Aoi Hana – 5
It sure feels nice to watch Aoi Hana again! Wish good subs would come out quicker.
But, wow, I nearly forgot how fantastic this series’ visual style is. It’s not really super bold or in your face; there is more of a subtle, quiet beauty to it that meshes perfectly with how the story unfolds. It reminds me of the impressionists and post-impressionists I studied way back when in Art History during high school. Always really liked that style of painting. Even little scenes like Fumi sitting in the balcony watching Sugimito rehearse for Wuthering Heights are interesting to watch because the visual style is such a pleasure to look at.
This episode really makes me wonder what Sugimoto was like way back when she presumably had her heart broken by the drama teacher. Was she always this flirty, was she more normal, or was she a shy Fumi-type? We have not really seen that much of her past — Fumi believes she is difficult to talk to, so there is an active blocking off of herself there. Sugimoto does want Fumi to open up to her, however. Like Fumi, I always get such mixed signals from Sugimoto. The feelings from her past still cling to her. The “Do you remember your first love?” question is important. Sugimoto does remember. But, at the same time, she seems to really enjoy being with Fumi, at least based off her general physical cues. Then again, she is a lead actress for a reason . . . and she is playing Heathcliff, no less. Never read Wuthering Heights, myself, but I do understand that Heathcliff has a rep for being both passionate and cruel.
What really strikes me about Sugimoto is that she is kind of cruel in a passive/unknowing way, particularly with Ikumi. It is revealed late in the episode that, after being rejected by Sugimoto, Ikumi asked Sugimoto to treat her like just another fan. But it seems to me that Sugimoto (maybe unknowingly) goes out of her way to ramp up the playful flirting with her fans when Ikumi is around. It is almost as if she is making a point to show Ikumi that she can treat her like just another person; however, her behavior is doing more to rub salt into Ikumi’s wounds than it is to make Ikumi feel more normal and comfortable around Sugimoto. Whether she is doing it on purpose or not is debatable, but it comes off as rather cold to me. Sugimoto can be quite strong, loving and caring, and she can also be quite harsh and hurtful.
The bit of the elementary school play Ikumi and Acchan see seems to be a metaphor for how Ikumi handles the tricky relationship between herself and Sugimoto. She knows Sugimoto will not reciprocate her feelings, so she tries to fight off those feelings by being strong and perhaps immunizing herself to Sugimoto by being around her in non-loving ways a lot of the time. But like the girl in the play, Ikumi can only protect herself so much — she has too few thorns to be able to completely fight off her feelings for Ikumi, so her actions are really masochistic in a way. And . . . I think it is the young boy who barely realizes the girl has only a few thorns to protect herself from danger, and that he was too young to know how to love her. Could he represent Sugimoto? Maybe she once had feelings for Ikumi but didn’t know how to act upon them? Or maybe there is just something else I am not seeing.
Fumi is also struggling with Sugimoto’s flirty ways. She likes Sugimoto, but she is not really comfortable with flaunting the relationship, because she sees how much it hurts Ikumi, who genuinely feels something for Sugimoto and is not just sucking up to her. And, in the back of her mind, Fumi can sense some knowing distance between Sugimoto and herself. Sugimoto wants to get closer, but Fumi can feel a sort of lingering presence. She feels liked; at the same time, however, she can feel that there is another in Sugimoto’s heart. That makes her all the more tentative around Sugimoto, whom she really likes but cannot fully commit to because she can’t fully grasp Sugimoto’s complexities, and the complexities of all the relationships around her.
Good episode here. I like how blurry the relationship between Fumi and Sugimoto is. There are times when you can sense they are a near perfect couple, and there are other times when you can feel the frostiness of the distance between them. I also just love all the subtle physical cues in this series. When Sugimoto plays around with Fumi’s pigtails, it feels like something real, and not like something for Sugimoto to do just because it looks cute. (Even though it is really cute!)