Monday, January 19, 2015

Retro Review: Oniisama E (Dear Brother) episode 19

As you can tell from the screencap above, Nanako's confession to Rei went super-well. We start with a flashback to the confession at end of the previous episode, before we get Rei's awkward non-reaction. Then title, then Takehiko and his friend Takashi talking about Nanako and Rei playing hooky. Takehiko reminds Takashi they cut classes together in high school, making the previously livid Takashi be like "I too committed such youthful follies, it is true."

Takashi asks Takehiko about Kaoru, and Takehiko's pleasant nostalgia becomes sad. Takashi's like "Are you sure things are good?", and Takehiko is still melancholy, and hmm, I wonder who Kaoru's lost love is.

Nanako and Rei arrive at school for afternoon classes. To avoid further awkwardness, Nanako sprints ahead while monologuing into the wind.

I guess someone got lazy drawing Nanako's feet.

Mariko and Tomoko ambush her. Apparently Mariko convinced Tomoko that Nanako being absent from school one day is reason enough to call Nanako's house multiple times. Luckily for Nanako, she knew her mom was going to be out today and has a plausible excuse, so she isn't busted. (Granted, she probably would have gone with Rei in the excitement of the moment regardless.)

Nanako is distracted in French class, mulling over the morning's events. My friend Mathilde, who is a native speaker of yuri's favorite language, assured me that this show's French sounds as awkward to her as its English does to me.

Cue montage of Nanako finishing her classes and taking the bus from school while telling us she can't stop thinking about that morning. Tomoko prods her into paying attention to her surroundings, and they browse shops.

Apparently Nanako is a glass half full kind of gal. She doesn't expect anything beyond the time she spent with Rei that morning, but she's so happy she got it, she drops 3,000 yen on a bouquet of flowers.

Nuance puts a couple in Tomoko's hair and they go up the Tokyo Tower, where Tomoko punches a hole in Nanako's excuse for missing class. She doesn't make anything of it, even when Nanako guiltily tries to discuss it, since she is glad Nanako is finally happy after months of Sorority hell. Nanako comes down from her high because Tomoko leaving means she has to deal with everything bothering her alone. Tomoko stays a bit longer as a result.

At Château Ichinomiya, Takashi arrives home while Fukiko plays the piano, pouring himself some fancy rich people wine from their wine cabinet.

He asks Fukiko how Rei is doing in school, and she gives the polite version of "Hell if I know."

He tells her about the hooky, and when she doesn't respond, is like "You always pretend you don't care." Takashi, you innocent lamb, you don't know the half of it. He says the hooky involved some first-year named Nanako, does she know her? Oh shit, yes she does. Fukiko asks if he knows Nanako, but when he's like "Why do you ask?" pretends it was nothing to keep up the facade of not being a driving force in a clusterfuck of drama. He hears her slam her piano keys after he leaves, but his reaction isn't shown.

Walking home, Nanako angsts about her confession to Rei being her first time expressing feelings like that to someone. Her parents surprise her with a dress that reminds me how much what these characters wear looks like they shop on Modcloth.

When she's alone, she sits in front of her mirror to angst over what Rei could be thinking.

The next morning, despite Fukiko not wanting Rei to have fun that isn't approved by her, Rei practices with Kaoru and the rest of the basketball team, being squealed over by fangirls as per usual.

Hot though she thinks Rei is while playing, Nanako watches sadly. As Kaoru and Rei leave the locker room discussing the coming game later, Rei notices Nanako watching her from behind a tree

and is not impressed.

Nanako slumps down, feeling like she ruined their friendship, and Kaoru asks Rei if Nanako's her groupie.

Nanako clearly sucks at being stealthy.

Rei is like "I don't what you're talking about", and Kaoru doesn't push the subject. If Kaoru and Tomoko sat down for coffee, they would bond over dealing with best friends who harbor a lot of secret romantic drama. Unlike Tomoko, Kaoru has her own, though- as evidenced by Rei stopping her in her tracks by saying Nanako knows Takehiko. Rei tells her about the park encounter, and she pretends her and Takehiko's history is water under the bridge.

In English class, Nanako translates a poem that reminds her of Rei, and starts crying before she can finish. (As far as I can tell, the poem isn't a reference. If I'm wrong, please let me know!)

Having seen what happened, Kaoru invites Nanako to a cafe after school.

They laugh over a lame joke Kaoru makes, then Nanako starts crying and beating herself up for crying. Kaoru knows better than to be a dick about it, telling her she isn't "okashii"/weird.

She also warns that Nanako is better off not being hung up on Rei for obvious reasons.

Kaoru expounds her philosophy on love, 

making it clear to Nanako that she has some baggage.

More hard-earned life advice from Kaoru.

In a way it's an optimistic speech, though, because Kaoru makes the point that life is short in the grand scheme, but we still make the most out of it by seeking love, and even if love, like life, doesn't last, it can be worth experiencing. ...Although not every fleeting thing is great, i.e. dying in high school because of a terminal disease. (My girlfriend: "So this is basically anime The Fault in Our Stars.") Either way, Nanako is moved by it. She has good reason to be emotional since she's not only seeing Kaoru's most vulnerable side, this was her first time directly talking to someone about her feelings for Rei.

Fukiko calls Rei late at night to reminisce about a childhood memory,

and we see that even as children, they looked like Rococo nobility.

Here my girlfriend and I discuss how we would describe Rei's style, and I settle on Dandy-Butch. This scene makes it clear that even though Fukiko has a more controlled facade than Rei, she feels like she feels she needs Rei as much as Rei feels like she needs her, however unhealthy their interaction based on those feelings is.
Going from the ominous panning after Fukiko says that, you can tell the director doesn't approve.

Back in Nanako's room, she narrates to Takehiko that she isn't sure confessing to Rei was the right thing, but she couldn't suppress it.
The point of this episode is whether love is worth the pain it can cause, and Nanako's answer- both here and in the series overall- seems to be yes.

Tune in next time to see Fukiko be pointlessly jealous and lock Nanako in the Sorority basement to keep her from going to Takehiko's college fair. 

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