when Kujo had received the living-will, nor did they specify that today, but it did sound like it has been a while since.
But one of the interesting things Haruki made a point of to Nagi was that after Zero had disappeared without a trace, he had decided if he were to ever disappear too, he would do two things: he would leave a letter for his friends if he ever went missing, and he wouldn’t fear making friends with mysterious people. We have seen him follow through with the first point, but the later point is a bit more perplexing. It does make you wonder a bit more about the nature of his relationship with Zero, perhaps hinting that he regrets not having the courage to become closer to him at the time when it mattered most. After-all, as it turns out, even Haruki himself never knew Zero’s true name, nor where he was born. So when he just got up and vanished, it’s no wonder it’s been such a struggle to trace him down after all these years.
But regardless of what their relationship might have been at the time when they worked closely together, without a doubt Haruki valued Zero as a precious friend, which is why he is traveling everywhere in attempt to find him. The reason why he would often visit Northmeir was because Zero said he wanted to come to the land of northern lights, bards and angels, which sounds almost like mythical reason, but also symbolic in a sense of his fame and story as Zero.
Chaotic Trio and Kujo
After Nagi’s distress over the letters, it wouldn’t be Idolish7 without some form of a hilarious chaotic confrontation with none-other than Kujo to lighten things up— well for a bit anyways. Either way, it was greatly entertaining! And honestly you have to hand it to Kujo for even having the patience to even stop what he was doing and listen to these kids. I mean, let’s be real, most people would probably just walk away at that point because who wants to deal with three children yelling at you?
For that reason, even though Haruka came into this conversation as a childish brat that wanted to gloat at Kujo and hear him say he regret putting his faith in Tenn/defeated– only for Kujo to add some salt to the wounds by saying the exact opposite by reaffirming he has absolute confidence in Tenn– Ouch. I mean can you really blame Haruka for all the hurt and sense of abandonment he feels? What Haruka was trying to do today was not just to be smug about it as a payback, but also just hungry for any form of acknowledgement, the point he was in tears when he brought up how Kujo once told him he could surpass Zero one day. And the way Kujo just throws around the statement to his potential stars is no laughing matter. It just undermines their entire confidence and crushes their hopes and dreams the second he retracts that statement.
That said, we did see Kujo apologize today (thanks to Tenn lecturing him), but… I’m not entirely sure whether it should be counted as such? He apologized for being wrong… but we also know that can be interpreted in many ways, many of of them which are not the correct way, like “being wrong about saying you could surpass Zero” – that’s certainly not an apology. It would need to be more along the lines of acknowledging the wrongdoings and consequences of both his words and actions. But it appears the “apology” did catch Haruka off-guard, especially since I highly doubt he was really expecting it, but it’s hard to say exactly how he processed it since it got quickly swept under the rug when the topic shifted to him being Aya’s “boyfriend” (he says he’s not though, but that explains who he was on the phone with at school).
And speaking of which, oh my gosh! I totally lost it when Kujo introduced Haruka to Tamaki as Aya’s biological brother, and then goes on to say said Haruka was Aya’s boyfriend, because I audibly shouted, “WHAT?! SHUT UP. NO REALLY? WHAT!?!?!” But it appears(?) it was just a misunderstanding on Kujo’s part since Haruka quickly shut that down and went on to say he doesn’t have any affection of a terrible cook (RIP Aya). I was like, “Bro! You’re asking for trouble if you roast Tamaki’s sister in front of him!” Amazingly that didn’t end up badly, because Tamaki actually shifted the conversation back to Kujo, where Tamaki actually called him out by preaching after all the pain he has gone through, “…that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want!” because that’s exactly what’s going on. Kujo is stuck with this one-track mind of recreating a star that can shine even brighter than Zero, and as result he has hurt so many people along the way. On that note, I don’t think I even want to know how many people he has “adopted” and “promised to be their father” to, but I digress.
Honestly I’m absolutely here for the chaotic interactions between Haruka, Iori and Tamaki. They are a lively bunch, and when they do these silly things together, it really helps shine a bit more humanity and charm to Haruka’s character. Sure he got a load of problems, and has gotten involved in some really stupid things such as his role in luring Tenn out to be kidnapped– that he well deserves a smack for not being remorseful about it, hell, the little shit was proud of himself of doing his part of a crime! But you know what? Despite his flaws and all, he got this cute side of him, aka: he’s our little shit we can’t help but have a soft spot for. It kind of makes you want to protect him in a way that you hope things will get better (in a healthy and legal/respectful way) down the line. After-all, talk about shoddy luck of being screwed over by broken promises from a man who desperately needs a therapist, and now working with a total psychopath who absolutely doesn’t give a crap about idols, much less his dreams– should they still exist.
Also bless Tamaki for his lack of filter at times like this: “Well, do you know your agency’s president sucks super bad?”, oh my gosh, I was crying from laughing so hard from this. Tamaki is just verbalizing all of our thoughts!
