Hello again! Rapid succession of posts, now. I’m trying to utilize what’s left of my free week so I’m trying to finish reviewing up to the latest episode (EP6). While I will try to condense things a little, chances are that it might get even longer instead because who can deny how pretty the dancing scene was in this episode?
Warning: after I finished the post I realized – there’s a bucketload of pictures here. Don’t kill your internets if it can’t handle it, I did warn you.
This episode tries to bring attention to the less-known characters such as Safu’s grandma, which we see in the beginning. The sign of her dropping her precious knitting needle, though, should be a sign of foreboding for any anime observer. Yet, she is in the comfort of the Twilight House – what could possibly go wrong?
But seeing and hearing the nurse’s thoughts to taking care of the elderly kind of saddens me – she’s putting up a facade of taking care of them with a caring heart. The nurse, however, suddenly ages and dies in the middle of a shopping street, much to the shock of passerbys who are, not surprisingly, asked and taken away as witnesses of the incident. On the ambulance that eventually takes away the lady’s dead body though, it seems that it was a planned situation, and the lady is merely but a test sample for the parasitic bees…
The scene then takes a complete turn for the opposite – a serene, artistic-looking city by the ocean/sea. We are then drawn to what looks like a port-side university town…and Safu, who has just entered a new year after winter vacation in No. 5. Her friends, Ann and Betty, tease her for her style of writing in a scientific manner for the topic on Botticelli’s Venus when they wonder about her winter vacation homework. It is interesting to note how distinctively different the races you see in No. 5 are – more discussion after the recap.As we see in class, Safu’s poem is a really simple but somewhat meaningful one, coming from a character like her – always observing, noting information in details, almost excessively calculating. I’ll post the poem here for some food for thought.
I watch the world.
The sun shines.
And humans have souls.
I watch the soul.
The soul can hear the voice of God…
Taste its sweet fragrance.
Savor its words.
Touch its outstretched fingertips.
I watch the world.
I watch the soul.
I realize that the light guides my footsteps.
Safu, after this, chances upon her friend and classmate kissing after class, who ask of her to not spread the word – but Safu doesn’t understand why. Her scientific upbringing is indirectly mentioned again, and note how awkward and strange it is considered among the social behaviours of those who live in No. 5. To this end, Safu wonders about it, and her thoughts go to Shion who is, at the moment, reading to a pair of kids.
While it is not covered here in the anime, the novel and manga do cover somewhat why the kids that appear now are there – I’ll add that on after the recap. Right now though, we just see Shion being a real softie, reading stories to a pair of kids before sending them off. Rat’s typically poking at his softness again, only to be jabbed back verbally at how Rat’s actually nice enough to pass on the sweater to the sister, to which Rat has no answer. Rat decides to evade any other questions by leaving the house for work, and he is pretty adamant on not letting Shion see him at work.
Thus we see Shion talking to the next person available to him for chatting – Dogkeeper. Again Dogkeeper tries to pull down Rat’s image in Shion’s eyes, but this is Shion we’re talking about, that’s unlikely to affect him. It wasn’t as degrading Rikiga’s comments were so it doesn’t make him angry one bit.
And speaking of Rikiga, he turns up – much to the chagrin of Dogkeeper. Although, it is quite amusing to see him so deathly afraid of Cravat (the rat), we get onto more serious matters after a while. He is requesting information from Dogkeeper…about No.6. And of people suddenly dying, aging as they die instantly… This instantly captures Shion’s attention, as Rikiga relates how he got word of the story.
Shion is instantly spilling out details on his incident with the wasp, his physical transformation, so much so that even Dogkeeper is surprised. Not just from his revelations, but also from the fact that the so-called heartless Rat saved him. Once it hits Shion that No. 6 is facing an imminent crisis earlier than he forecasted, he wants to tell Rat face-to-fae, immediately. To him, it looks like as if he has to do it ASAP.This creates an anticipation of the coming events in the episode, as we start to see two scenes side by side and the similarities of both – Safu, as she visits a museum, and Shion visiting Rat at his workplace, where Rat is acting… Shion encounters some difficulty at first in getting to see Rat, in which Rikiga actually does help him (though likely perhaps out of guilt for the previous episode’s events plus for what he just heard)
And as Safu begins to admire art that she has never been much exposed to before, Shion enters the theatre, intially gawking around until he spots Rat…dressed as a woman, acting as a woman. Rat is Eve, is Ophelia, in this play we know as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Note that this scene is not in the novel, and a really interesting expansion, though events are shifted around from the novel to fit this context the anime is in, now.
