Not all stories about love are pretty, and this one is the definition of bittersweet. Hanabi has a crush on her neighbor, while Mugi is in love with a teacher. And, perchance, they meet.
— SPOILERS AHEAD —
When I first heard of this anime, I planned to give it a pass. It sounded fucked up enough that I didn’t want to touch it. But, a friend of mine insisted that I watched it because he believed I would find it interesting. Thus, for the sake of discussion, here I am. I was right, yet I’m glad he convinced me to watch it.
Mugi and Hanabi’s relationship begins and is established because they are lonely. The people they love don’t seem to have any interest in them, and for better or worse, they decide to not share their feelings, clingying to those little inconsequential moments and the hope that perhaps they are wrong, perhaps it will change.
We are quickly introduced to more characters that are in similar situations, with the exception of Akane, which I’ll refer to later. Mugi’s childhood friend Noriko is in love with him. Throughout the story there is friction between her and Hanabi because, on one hand, she is in relationship with Mugi, while on the other Noriko wishes she were the one being used. We also have Sanae “Ecchan” Ebato, who has a long-lasting crush on Hanabi.
So, there is something I have to make clear: there is no grand statement or finale to this story. Arguably, there is no finale. It just sort of ends. And this is fine.
This is a vignette into these characters lives as they deal with and juggle their pain and loneliness. They do things that I kept thinking to myself were terrible ideas, and I’m somewhat surprised they came out relatively okay after the entire ordeal. We see their desires, their needs exposed and their misguided attempts at improving their own situation, in sometimes desperate attempts to numb out the feelings they carry in their hearts and they don’t know how to let go off. They are willing to dellude themselves for the sake of a few seconds of a fantasy that is much better than what reality has to offer.
There is a common theme throughout the series. Noriko and Sanae both say it out loud, and even Mugi, by going out with Akane despite knowing she’s merely using him, which is: if we are going to pretend, then why not pretend with me? The answer to that question is obvious to most people who have some experience in these matters. But, being who they are, being in the pain they are, they must ask. Can’t we pretend a little?
Pretending, of course, is complicated. Much like the real thing, them need somebody willing to pretend with, and, unlike the real thing, it’s not going to satisfy them. They try, anyway, and I think that by the end we see some growth out of the characters by way of how they deal with the fallout: Hanabi and Mugi decide to at least cut their relationship cleanly. Ecchan, who still cares very much for Hanabi, comes back much better composed after some time alone, with some hope for their friendship to continue – even if not the same as it was before. And, well, Hanabi will be attending Narumi’s marriage.
Then, there is Akane. Out of the entire, she doesn’t fit the theme and also is the only one I consider to be a terrible person. Not because she sook relationships with people out of interest, although it is troublesome to pursue relationships with students, but because of her interactions with Hanabi which steem from her world view. She’s selfish, sad person who seeks self-validation out of the interest others have in her, forcing herself into the center of attention by way of manipulation. And she knows it.
Narumi marries her, despite knowing she is going to cheat on him and pursue other men for the sake of trying to feel something. And it is in the scene when Narumi proposes to Akane that the show changes tone slightly. It is not much, but instead of a downward spirtal into the abyss, it presents a way out. As if a pressure valve was opened. She, internally, realises that she feels something out of her interactions with Narumi. At least, something meaningful enough to make her want to try a marriage.
Mugi then accepts the news of Akane’s marriage, and we cut back to more mundane, simple events as there simply isn’t much else. It is only out of chance that Mugi, Hanabi and Sanae have some sort of closure, unlike Mugi and Hanabi’s confession to thier respective crushes.
It is brought to an end. Each teenagers is going to searching for love, and they’ll probably get hurt again as feelings grow for people who don’t share them. But they’ll to search.