Thursday, January 22, 2015

Retro Review: Oniisama E (Dear Brother) episode 22

Welcome to Oniisama E, Natsuyasumi-hen. We've seen some of the skeletons in Fukiko's closet, but primarily from Rei's perspective. These next few episodes will take us down the rabbit hole of what Fukiko's perspective is like.

We open with Mariko and Nanako in the Sorority house, being praised for their mad flower-arranging skills by Fukiko. Fukiko asks if they have summer holiday plans, and Mariko is like "No, Mistress, tell us what you want." Fukiko wants to bring them to her summer villa in the countryside to help her prepare something for her birthday party, and Mariko is like
The episode then switches back and forth for a bit between Nanako being irritated at Mariko while they take the train to Fukiko's villa, since they planned to travel somewhere with Tomoko, and the aftermath of Mariko's promise to Fukiko before they leave. Nanako protested that she's traveling with Tomoko anyway, but she still winds up on that train, since doubtless a trip with Tomoko would provide less drama fuel. Even though Nanako profusely apologizes for the change of plans, Tomoko is understandably upset, but tells her she might be forgiven for the right souvenir. Despite her irritation, Nanako is charmed by the surroundings where she and Mariko are going.
(My girlfriend Amy: "God, so many -ko names." Those sure were extra-popular then.) A driver brings Fukiko and her two righthand women Borgia and Mona Lisa. Fun fact: Borgia, the one with her hair up, is voiced by Shinohara Emi, who played Makoto in the original Sailor Moon anime. And Fukiko played a Sailor Moon villain. lol Esmeraude from Sailor Moon R.
Fukiko gets a key from a maid named Mineko, asks for privacy, and walks upstairs to whatever she needs it for as Mineko watches her with concern. (Amy: "There's a Mineko now?")
Fukiko enters a room upstairs, and
Yup, totes normal room, nothing weird going on here.

It looks like a childhood room.
Everything is as it should be.
But... oh?

What... what is this. What the hell is this, Mineko. How could you not leave EVERY item in this room exactly as it was when you last cleaned it. How could you break the illusion that no time has passed at all. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD MY LIFE IS,  MINEKO, DO YOU.

Nanako and Mariko then arrive, and a butler shows them to where Borgia and Mona Lisa are having tea. Borgia promptly congratulates them for the experience of being invited to Fukiko's villa.
Since Fukiko is on a walk, Borgia and Mona Lisa orient Nanako and Mariko with what they're supposed to do, which is write and address the 300 invitations Fukiko needs to have mailed for her birthday party in the next couple days. In other words, they're basically Fukiko's unpaid interns.
Isn't it a bit late to send invitations? Amy suggests that Fukiko can afford to have mail carriers for each individual letter who will ensure it is delivered the day it's sent out.

Nanako takes a break by taking a walk through the beautiful grounds (Mariko's too tired to do it), and comes across Fukiko playing the violin under a tree near a small waterfall. She is surprised to see Fukiko in such a romantic/Romantic scene. Nanako feels like there's a tragic desire for someone hidden in her song... somehow.
Let's go with Nanako's empath powers. Or it's the setting combined with her natural affinity for romantic interpretations of things. A bit like Northanger Abbey's Catherine when she visits Northanger Abbey, or Anne of Green Gables' Anne... pretty much everywhere she goes. The difference is that Nanako has the right interpretation of what's happening. lol She describes this while looking sad behind a tree, which she's been doing a lot lately.

That night, Nanako can't sleep. At about 1:00, she hears splashing in the pool outside and sees Fukiko swimming from her window. 

We get Fukiko's interior monologue, thinking about "that summer day" ("ano natsu no hi") from back when she was younger and more old timey-looking.

The darkened silhouette makes it very mysterious. Going all pretentious and literary, since we know who Fukiko is talking about and the show knows we know, I interpret the shadowy silhouette version of Takehiko as highlighting the fact that Fukiko is in love with the idea of him- her ideal- without actually knowing him. Even more than usual, since heavily idealizing someone you dig before getting to know them better isn't exactly uncommon. Anyway, yup, Fukiko sure does love her idea of Takehiko, frozen in time.

When Nanako makes it down to the pool, Fukiko is gone, but she has left a wet trail that Nanako follows. Nanako hears Fukiko inside "that summer's day"'s room, reciting Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 and crying.
This scene seems to use the dolls in Fukiko's room as a motif similar to the doll Rei keeps in her apartment, I assume as representative of a past she needs to outgrow.
Nanako slips down some stairs while backing up, and Fukiko hears it, rushing out to catch whoever she heard. 

Fukiko walks out of the piano room where Nanako hides and things seem to be in the clear. But when Nanako returns to a worried Mariko and lies that she went to the restroom:

Next is the best scene transition this series has done, with a knife blade coming down while making a shing noise like it's being whipped out against a black background, only for the rest of the picture to fade in, turning out to be an egg yolk Fukiko is slicing at breakfast.

Nanako has a hard time reconciling the Fukiko she usually knows with the Fukiko from the night before. 
Fukiko, Borgia, and Mona Lisa drink and play badminton while Nanako and Mariko try to finish the last of their invitations. Mineko brings Nanako and Mariko drinks, and Nanako follows Mineko inside to ask whose room The Room is. Mineko explains that The Room was Fukiko's until she was twelve but has remained (effectively) untouched since then. When Nanako asks why, Fukiko chastises Mineko... then immediately fires her. Like, she has to leave right now. Mineko wasn't as professional as she should have been there, but what the fuck. And nothing says "That room isn't worth learning about" like firing someone to prevent them from discussing it. Nanako tries to get pardon for Mineko by telling Fukiko it's her fault, but that unsurprisingly doesn't work. Nanako catches up to Mineko driving away from the house. Nanako apologizes, but Mineko reassures her that she wasn't invested in being a maid, she just likes to try out different types of jobs. The story of the room would be quite the future job interview story. She also lives with her parents, as young adults in Japan are more likely to do than here, so she doesn't have to worry about housing until she finds another job. 
I would make a comment about Fukiko being an unusually shitty employer of household staff, but sadly, since her worst crime as an employer was getting mad at her staff for not giving The Room its due reverence, she isn't remotely the worst.

Anyway, now that she has nothing to lose, Mineko can tell Nanako the story of The Room without any self-censorship.

Mineko knows what we've seen so far about The Room, but not why Fukiko holds it sacred. After Mineko drives off, Nanako sees Fukiko riding in a boat in the lake nearby.
And, welp.
Nanako climbs over the water on a log to yell for Fukiko, and looks down to this.
winds up here.
Fukiko pulls her to the surface right in time not to kill her.
Why would Takehiko ever pass on this.

As far as Nanako's apologizing, it's obviously the opposite of what Fukiko deserved to have said to her, but it's true to how a lot of people would react in that kind of situation. You're weak from what just happened, and you sure don't want to piss off the perpetrator when they can easily do it again right there.

When Nanako and Mariko take the train back home, we learn Fukiko lied that Nanako fell into the pool and swallowed a lot of water. When Mariko is like "Are you really okay?" Nanako pretends she's totally fine. Silver lining is that she stands up for herself for the first time this episode by refusing to help Mariko with the invitations she still has to finish. Nanako has put up with enough shit for this trip. She also narrates that today was something.

Next episode, Fukiko gets pissed when Rei plays a song she thinks Fukiko loves to please her on her birthday. Rei just can't win.

No comments: