Sunday, May 25, 2014

Retro Review: Oniisama E (Dear Brother) episode 7

Another day, another instance of Nanako's teacher being useless and Mariko trying to protect Nanako while Aya is an asshole about Nanako's Sorority membership- this time by throwing her a note and leaving a package full of razors in Nanako's desk.
While wondering why she's being bullied when she never did anything to cause it, Nanako wanders into the school clock tower. In one of the best scenes from this episode, she sees the wall going up the stairs scrawled with messages from years of students who went there to mull over their own problems. The point of this scene is great in its own right, and it also reminds me a little of a sort of hidden alcove I found where students left messages about their hopes at my college.
This episode is already getting pretty Gothic what with the sadness and the wandering in the clock tower lit only by stained glass, but it gets moreso when Nanako investigates a noise in the attic (is it too obvious to wonder if Ikeda Riyoko had Jane Eyre in mind for this scene?) and finds Rei being her Byronic self and chilling with a cigarette.
And, um, this.
And these.
And a silhouette that looks like Fukiko where the knives are stuck.
Naturally Nanako is like "wtf." She hands Rei the knives and Rei throws one at the silhouette's heart area again. Nanako plainly asks Rei if the silhouette is based on Fukiko and Rei answers yes, but when Nanako asks why, Rei just starts quoting "It rains in my heart" ("Il pleure dans mon coeur") by the French poet Paul Verlaine (this is an Ikeda Riyoko series, so of course the reference is French) and leaves.

Nanako wonders what is going on between Rei and Fukiko, as well as about the origin of Rei's nickname, Saint-Juste.

On the commute to school the next day, Nanako and Tomoko are in the same train car, and Nanako earnestly asks Tomoko if she can call her that evening. Tomoko completely ignores her, and I kind of want to punch her for not wondering by now if Mariko manipulated her perspective at all.  Especially given this.

Some conversation between Mariko and Nanako about Nanako going to the library and Mariko picking some cloth for their home economics projects, and then a part with Rei and Fukiko that visually references the clock tower scene, what with the stained glass and the smoking again.
That look isn't sadistic at all.
Poor Rei.

As much as I like Rei, flaming weirdo that she is, Kaoru is a jovial breath of fresh air. She runs into Nanako in the library, helps her find what she needs to learn about Rei's nickname, and they talk about reading and Kaoru's friendship with Rei. And there's a great flashback to how Kaoru and Rei became friends. Rei smiles in it, also! The only person we've seen Rei earnestly smile at so far has been Kaoru. I'm not sure why I never romance-shipped them instead of friendshipping them.

Like Youko dragging Sachiko into the Yamayurikai, Kaoru drafted Rei into the basketball club because she seemed happier when she participated in it. Kaoru admits that as close as she and Rei are, even she doesn't fully understand where Rei's coming from, though.

And Tomoko redeems herself by charging to Nanako's defense when she sees Aya and her friends bullying Nanako.
And they make up.

In her room, Nanako reads about Rei's namesake, the French Revolution's Saint-Juste, and ponders the similarities between them. I like how this scene bridges a connection between this series and the setting of Rose of Versailles. Different though this series and RoV are, they have some very similar themes- but I'll discuss that more as it becomes more apparent in this series.

I also appreciate that this is a show that can do a full-body pan of its female protagonist lying down without my being dubious of its intent at all.

Because of the resolution of Nanako's fight with Tomoko, this episode is the most feel-good in a while. Savor it, because up next the show starts delving more into Mariko's life.

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