Rat continues to act as normal when he looks up for a moment, and spots Shion in the audience. There is a look of anger, as his eyes sharpen, before he turns away only to show us what seems to be somewhat like shock and delighted surprise, almost. He then attempts to continue with the play as normal, while the scene constantly switches back to Safu every now and then, with her viewing a piece of glass artwork with bees/wasps on it.
A voice echoes in the minds of Safu and Rat simultaneously – stealing Safu’s consciousness away, drastically affecting Rat’s condition that he staggers on the stage, faltering to get a grip on a nearby pedestal. He calls for the voice to stop and loses consciousness as well.
But in his sleep, his dreams called by the voice in the wind, all is not calm. Endlessly a voice taunts him, as Rat lays in the midst of grass while the wasps surround the sky as it is coloured red. We see Rat turning from his current self to that of 4 years ago, and then perhaps even earlier to a younger child with much longer hair, about to sink and drown into a puddle of black liquid. He screams for help, screams for Shion – and it is Shion’s hand we see, reaching out to him, calling for him.
The next thing we see is Shion’s face – full of concern. It seems that they are back at their hideout, as Shion is watching over Rat very closely. Shion is naturally concerned, because anyone collapsing suddenly, anything that might happen suddenly – he isn’t prepared. So he does some silly numerical testing before Rat gets quite irritated of his silliness and tries to push him away, only to falter and collapse into Shion’s arms. It is an interesting comparison to their relationship thus far (Shion relying on Rat too much) which does, somewhat, make Rat feel a little uncomfortable.
While Rat recovers though, Safu has also seemingly woken up. It seems that through the simultaneous dreaming/fainting, she knows vaguely who Rat is, and hearing the voice, but her thoughts are scattered aside when a teacher rushes into the room bearing bad news about her grandma in No. 6.We soon see this leads to more greater perils for her, as this spirals into more doubt about the home that she shouldn’t question.
Finally, we reach the scene it seems that many, many people really loved to watch in this episode. I admit, I also loved it since it looked really pretty and all, but gaiz keep your romance and BL and whatever to yourself first. Those fujoshi glasses too. Yes, I know you have them on so take them off for a fair opinion.
We return back to Shion and Rat, with Shion confessing how he was worried about Rat and the possibility of having a parasitic wasp in Rat, but Rat simply smirks it off as usual, randomly calling for a celebration of sorts and pulling Shion into a dance.
What happens next is a mess of feet, as we find out that Shion has no idea of how to dance (what do they really teach in No. 6, really?) and Rat simply shows and guides him along the way by pulling him along. Shion adapts rather quickly, though, to the amusement of Rat. The following few seconds are precious with the OST playing while they waltz around in the hideout, to what looks like a dilapidated playground outside, with the sun setting in the horizon.
I cannot describe how breathtaking it is to see the colours wash over the duo as they dance, twirl and simply float along to the pleasant background music. Almost like as if you were dancing with someone you really enjoy/are close to, with music playing in the background – there is no need for words. I’ll…just jam a longcat chain of imagery here because no, I cannot break this scene into half, otherwise it’d spoil its effect.
After that really beautiful and fantasy-like scene we return back to the hideout – Shion’s drained, Rat’s just chilling and completely is at ease…until he suddenly jolts at the feeling of something on his neck.
Shion’s hand. Shion merely re-emphasizes how he was so worried, afraid, that he’d lose Rat to the wasps, that something would emerge there – but Rat isn’t quite listening. All Rat is thinking now is how Shion actually managed to touch an important pressure point.
And as everyone turns in, Rat is preoccupied in his thoughts momentarily – he let down his guard, he let someone else touch a pressure point, he could die by this person’s hands. And this person is no one else but Shion.
This episode was so painfully…good to watch, in a way. Like of course there’s a fangirl in me squealing but I’m shoving that aside so that we can have a more objective commentary here. There are quite a few things to bring up here, if one pays attention to the episode and its small details.
