Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Episode 4 Higehiro


 Something I am truly appreciating about Higehiro so far is that, generally, the characters are on the whole awesome about advising each other what's on their psyches. Not Sayu, obviously; if being a runaway teenager with abandonment issues wasn't enough for her to deal with, she's also got some serious trauma she's working through based on “Part-Time Job's” final scene, but we'll get to her later. The rest of the cast, though, consists mostly of functional adults, who are able to engage in the usual rom-com shenanigans without having to get completely lost in melodramatic teenage bullshit. Sure, they've mostly just traded up for messy, melodramatic adult bullshit, but that is an area that has been woefully underrepresented in anime for some time now, so I'll take what I can get.

To begin with, however, something light: Sayu made another companion at work! Her name is Asami Yuuki, and she continues in the stupendous practice of energetic anime lady buddies that solitary need to spend a solitary shift at the nearby odds and ends shop with the champion of the show before they choose to be BFFs. It's commonplace stuff, however, it functions admirably with Higehiro's entire arrangement.The minute that Asami discovers that Sayu is living with an “older brother” type that is nine years her senior and definitely not her brother, she decides to scope out Yoshida for herself, just to make sure he isn't, you know, a sex pest or anything. It's a breezy sequence, and pretty cute, mostly because Asami also doesn't waste too much time with shenanigans. She plays along with the pair's lame lie about being childhood friends that are also nearly a decade apart in age, but she quickly confronts Yoshida to try and figure out what the actual deal is. His answer – “If she wants to say that I'm her brother, then that's what I will be” – is as apt a description of his dynamic with Sayu as anything we've heard so far.

The seriously fascinating piece of the scene comes when Airi asks Yoshida out on another after-work absolutely not-a-date when she gets somewhat dubious of how long he's been spending messaging and remaining at home recently. After last week, I was already getting a bit wary of how long the show was going to drag out her façade of not being into Yoshida when she totally is, but to my surprise, the two hash things out quite clearly. Yoshida is understandably confused at why the woman who explicitly rejected him in favor of another man would keep asking him out, and Airi confesses that she made that whole excuse up. There never was another man, and we later learn that she's never slept with another guy before, period. She obviously has a crush on Yoshida, but she never felt that “the timing” was right, so she panicked when he asked her out, despite wanting to say yes. Hell, when Yoshida half-jokingly suggests that she sleep with him to prove this isn't some prank at his expense, she basically says that yes, she'd one-hundred-percent like to lose her virginity to him. Even when he walks that back, he does manage to secure a promise that, someday, when she's ready, Airi will ask him to be her boyfriend.

Truly, "The ambiguous guarantee of sometimes being asked out by the young lady that has effectively conceded her heartfelt emotions and communicated a longing to do the dreadful" is just a stage over the standard anguished pining of secondary school sentiment anime, however, it's a stage no different either way! The bigger complication, obviously, comes from the fact that if Yoshida were ever to bring Airi home, he'd have to explain why he is currently sharing a one-bedroom apartment with a homeless teenager that also cooks and cleans for him. Yuzuha is already weirdly cool with the arrangement, but surely the dam will break sooner or later, right? Yoshida and Airi's arrangement isn't something that can be permanent, nor should it be. We see that, when Yoshida leaves Sayu alone for dinner on account of the date, she is once again crippled with loneliness and fear, and some flashes to memories that are clearly very painful to her cause her to vomit up her dinner completely. Yoshida has undoubtedly been a positive influence on Sayu's life, but what this girl really needs is a stable home and some kind of family or support structure that doesn't consist of people that Sayu might fall in love with.

Of course, the line between lighthearted comedy and dream is in every case exceptionally slight, and maybe Higehiro is developing to a closure wherein Yoshida can turn into a genuine sort of family (and not in the "PornHub's Top 50 Hottest Videos" way). When Sayu is at first crushed to think that Yoshida is asking her to sleep somewhere else so he can bring his new girlfriend (?) home, Yoshida corrects her: Airi wants to meet Sayu herself. In the real world, this would probably be the worst possible idea that Yoshida ever could have come up with, but in Cutesy Anime Land, I'll buy it. If Higehiro is actually going to let the increasingly complicated love triangle between Yoshida and his coworkers play out without involving Sayu herself, then maybe we might all end up getting lucky, and Sayu will score herself a weird little found family in the process. Just, for God's sake, someone please get the poor kid an actual therapist.

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