Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Episode 5 Higehiro


Whatever Higehiro's issues might be, it's consistently cool when a show can create an effective, fulfilling scene of TV out of what essentially sums a few discussions. They're not even heated or especially tense conversations, either; this is very different from Attack on Titan's recent “Declaration of War”, that's for certain. Instead, “Reality” simply follows up on the kinda cliffhanger from last week and sees Airi coming home to Yoshida's to talk shop with Sayu. At a certain point, Yoshida acquiesces to the girls' need for some private time, so he heads out to do some grocery shopping, whereupon he runs into Yuzuha, who gets him roped into some Real Talk™, too.

That is basically it! It's a demonstration of the reliably great profundity and cares that Higehiro shows with its composition, taking into account how well the scene winds up functioning, particularly when this scene by and by demonstrates that the show's qualities totally don't lie in its visuals. Despite the often awkward and stiff presentation of these parallel discussions, though, Higehiro wins out by continuing to avoid the easy way out and ensuring that its protagonists treat each other like real, reasonable, and reasonably intelligent people. It's just…very refreshing, you know?

Leading is the headliner of the scene, where Airi gets probably as blunt as conceivable with Sayu. I love that literally nobody in the show buys Yoshida's half-assed explanation of knowing Sayu as a kid, which means Airi can get right to business and figure out who Sayu is, what her relationship with Yoshida entails, and how she might best assist in Sayu's messy journey towards self-actualization. Their whole conversation hits all of the points that I was hoping it would hit, too: Airi understands (and believes, so far as we've seen) the platonic nature of Sayu and Yoshida's arrangement, but she's also not naïve enough to miss Sayu's obvious romantic attachment to her new mentor. Not only that, she plainly addresses how, even though Sayu seems to have found a genuinely safe and nurturing environment in Yoshida's home, the girl cannot stay there indefinitely. She's still a child, and no matter how game Yoshida is to serve as Sayu's adoptive older brother or whatever, there is inevitably going to come a time when the wrong person catches wind of the fact that Yoshida is still kinda-sorta committing some crimes by harboring an underage runaway.

All the more significantly, Airi contends that Sayu won't ever really develop and recuperate in the event that she can't acknowledge and stand up to whatever made her flee from home in any case, so exploiting Yoshida's benevolence will just do the two of them hurt, over the long haul. This is a slightly trickier position to untangle since neither the adults in Sayu's life nor the audience knows exactly why Sayu ran away to begin with. Was she being abused, or neglected? Are her parents actually dead? Is she in some kind of legal trouble? Based on the flashes of memory we saw last week, it seems like the suicide of a friend or peer is involved, somehow; the point being, we don't actually have any guarantee that Sayu would be safe back at home.

I get it, however; the scene doesn't really have the opportunity or fortitude to separate the convoluted way towards treatment and lawful insight that a certifiable variant of Sayu would need, and I don't think Higehiro is going down the way of turning into a nuanced court dramatization or anything. Besides, the bond that Airi and Sayu develop here is sweet, especially when Sayu flat out asks Airi if she loves Yoshida (to which Airi answers, “Yes. I'm not interested in anyone else.”). This girl has needed a hug and a solid cry session for a while now, and I think it's objectively good that Sayu was able to connect with an adult that she didn't have a complicated emotional attachment.

Yoshida and Yuzuha's visit is more confounded, normally, since Yuzuha is fundamentally attempting to be Yoshida's holistic mentor and dispassionate companion, while likewise plainly needing him to respond affections for her. As well as obtusely inquiring as to whether he would have her over for a casual sexual encounter, Yuzuha concedes to fundamentally following Yoshida adequately long to discover him taking Airi back to his place, despite the fact that Sayu is still there. Does she want him to kick Sayu to the curb and pursue Airi, or is she secretly hoping that the situation implodes so she can swoop in to claim his affections? Probably a little of Column A, and a little of Column B, plus a healthy mix of genuinely wanting what's best for him. The stalking is a problem, sure, but I think Yuzuha really does mean well, the same as most everyone else in the show.

In truth, none of these individuals ought to date one another, period. Yoshida is Airi's lesser and Yuzuha's senior busy working, and it is a wide range of touchy for both of these ladies to be as associated with Yoshida as they are; this entire love triangle would have been an enormous wreck even before Yoshida took in a genuinely unstable and confounded little youngster. Though Higehiro has continually surprised me with how well it has handled its tricky subject matter, this isn't even the halfway mark of the season. I can only assume that there is some manner of other shoes that are just waiting to drop. Let's just hope it's the kind of dramatic turn that will enrich Higehiro's story and make for compelling drama, and not the kind that would, you know, ruin the show completely.

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