Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Retro Review: Oniisama E (Dear Brother) episode 12

This episode enters right where we left off again, with Rei hugging Nanako then sinking to the floor because she still has a fever. Nanako is like "????" so Rei shows her the doll, and I guess she is at least aware that Nanako isn't the doll. Rei clearly hasn't read Love Vibes if she thinks this approach is going to win her over.

Then because, at this point, Rei fainting is like Old Faithful, she faints again and Nanako pulls her up and tucks her into bed, wiping her face with some water.

Inside Rei's head, we see that she's swimming with her doll, and riding in a horse-drawn cart in what I assume is a French countryside because one of this show's Rose of Versailles-est music themes is playing.
We also see Fukiko, meeting her.

Then she wakes up and Nanako, unaware of the blighted wasteland that is her fridge, offers to make something. She shortly discovers that all Rei has to eat is some expired food that should no longer even be refrigerated because there no electricity (and yet somehow there is light in the fridge- that's my job, ruining emotional moments),
and starts tearing up imagining what it's like to live in Rei's situation.

Kaoru arrives because Nanako called her. She does not seem to find Rei's French greeting as charming as most women with any trace of queerness in them people would and slaps her, being like "Whatchu doing??? Fukiko hates you and likes toying with you and you should lose that damn bracelet that reminds you of her."
But before she can chuck it into the canal outside, 
Rei sure wants that bracelet. I've seen Fukiko described as an influence on Utena's Juri, and I can see it (much as I love Juri), but Rei's storyline is feeling more similar to Juri's, what with her having a jewelry memento of a girl who causes her a lot of grief that she can't quite get rid of.

When I replayed this scene to my girlfriend, after being like "wtf", she said "Could you imagine an actual seventeen year-old girl being like *imitates dagger-throwing*. Someone should totally reshoot the best scenes of Oniisama E, but with actual seventeen year-old girls." IMO, a live-action Oniisama E thing of some kind would be amazing.

Despite Kaoru trying to tell her her relationship with Fukiko is hurting her, Rei puts the bracelet back over the slits on her wrist and peacefully ensconces herself on her bed, reciting the first words she used to describe her dream of meeting Fukiko. It feels like this evening is not the first time she's cycled through it.

Kaoru tells Nanako to think of what just happened as nothing more than a dream,
but obviously it's a tad hard to forget your classmates having a mirror-breaking, dagger-throwing fight over the bracelet that covers the slits on one's wrist and reminds her of the girl who puppeteers her.

Kaoru cuts get-well apple slices for Rei, which is cute, and tells Rei off again for her masochistic devotion to Fukiko. As great a friend as Kaoru is, her approach to getting Rei to listen is clearly not working. If she wants to be process-y enough to function in a queer lady ensemble, she needs to bring over some appropriately angsty Tegan and Sarah to play, gently hold Rei's hands, and have a heart-to-heart with her about every nuance of what she is feeling. Bonus points for commiserating with her as a fellow "womyn" with a "y."

Nanako calls Fukiko and gives her a credible fake excuse for not returning to the study group, but Fukiko didn't become the head of the evil Yamayurikai with a bad bullshit detector.

Nanako wakes up early the next morning to make Rei a feel better picnic basket, and it's one of those sitcomy scenes where a girl is doing something special for a boy she likes and gives her parents a fake reason for it and her dad believes her but you can tell her mom caught on and is like "Aww, my baby has a crush", except it's a girl instead of a boy. =)
However tearjerky this storyline ultimately is, I can't help thinking how valuable Nanako's thoughts- and tone- during this scene might have been to some self-hating queer teenager watching it.

Rei doesn't answer the door, so Nanako writes and rewrites to compose the perfect note and leaves it in front of her door with the basket. She even leaves an origami crane as an extra "get well" touch.

At school, Mariko fills Nanako in on what happened at the study group after she left, and Nanako asks Tomoko to corroborate her fib that she got soaked and went to her house nearby the night before.

Nanako finds Fukiko in what looks like an equestrian country club on school grounds
to return her umbrella, and Fukiko calls out her fake excuse by telling her not to associate with Rei. Her slapping her own hand with her riding crop is a subtle bit of symbolism.

Nanako finds Kaoru to check how Rei was last time she saw her, and we see that Kaoru told Fukiko to meet her at the same time and place Fukiko told Rei to meet her. It would be funny if Kaoru never showed up.

We also see Rei lying in her apartment, her cordless phone (how did she charge it with the electricity cut?) counting the time next to her as the food lies untouched outside her apartment.

Nanako decides to visit Rei's apartment, but sees the Kaoru vs Fukiko confrontation. Kaoru tells Fukiko what you would expect, until she drops this.

Next up, we'll get a much better idea of why Rei's relationship with Fukiko is the way it is, and more daggers.

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