But amidst Haruka (failed) to attempt to gloat over the mess Trigger is in, Kujo getting roasted by Tamaki (justifiably so), we got some crucial information not just how difficult it is to predict Haruki’s location, Zero’s reasons for wanting to see Northmeir’s Northern Lights, there was a more serious topic of interest that came out of it when conversation shifted to a conversation Iori and Kujo had about Riku during the first half of the season (S3: episode 2). So when Iori confronted him on that matter today, Kujo went on to say,
“If Tenn is an Angel, then Riku is a Monster.”
So what did Kujo mean by that?
The first thing that crossed my mind was, is he referring to Riku devouring Idolish7 whole by overshadowing the group due to his exploding popularity? It seems Iori agrees with that assessment, and there’s a good reason for it.
Flashback to the Sakura Message performance (S3: Ep 7): Iori been picking at his brain trying to understand what Kujo meant by that, and Tamaki making the point how Riku is able to smitten the audience. Ever since that point was made, Iori starts developing an unsettling feeling, where it feels like he is being left behind. This is an interesting train of thought when we compare it to how Sogo described it today. Instead of “monstrous” as Kujo had put it, he likens it to the kind of “awesomeness” where it feels it’s as though Idolish7 and the fans are becoming one, centered around Riku.
Sure that sounds nice and all on paper, but once you take a step back and look at it objectively, you can see what Kujo was referring to by the writing on the wall of what could spell the demise of Idolish7.
Having a large group like Idolish7 becoming (unintentionally) centered around one person like Riku spells a number of problems. The first comes to mind is the group imbalance. Fans will start demanding more content/air time from Riku, which starts eating into the other member’s shares. Sure, they may be good at other things, like Yamato with acting, Mitsuki with MCing, Nagi with Modeling and Sogo and Tamaki already having an established sub-unit… but notice of the lot: Iori is the odd one out when it comes to putting his face out there. What is Iori’s niche as an idol? He’s good at management, but that won’t help him forming a relationship with his fans. You could also say he’s a jack of all trades, however being a master of none creates this problem makes him harder to stand out among the rest. Sure, he is very much motivated in helping other shines (especially Riku in this case), but where does that leave him once they don’t need his support?
That’s why there was certainly an ominous sense of foreboding when Riku just innocently said, “Thank you. I love getting hyped up with our fans at concerts. I bet everyone who stands onstage feels that way.” because oh honey, I hate to break it to you, but it looks likes Iori and I disagree with you there. But Riku is the type with the pure mindset, so naturally when he hears this, he thinks this is a good thing. After-all, it’s one thing when you’re the center and under the spotlight, but it’s another when you’re stuck as a shadow.
And we already know of this can/will result creating unwanted tension within the group, and contribute to undermining the member’s confidence as an idol. We got a taste of the consequences of that in Season 2, with a division forming between the Riku fan base, and Iori’s fan base when Iori stepped in as a temporary center, which resulted making this awkward between Riku and Iori. We also saw how Mitsuki struggled with finding his place in the group due to the lack of recognition/and being chewed out for “talking over” their favourites, and it was was gut-wrenching to watch. So this draws an interesting conflict of interests, as it seems (for now anyways) that the other members are either not consciously aware of the potential consequences of this development, or they are simply not bothered by the idea of being centered around Riku. It’s a bit too early to say, but Iori is the kind of character who is able to get a fairly good read on a developing pattern, and once he properly retraces their steps as Kujo suggested him to do, the danger will become more clear. But even then, Iori may find himself feeling even more powerless by the situation because how is he supposed to “moderate” Riku’s exploding popularity and natural ability to charm people? Perhaps ignorance would have been a bliss in this case.
Bearing all of that in mind, it’s worth to note they could also suffer yet another major fallout if Riku needs to step back and let Iori be “center” again for a time again. While they were barely able to get by the last time they did it, as Riku becomes progressively more popular, devoted Riku fans are bound to lash out at the idea of “rotating centers”, even if it’s just during a seasonal period when Riku’s health is at a greater risk. After-all, fans can be incredibly unreasonable to the point that they could start harassing other members or make the person of interest collapse from the insurmountable pressure they are put under in attempt to meet the fans’ expectations. In this case, this could be disastrous for Riku considering his condition as we know there is a seasonal period where Riku needs to be cautiously pace himself. In fact, perhaps this is where you can attribute to Riku being the shining star that eventually burns out.
The Deal with the Devil
Oh joy, the dreadful deal offered by the devil himself.
Gosh, it really sucked to see Yaotome going as far as bowing his head, and pleading him to stop attacking them. But we all know that is futile considering Ryo thinks it’s so much fun to mess with everyone and treat them as his toys. So he offers Yaotome two options: Hand over Trigger, and Ryo will “protect” them and make Yaotome’s scandal go away (probably by throwing Sumire under the bus). However if Yaotome doesn’t comply to his demands, Ryo will continue his efforts on stamping them out for good.
We all know this can’t end well if Ryo gets a hold of Trigger, and we also really don’t want that to happen, so the whole idea certainly makes me queasy because the so-called “easy fix” is a deal with the devil– and we all know that even if he were to accept the offer, things won’t end well for Trigger, or anyone else for that matter (including Zool) since Ryo doesn’t care about idols and only treats them as their playthings until he gets bored of them.
