No pun intended, but this episode HURT. We delve straight into the Honoka arc where we finally get to start learning what kind of trauma Honoka has been harboring. Now that the group has been linked emotionally, it felt almost seamless to delve into Honoka’s backstory since now that they can feel when the other is in a lot of emotional pain, there is only so much Honoka can now hide from them. However, because of how Honoka’s trauma was forced to the surface, it made for an extremely painful situation.
Already, we get some fairly interesting details about Honoka. To which Tenga showed that while he is constantly portrayed as a “muscle head idiot” at times, there are times where he is shown to be a lot more insightful than people give him credit for. As he was able to deduce that Honoka might actually be pretty lonely. While she acts distant and aloof, she still made an effort to come out and hang out with the group whenever they call her. It’s as if she wants to connect with the others, but is hesitant to do so. Shown that while she was presently there, she was still off on her own in the shadows while the rest of the group was in the sunlight in the room.
We get a little bit of insight on why she is especially cold to Nico. From that brief flashback of Honoka and the other girl, Ruru, we can see some similarities between the two. Nico and Ruru seem to share a fairly cheerful demeanor (at least from what we could tell) while also using similar language down to calling themselves dumb after Honoka calls them stupid. And considering that we learn later in the episode that Ruru had died, I can only imagine how it must feel to Honoka to have to deal with someone who reminds her of her deceased friend.
We also get a bit more of Yuta spotlight this episode, finally delving more into his caring side. For the longest time, Yuta has always been shown as selfish and superficial. However, since the last episode, he seems to have become a little more aware that something is wrong with Honoka. When he reads a certain part in a popular manga the two girls who fawns over him brought, he noticed that the dialogue reflected what Honoka said to him in the previous episode. And when he feels her distress walking with her old editor, he actually shows a great deal of concern. Even ditching his outing with the two girls just to chase after her to see if she’s okay. And thankfully he did since the editor was starting to get really pushy about getting Honoka to comply to making a documentary about her manga to push support for the planned movie. A good kick to the nads ended the conversation and Yuta was successfully able to get Honoka out of a rather uncomfortable situation.
Ever since the incident from last episode, Yuta has been noticeably less flirty with her and has started becoming more concerned for her. Even going as far as to be more genuine with her, telling her to stop acting indifferent, knowing that she’s hurting on the inside from what’s happened. He genuinely wants to help her open up, however Honoka probably feeling vulnerable towards the notion of Yuta seeing through her, doubles down on putting a wall between herself and the others. And man, Nobunaga Shimazaki did a fantastic job with his voice line by conveying the hurt in his voice while trying to laugh it off. Thinking about it, that rejection must have cut so deep because this was legit the first time where he was trying to connect with someone else and only got a “I hate you” in response. My poor boy TAT.
After some research, the group finds out that Honoka was one of the creators of the popular manga “The Promise From Heaven” under the shared pen name of Charles de Macking. Everything Honoka has said up to this point has been hinting at her trauma of somehow losing her friend. However, before the group could think deeper into the situation, they are given a new mission to “save Honoka” which ended up just being super messed up. Not only did Sonozaki have a filming crew go to Honoka for the documentary without her consent but also outing her as Charles de Macking, giving her overwhelming attention that she did not want. In turn, triggering her PTSD which causes her to break down screaming in the middle of everything. And man… while this scene is incredibly heartbreaking, it is so well done from the animation to the cinematography to the special effects and the voice actress absolutely killed her gut wrenching scream. That scream honestly makes me tear up a little every time I watch it and it just perfectly demonstrates how broken Honoka is.
But UGHHHHH… what happened to Honoka was beyond cruel. This had to be one of the worst things Sonozaki has made them do. Not only did they emotionally and mentally torment Honoka until her breaking point, but when Tenga blabbed about their mission of “saving Honoka,” that felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. At first, it seemed like the group was there to help because they cared, to which, they did, however, after revealing that it was a mission, it felt like their concern was only out of obligation. That must have felt like such a betrayal and it hurt to see her run off like that. Not to mention it just felt so messed up how the happy music and confetti sounded after the group chased off the film crew, celebrating the fact they completed the mission despite it all just being a set up. I can’t even imagine how hurt Honoka must have felt after that and I can hardly blame her from just running away. Not only was she just used as an experiment, but the people she might have thought she could depend on only acted because they were forced to. Now I know that the group would have gone to help her even without being prompted, but it’s still a very bad look.
I love that it was Yuta who stopped Chidori from running after Honoka because HE KNOWS that nothing they say or do right now would help her. Honoka is a very prideful person, preferring to keep a tight lid over her issues rather than allow herself to be vulnerable with others. Not only that, but she just experienced an incredibly traumatic experience while also feeling betrayed. She needs her space and them running after her would probably only make things worse. And you can tell that the others feel extremely frustrated that there’s nothing they can do right now. I’m glad that Nico brought up the fact that because they’re connected and the pain is equally distributed, Honoka didn’t have to bear that pain all on her own. And it honestly made me really teary eyed to think that if it weren’t for them, Honoka’s pain would have been seven times worse.
Due to the fact that people are starting to get suspicious of the Kiznaiver experiment and supporters were starting to pull out, Sonozaki seems to get desperate over making sure that the project continues. Even resorting to essentially tormenting and pushing Honoka to a breaking point just so that she could collect valuable information on their bonds. While Sonozaki shows little to no emotion, the fact that she went to such lengths seemed to show how desperate she is as earlier in the episode, she had apologized to the other Kiznaivers about putting them in such peril with the Test of Courage and even exempted Honoka from sharing her darkest secret in the second episode. As of right now, we have little to no information about Sonozaki so it’s too early to tell why exactly she wishes to see the Kiznaiver experiment continue. Whatever the reason, she’s willing to nearly break Honoka emotionally to pull results. And while I have no investment in Katsuhira and Sonozaki’s relationship, I am so glad that Katsuhira actually called her out on it and told her that he was disappointed in her. Because yes, what she did was CRUEL.
This episode was absolutely heart wrenching and I can’t help but just feel so bad for Honoka. Despite how prickly she comes across, NO ONE deserves what she was put through in this episode. To have so many traumatic memories be forcefully brought up and thrown into her face like that must have been so damaging and I’m glad the others were there to help her, even if it ended up hurting her in the end. While I’ve watched this episode several times, I think this was the first time I realized just how terribly cruel this whole scenario was. Honoka is just this hurt and broken girl who is doing everything in her power to look as if she has everything under control. Afraid that if she shows an ounce of vulnerability, she will get hurt by others again. And I think that just triggers my maternal instincts because it makes me want to protect her and want nothing but happiness for her. This series did a fantastic job in making you invested in this character
and I wish they did the same for the others.
Speaking of other characters, you can tell that some of them have started to change. The two most prominent ones being Yuta and Katsuhira in this episode. For Yuta, not only is he starting to genuinely care for Honoka’s well-being, but he also went as far as to reach out to the others for help despite having ignored them at the beginning of the episode. Seeing them as people he can depend on rather than burdens. Though I still had to laugh at the fact he recognized Honoka from the back because of the shape of her hips and ankles. Like BRUH, that’s kinda weird lol. I could go on, but I want to save my thoughts on him for the next episode where I will surely just vomit everything I’ve been holding back for these past several posts. As for Katsuhira, he’s started taking more initiative, going as far as to confront Sonozaki for what she did and even expressing disappointment instead of his usual indifference. He’s starting to empathize more with the others, showing more concern towards them while being exposed to their emotional pain. Next episode is gonna be a doozy and I’m sure I’m going to have A LOT to say about it, especially in regards to certain characters.