Finally we’re getting the backstory of how Sumi ended up with the Saimori! Gosh there were moments of tearjerkers, I definitely choked up at the bit Sumi told Miyo she loves her. TT ^ TT
Due to business failing with Tsuruki Trading, they found themselves heavily in debts and so against her father’s wishes, Sumi made the ultimate sacrifice by choosing on her own to marry into the Saimori family, who had offered to pay off their debts in exchange for her hand in marriage. While she saved her family, Sumi lost so much in return, as out of anger, her father cut her off from the Usuba family, and she and Miyo were left to fend for themselves. And from the moment of Miyo’s birth, Sumi learned Miyo’s powerful gift of Dream Sight. She knew the Saimori would exploit this ability, and with her frail body, she knew she didn’t have much time left in the world to protect her, and so she made the difficult decision to seal Miyo’s powers.
Bearing that in mind, you could say to some extent, Miyo’s dreadful fate at the Saimori’s was something more or less written into stone. It really didn’t matter whether she had powers or not. Sure she might have been treated better overall and less physically abused, but they certainly would have been abused in other ways, of being treated like a caged bird, abusing her powers for their own gains. I don’t think Miyo would have been happy. I don’t think she would have ever received true family love with the Saimori. If anything, instead of being treated like a servant, she would have been merely treated like a glorified tool. Look no further than how the former Tatsuishi head Minoru, saw Miyo as a golden goose because the Usuba family’s blood is just that valuable. That is also why it was a rule within the Usuba family to marry their kins. It wasn’t mentioned in this episode, but Sumi was actually originally supposed to marry a distant relative.
Which leads to the next bit, Arata’s fixation on Miyo. Good grief, he’s so bloody selfish. He is projecting his frustrations, and deluded himself with imagining that all this time, Miyo had felt the same way as him, hollow because he didn’t have the opportunity carry out his life’s purpose of protecting the maiden of Dream Sight. He is so hung up on not wanting to lose the role he has been waiting to play his entire life, that he simply doesn’t care about how Miyo feels about this situation. He doesn’t get, nor cares that Miyo deeply cares for Kiyoka, and vice versa. It’s all about him. And the reason why Arata was so hostile towards Kiyoka, was also because his role as Miyo’s protector also meant he was supposed to was marry Miyo.
It also doesn’t help that he struck a deal with the Emperor to basically keep Miyo as a caged bird and ensure she doesn’t come into contact with anyone possessing a gift outside of the Usuba family. It was only after Gramps gestured him to let Miyo do what she wants (finally doing something right), and to not worry about the consequences they will be subjected to by the Emperor for breaking the deal, that he finally agreed to let her go and see Kiyoka, under the conditions he goes along with her.
That said, it goes without saying the code the Usuba family follows is an incredibly lonely one. By hiding their true family name, and living in the shadows, this also means they cannot form friendships or romantic relationships outside of their circle. As mentioned earlier, this also means they are only permitted to marry within their family. So for better or worse, Sumi’s difficult decision to sacrifice herself for the family opened the doors to possibilities of change. Of course with their powers so dangerous, it’s understandable why they are determined to keep it in check, but is the trade off worth it for one’s happiness and placement in the world? That is something left up for debate, but I digress.
As for Miyo’s grandfather Yoshiro, the man has certainly made his mistakes, but he has done a far better job of communicating and listening to Miyo’s thoughts and feelings than Arata has. And for that reason, the conversation they had together was very enlightening for her. Miyo was able to learn the complexities of a family dynamics that isn’t driven by spite and hatred that she has only known of her entire life. She was able to learn that despite their differences and his mistakes, he still loves Sumi dearly, and Yoshori deeply regrets for letting his anger get the better of him, and cutting off Sumi from the Usuba family and failure to prioritize his daughter over his family’s code. But most importantly, because she expressed that she couldn’t understand what it means to rely on others, much less what it means to be family. Thanks to that, Yoshiro was able to explain to her that ‘relying on others’ means sharing the burden one cannot carry on their own, and it’s okay to disappoint and anger family from time to time, because if the bond is strong it won’t be broken by something like that. And that’s something so important for Miyo to hear from someone else apart from Kiyoka because it gives her further validation that this is how family and relationships should be like.