And lo and behold, just as Trigger looks forward to the Music Festa– yeah hold that thought Tenn– Yaotome hands them a termination contract, and to their horror, orders them to sign it.
Now here’s the thing: We were left with this cliffhanger of not knowing of the specifications of the termination contract. It’s one thing if says they are being handed over to Tsukumo. But it’s another if Yaotome is merely making them “free-agents” again. This way, Trigger would not be under Ryo’s “direct” control. Now that doesn’t mean Ryo couldn’t have complete control over them. Right now we are seeing the ripple effect of Ryo’s influence impacting the entertainment industry as a whole. Blackmailing high profile people to submit to him to wear out or destroy his targets, and forcing those who conflict with his interests/game elsewhere. So even if Trigger were to be an independent body, they are just as, if not more vulnerable to being shut out from the industry, making it difficult to promote themselves and so on forth. This kind of path requires true resilience and strength to weather this storm until it finally passes, and so far, Trigger has shown Yaotome that they are certainly capable of doing just that. So if that’s what they got to do until they can finally take Ryo down, I can see them going with this approach.
But if they do end up being transferred over to Tsukumo, it will certainly create a whole new matters of complications, such as making it difficult to even leave the agency if they so desire to. Furthermore, this would only encourage Ryo to continue his ways since it would validate that this is the best method to get what he wants. As he reiterated today, the hunt doesn’t end with Trigger. He is looking to obtain Idolish7 and Re:Vale as well.
Either way this is a very messy and complicated situation. So the idea of just “setting them free”, may actually be the best course of action to ensure that Ryo doesn’t gain possession of them, as well as attempting to protect the agency as a whole. There is less traction (so to speak) for Ryo to pursue if Trigger is no longer affiliated with Yaotome Productions.
Re:Vale Counter Plan
Finally, last but not least, if Momo (and soon enough Yuki) weren’t already fired up enough as it is, with Ryo dragging Banri into the mess (like BRO WHAT THE HELL? PULLING HIS HAIR LIKE THAT WAS SO UNCALLED FOR!) by provoking Momo is a sure way to do light their fire even further. What was interesting to see today though was Yuki suggesting they use a modern day “Chiba Salon” strategy of their own. They already have some form of evidence to use against Ryo for the crimes he committed should Yaotome decide he wants to pursuit a lawsuit, but they fear it may not be enough as it could be brushed off as a case of “stalkers”. So if they want to gather more concrete evidence, or set a proper trap for Ryo to fall into, they need to form a tightly-knitted alliance with those who are not happy with the way Ryo is influencing the Entertainment Industry. After-all, Ryo won’t stop at Trigger, Idolish7 and Re:Vale are next on his list to serve as his toys.
Holy shit, that was a lot to process, maybe I had too much to say, I certainly underestimated how long this was going to get. [Laughs Nervously at Word Count] There was so much interesting information, but not to the point where it would overwhelm you when you watch it– though it’s an entirely different matter when you start trying to connect the dots and stuff, that’s when it gets crazy. This was a really good episode, and I enjoyed every second of it. It’s always such a treat to get all this juicy information! But my absolute favourite scene was of course the chaotic trio bombarding Kujo with questions and bickering! I was in tears from laughing so hard!
Though holy crap, uh… please tell me I’m not the only one who kind of freaked out over the fact Haruki looks like a perfect mix of Torao and
Snake Minami. I’m like hold-up, is he related to one of them?!? I mean, since the first half of the season, some reason had some sneaking suspicion Minami may be related to Haruki… but now looking at him… it feels like they share similar looking eyes, so makes me even more suspicious, not to mention didn’t Minami say he was working on a song together with someone in Northmeir as well. Suspicious indeed…
But I will say, I was disappointed in one thing, and that was with Tenn for not even apologizing to Riku for after the fact he bruised his face with that slap. Like dude, did you have to hit your brother that hard? Also he’s an idol, and an idol’s face is everything, and you’d think Tenn of all people would know that. So when Tsumugi started freaking out over it, Tenn should have came forward to confess that was his doing, and apologize for it. Really… not a good look man. That said, Riku doesn’t appear to be too bothered by it because he’s far more elated to have participated in the adventure of rescuing his brother. Well, maybe that slap taught him not to feign his illness in front of his brother again, but it certainly didn’t teach him to “stay out of danger”. Well, Riku be Riku, he’s not going to pass up on an opportunity to be his brother’s unsung hero, not to mention we know Tenn wouldn’t hesitate to do the same.
Ah, before I wrap things up, there is one last point to touch on. It might not be important though. It’s just that I did find it rather curious how Nagi mentioned his father didn’t let him meet Haruki, even though it was someone he had worked with. Who to say if it’s because of Nagi’s status, or perhaps he feared Nagi would be influenced to pursue music or what’s not, or it was simply all because of Nagi’s impatience to meet him, either way, the main reason Nagi had sought Haruki out in the first place is because he wanted to meet the musician from his mother’s homeland.