Aoi Hana – 10
Damn. Best episode of the series so far. That screenshot says it all — Sugimoto got told by Fumi.
But saying that, I must also add that I really appreciate how understated everything is in this episode. There are no overblown dramatics at Kazusa’s wedding. Sugimoto’s flashback about how she fell for the drama teacher is actually quite reserved. And Fumi putting Sugimoto in her place is a strong, quiet moment. Fumi does not flip her shit telling Sugimoto off; instead, she lays it out for her straight and true. Sugimoto is selfish, and she needs to grow up before someone like Fumi can accept her.
But even if Sugimoto is selfish — which she is, though not quite as much now as she is in the beginning of the series — I find it difficult to completely hate her. She is just a misguided kid who made the wrong choices in love. It happens to the best of us. I think her flashback shows that her biggest problem is not so much selfishness as it is arrogance. She believes she is above everyone else, but she acts out just like any other kid. As Sugimoto states, the thought that she could be similar to Ikumi — a person who constantly fawns over someone she cannot have — never crosses her mind, and yet as she really looks at herself, she can see that’s how she is: Just another lovestruck person whose emotions briefly derail her. (I kind of wish I had delved more into the Ikumi/Sugimoto comparison myself now!)
Because Sugimoto tries to slip back into her calm, cool “princely” character, it is a bit difficult for me to see whether she believes she actually has a shot at getting Fumi back again. At least Sugimoto can see that Fumi has legit reasons to be pissed off at her, and she can reflect on how terribly she acted around Fumi. But even the screenshot up there is not completely telling. Is Sugimoto shocked because Fumi actually turns her down, or is it because she realizes it is finally over between her and Fumi? I hesitantly say it is the latter, just because it is a kind of poetic justice for Sugimoto: She gets dumped in just as harsh a way as she dumped Fumi, except Fumi’s is stronger and more steely than Sugimoto’s more emotional, spur-of-the-moment dumping. (It’s a nice irony that I am just realizing right now — you’d expect the method of dumping to be switched based on Fumi and Sugimoto’s respective characters at the beginning of the series.)
Even though it is a harsh way to do it, I think Fumi makes the right choice by putting her foot down and moving on from Sugimoto. Whether or not Sugimoto x Fumi may have worked out is not the point — Fumi is a stronger person for not just giving in to someone who hurt her in the past and comes back with some sweet words. I truly believe Fumi when she says she is over Sugimoto. There is a resolve in the way she speaks that is just not there in the outset of Aoi Hana. As a dramatic device, I absolutely love the dual conversation thing Fumi and Sugimoto have going on. Fumi says, “If you have someone you love, please focus on them” and Sugimoto replies, “And what if they aren’t interested?” to which Fumi says, “Then please give up gracefully.” They’re simultaneously addressing Sugimoto’s crush on the drama teacher and her attempt to get Fumi back. Love. It.
(Speaking of dramatic devices, I also love using Fumi’s conspicuous absence at the wedding ceremony as a way to heighten the drama between her and Sugimoto. That totally sucked me in.)
To jump to a separate topic, I like how the wedding brings the Sugimoto sisters closer together. The revelation of Kuri’s love letter to the drama teacher is both hilarious (Kuri’s reaction to it cracks me up) and it gives Kuri and Sugimoto something in common. Sugimoto gets a win over Kuri, and they understand each other a bit more. And I also like Kazusa prodding Sugimoto forward in her own way. Her desire to have Sugimoto congratulate her is less a mean, ditzy thing to say than it is a way to push Sugimoto into moving on. Sugimoto’s unrequited crush on the drama teacher (who is way too nice for his own good) affects her life in a negative way. She needs to close the book on it to finally be happy. It doesn’t help her get Fumi back, but hopefully the lessons she gets from this will help Sugimoto find the person who will ultimately make her happy.
Once again, a great episode. With the way this puts a nail into the Sugimoto x Fumi storyline, I expect the finale to be a more quiet affair. Not really sure how the relationship teases will be resolved there, either. But I’m looking forward to it!