Right in the beginning we can probably tell one thing: there’s something going on in the Twilight House, it’s not good, and probably is related to the experimentation for the parasitic wasps. I’m not going to spoil episode 6 here although it’s been out, but you can vaguely foresee what has happened to Safu’s grandma, seeing her age and all.
The sharp contrasts between another city and No. 6 become really evident here – No. 5 seems like a free, democratic society where everyone is free to express themselves in some way and not get persecuted by the secret police or something. No. 6, on the other hand, practically starts to scream of an oppressive dystopian society whereby its citizens know nothing about the reality beyond their walls. If you recall, No. 6 looks more technologically advanced on the surface, highly scientific – No. 5 looks purely artistic and natural. Not sure if this difference is explained in the later parts of the novel since I haven’t found translations or read Chinese novel translations to that point, but obvious difference is obvious.
And speaking of the cities – if you pay attention to the brochure Safu is holding when she visits the museum, it says that said museum is the Art Museum of Chicago. If you recall right at the beginning, according to history (by the No. 6 authorities, anyway, so believe what you will) due to great conflicts and wars in the past, the remaining few cities were segregated into 6 main cities. Thus, it would be somewhat possible to classify that No. 5 is somewhere in America? If you notice too, the racial breakdown of the people around somehow hint about that as well. No. 6 has a significantly more Asian background, if you look are the citizens in the West District for example. Food for thought…?
Thinking about how some real life stuff may tie in brought this up. The ‘wind singing’ scene caught the attention of one of my friends who drew parallels to this trilogy called ‘The Wind Singer’, whereby the characters inside are also coincidentally struggling in a somewhat dystopian society that oppresses free thought until, of course, the main character decides to break free of the cycle. The theme of a futuristic dystopian society is quite common somewhat in numerous English literature. I won’t point fingers but this notion is a possible concept that countries may eventually head to, if forced into a situation such as probably the great wars before the events of No. 6 occurred.
Going back to characters, though, Safu’s viewpoint was interesting – at least she isn’t forgotten, come on – and I especially liked her poem. We finally get to see her a little bit more here and there and it’s a positive reminder that each character is somewhat important.
The kids, however, who just popped up in the anime suddenly without an explanation – in actuality they do explain why they turn up in the manga and novel, which surprised me when I went back to check whether the anime had explained it and they had not. For those who don’t know, Shion helped to save the boy when he was apparently choking and his sister begged Shion for help. As such they sort of become attached to him, even though they were sort of repulsed at first when they saw him way back when he first emerged with his snake ‘tattoo’.
Finally, Shion and Rat have a ridiculous amount of bantering, interaction and a whole lot of action together diretly and indirectly it does make one wonder whether this series is or isn’t BL. But it isn’t meant to directly be BL, if you consider the author’s really vague comments here and there. But ignoring any romantic consequences, throughout this episode you indirectly see each of them testing their relationship, whether they can trust the other, share with the other their deepest fears and all…
The waltz scene is interesting simply because it almost reflects their relationship – classical dancing is a way of learning to let go of control as and when needed, trusting the other wholly, controlling when balance and logic is in tandem with flow and beauty in the dance. They are both somewhat giving way to each other, yet maintaining that they are important enough, individualistic enough on their own – a waltz cannot be done alone, and this also may possibly hint at how important they are to each other in a way. The OST complements this scene really well, as each pull of the violin/strings just are emphasized with the scene changes, the backgrounds…need I really say anymore? CRIKES JUST WATCH IT.
But I got to say that in this episode, animation was sort of…occasionally sloppy. I mean, Shion’s hand at the end. What. He suddenly got jello fingers
and wouldn’t Rat like to eat them and those looked just plain odd. Plus, the ‘grass’ field that Rat was in during his dream/nightmare scene – grass looking like…egad what grass is that after all the beautiful details we see everywhere else? Well but Bones has generally done great animation (FMA:Brotherhood was decent, you have to admit) – I actually found the part on the reallyyoung!Rat looking like a typical Bones-style anime face trololol.
Though, on a last note, you gotta admit that seeing Rat as Eve (and seeing him bend his…lower body at such an angle) was disturbingly hot. See you all in the next post again!