Crap hit the fan HARD in this episode. I honestly can’t believe that they essentially called out cancel culture and I’m glad that they did because it is a menace. It’s such a real problem and it needs to be addressed because just like Akane, those sorts of words and sentiments can ruin someone’s mental health and life. The old phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” has aged poorly because words DO hurt a person. It can absolutely wreck them from the inside out, especially by those who are hurt very easily. It’s honestly frustrating how people will take to social media to slander someone with no hesitation despite not knowing the full picture or just had a vendetta against them.
The episode started innocent enough with Yuki essentially playing up her emotions for the camera. It felt a little too dramatic to be real and was like “Aha” when Yuki said while she did feel that way to an extent, she exaggerated it a bit. Probably to seem more sympathetic. However, it did seem like all of them got alone fairly well as friends. Though it was obvious that the TV studio definitely was pushing a narrative between the cast members with Yuki being the center of the love triangle. Thankfully that didn’t seem to bring up any bad blood between anyone, but you could tell it was definitely putting stress on certain individuals, namely Akane. It was obvious that she was trying her hardest to stand out and often asked for advice on how to. But she just didn’t seem like the right person for this type of show.
Things got pretty bad when Akane started feeling a lot of pressure from her company and the audience. Because she’s still trying to get advice on what to do, she isn’t standing out and ended up being mostly a wallflower. Which is something that people would find boring on a reality tv show and mostly gravitate towards the people who show initiative like Yuki. Because of this pressure, she ended up becoming more desperate to put her name out there and butting into the Yuki love triangle. However, it only garnered negative attention because people starting viewing her as the antagonist who is trying to snatch the love interest away from the protagonist. Which sucks because the producers wanted her to play the role of the antagonist to make it more dramatic. Not even caring that about how the audience would view her. Over the course of several years, the internet and social media had been growing exponentially in influence where it seems like a lot of people use it for validation. Which is probably the worst place to seek it especially when people don’t care about how their words could effect others.
Akane’s anxiety and desperation comes to a boil when she tries to make a scene by slapping Yuki away from Kengo only for her to have accidentally scratched her cheek because of the little ornament Yuki put on it earlier. You could tell that Akane was about to just go into a full panic attack out of pure guilt and distress, only for Yuki to rush over and hug her and reassure her that everything is alright. She knew Akane was dealing with a lot of stress and was only acting out of desperation. It was at this moment where I started appreciating Yuki a lot because this could have very well have been just an act to look good. However, the cameras weren’t even rolling so the fact she did this out of pure concern for Akane was honestly touching. Especially with how she understood Akane enough to know that there were no bad intentions behind her actions and she was just trying to play up a part so that she’d make her mark. I feel like they could have easily just made Yuki a terrible primadonna like they have done in a ton of other series, but I really appreciate that despite her cunning personality, she genuinely is a good person at heart.
I had a feeling things were about to spiral out of control when the TV studio decided to leave in Akane slapping Yuki. And because the cameras weren’t rolling when they hugged it out, no one saw that the two were actually okay with each other and started viewing Akane as the villain. So much hate came Akane’s way due to Yuki’s positive popularity on the show and it just sickened me how this could have been avoided if the TV studio cut that specific part out. But no, they wanted the drama. They just had to sacrifice Akane to get it. The irony of Aqua saying that there’s little fakeness in what they show on reality tv show, for the episode to quickly turn it around to show how manipulative it is and how it picks and chooses what people get to see. When Akane posted the apology on twitter, I knew that wasn’t going to go well. Being around Youtube enough has shown me that you can apologize all you want, but the vast majority either won’t believe them or just make fun of them because of how insincere they think it is. Even MEM-cho even brought up how apologies online end up being taken the wrong way and makes people believe they can dogpile on them. It sucks even more that the cast can’t even talk about what happens off screen and I’m sure the other cast members would try and defend her if they could.
Things were downright abysmal as it wasn’t even just people online that were talking smack about Akane, but even people at her school. Which I think is even worse because it feels like she just can’t escape the hate and criticism her actions brought. Especially when they even started to criticize how her mom raised her. It pisses me off seeing people like this think they know all about a person they watch when they only know them to the extent of how much they are shown through the screen. It was terrible seeing what a hardworking and earnest person Akane has been throughout her life, only for the audio overlap to be people bashing on her and making presumptions about her that are obviously not true. It was honestly disgusting. Even more so because people actually do this in real life. You don’t know these people, who are you to judge them like this?
The whole situation is just downright disgusting. I’m just baffled that people just do not care for how others feel and hate on people without a second thought. Hating on characters are one thing since they aren’t real, but hating on the people who either voice or act them is just insane. They’re just doing their job. Social media has slowly devolved into a place where people can just freely say whatever despite it being slander, hurtful or even downright untrue. I’m glad this series is calling it out because cancel culture has become such a big problem that it actually has been costing people their jobs and worse, even their lives at times. And while egosurfing can be nice at times, this episode takes care into demonstrating just how much of a double edged sword it can be and how it can cause someone’s emotional and mental well-being to take a nose dive. Especially those who are just glued to the screen like Akane was through out this entire debacle.
Akane’s emotional and mental state was at an all time low after just being completely destroyed online and it was distressing to see just how tired she was of it all. Even going as far as to attempt taking her own life because she just felt so trapped and bogged down. (To which I’m glad they added that little tidbit at the end since they probably knew this would be triggering to some people) THANKFULLY, Aqua was somehow there to grab her before she fell. While we don’t know how he ended up there at the right time, it was shown through out the episode that he was worried about her. And as an adult and a doctor, I’m sure he could tell the signs of a deteriorating mental state and had to take action. Not to mention with the situation with Ai’s death, he knew all too well how damaging and heartless the internet can be. Hopefully we learn how he knew to be out there when he was.
This episode was rough. Yet again, depicting reality so well with these fictional characters. Especially when this arc was essentially to pay tribute to what happened to Hana Kimura who was on the reality TV show, “Terrace House” and basically underwent exactly what Akane did in this episode. I heard even all of the comments from social media portrayed in this episode were literally taken straight from Twitter from the cyber bullies who were harassing Kimura. Which just begs the question as to just how real are these reality TV shows if they just end up resorting to staged events. It’s despicable how these industries have no problem painting a target on one of the cast members’ backs just to boost ratings and engagement and people online will follow suit.
Contrary to popular consensus… as a character, I don’t really care that much about Akane. I feel absolutely terrible for her situation, but just as a character, I don’t feel that strongly for her one way or another. More indifferent if anything. Which I hate because I literally sound like some of the haters were saying online. BUT THAT’S JUST HOW I FEEL SO FAR. Unlike Kana who I felt like I would end up liking in the end (which I did), I almost had the exact opposite feeling from Akane. When I first saw her, I felt apprehensive for some reason. But time will tell if I stay indifferent or if I end up really liking her. So far I’m much more sympathetic towards her circumstances rather than her herself. No one deserves this type of treatment, that’s a fact and this episode demonstrated how cruel and destructive cancel culture is and it needs to be stopped.