It took Miyo a while, but it’s crucial step forward in the right direction that she finally steeled her resolve and has the clarity she wished she had been able to convey in the first place. She deeply regrets her decision to say she didn’t care, and her failure to voice her true feelings. She knows her current predicament of being a caged bird was a result of her actions. We saw how she slowly attempted to take the initiative to seek Kiyoka out herself, but was denied by both Arata and her grandfather. It wasn’t until she heard Kiyoka got hurt in battle and is currently unconscious that made her speak her mind and will not take no for an answer. It’s a similar situation in a sense (though thankfully without violence), where Miyo finds herself in this position where she is being told her what she can’t do what she wants.
However there is a main difference between the two situations that is important to take account of. The first time, Miyo’s nightmares weren’t haunting her the way they were until after the tree with the seal burned down. It was more about voicing her determination to stay by Kiyoka’s side because it was the first place she felt safe and at home at. The second time, what resulted her answer that led her to the current predicament was her insecurity and fear she’d be a burden to Kiyoka. She didn’t understand that Kiyoka wanted her to rely on him a bit, share her burdens so she wouldn’t have to cope with her on her own. That’s the main difference between the two. Now that Miyo understands that, she wants to return to his side and communicate her feelings properly, and most importantly do whatever it takes with her powers to save Kiyoka. And speaking of, the main silver-lining of Arata accompanying her to see Kiyoka is that he is the only one present who can guide Miyo how to use her powers for the very first time to save Kiyoka. So whether we like it or not, this is something we do have to be grateful for.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is Miyo’s character. After the last episode, I saw a lot of people getting frustrated and impatient with Miyo’s behaviour and it made me think about how differently the execution was between the anime and the novel. I also just got my copy of volume 4 of the manga (which has been incredibly faithful to the novel), so I was able to compare between the tree even of how last week’s episode scenes were executed. There were definitely some key things that I think might have helped maybe convey to members of the audience who can’t help but feel impatient and annoyed with the way Miyo had behaved last week if they had included the things they opted to cut out on– which were Miyo’s insecurities and trauma haunting her 24/7. These things didn’t just happen in her nightmares, but during the day whenever she would do things, including during her studies with Hazuki. I think it’s important to highlight the kind of uphill battle she is fighting against, and it would be foolish to think she would magically understand what it means to rely on others. Miyo doesn’t know what it means to be family, but it’s unlikely that she would have had this kind of conversation with Hazuki or Kiyoka because there isn’t the kind of tension and complicated relationship between them like there had been between Sumi and her father. That’s why the conversation about what it means to rely on others was so enlightening to Miyo. It gave the much needed clarity what Kiyoka had been asking her all this time.
I do want to add though, for anyone who harbours doubts or concerns for Miyo’s growth: The author has been incredibly consistent in regards to making characters learn from their mistakes made in previous volumes, and we see the lessons learned being applied to the following volumes.
With that said, overall I think it was an okay episode, definitely not the strongest of the lot, but at the very least it hit me in the feels when it mattered most. I think it was a combination of feeling a bit rushed and clashing with my hazy memory of the way certain scenes panned out in the novel. After I finished finish this post, I pulled out the books and I flipped through both the novel (vol 2) and manga (vol 4) to see the differences, and yeah there were a lot re-arrangements. Not the end of the world of course, and certainly not enough to bother me as a novel reader, but I think it does go without saying I’m enjoying it more because I have already gotten the full context of things that have been otherwise left out (as mentioned in the above).
Next week is the final episode, man I’m going to miss it. I do hope we get a second season! I’m looking forward to seeing Miyo rescue Kiyoka! GO MIYO GO!