Wow, we’re moving into the infamous Christmas arc! I’ve avoided spoilers pretty well so far, so I’m not sure what that means yet…
Primes: Infamous? How is it infamous?
I keep seeing on Twitter and WordPress that this arc wrecks feels… This was especially talked about around Christmastime, which I noticed last year.
Primes: Can I just say I love the new OP, “My Silky Love”? The looks that Ryuji and Taiga give each other are so adorable!
You know what, I totally neglected to mention that! Yes, I’m digging this OP. Already have it on my phone.
First off, I’ve never adored Taiga as much as I did in this episode. Angel? Cupid? Hell yes (Ryuji you’re a liar)!
Primes: Agreed! Wake up, boy! (Love the donut halo. I’m sure my angel has a donut for a halo, too!)
Much of this episode centers around being “good.” Taiga puts down her tsundere defensiveness in anticipation for Santa Claus. Beyond that, even Ami warns Ryuji at one point to be nice (to her), and Ryuji and Yasuko’s dogeza before Inko the parrot serves as another humorous incident of repentance. “Being good” in this episode seems to be all about reinforcing relationships.
Primes: And, I would add, the motivations for becoming good, i.e. conversion. The episode’s very first line is about guilt. The dogeza indicates repentance (thank you, Moya!). Taiga calls herself an angel, but she’s also called a Buddha; both are figures of help in living a better life. And the end of the episode is the start of Ryuji’s “Conversion” from infatuation with Minorin to being truly in love with Taiga. (That’s not really a spoiler by this point, right?)
Pshh…never a spoiler.
Well, Christmas in Japan is all about relationships, romantic ones in particular. That’s probably why Kitamura came up with the ingenuous idea of a couples’ Christmas party (seriously, that entire school is obsessed with cheesy drama), and why Taiga equated “being good” with being Cupid.
Primes: Taiga-as-cupid literally puts the “wing” in “wingman”! *ducks*
I’m also amazed by how quickly Kitamura and Taiga got over the last episode’s drama and voluntarily became ambassadors of romance. I mean, it’s been three weeks, but what a development!
Of course, 2-C tries to spice things up by shipping Kitamura with Taiga. Man, I love that class. The anime really did so well at making the side characters fun and individually different, which is why it didn’t feel off when Kihara suddenly emerged as Kitamura’s admirer and initiated a private conversation with Ryuji.
Primes: I think Taiga’s getting noticeably stronger. The old Taiga wouldn’t have catered to the crowd the way she does when her “fan club” is hailing her as the winner from last episode’s fight.
Oh definitely! It’s great to see her grow confidence.
Now…does Ryuji love Taiga? Well, this is one of those series where it’s impossible not to know who’s going to end up with whom even before watching it, so I’ve been anticipating a turning point the whole time. As it happens in real life too, there wouldn’t be a romantic turning point, but only an epiphany that the feelings had been there all along. I might have unraveled the mystery behind why Taiga looks extra cute in this episode: whenever she smiles or does an adorable pose, we’re seeing the scene directly from Ryuji’s angle.
Primes: That… is a good point about the angles!
I don’t think that their feelings have been there all along. I think we’ve seen them growing. The epiphany that you rightly recognize is the point where each becomes conscious of those feelings, and has to decide how to live with them. To me, that decision is as much a factor in forming a relationship as those feelings. To realize that you love someone (and that they may or may not love you) is the point where fate and free will collide: You can’t help the feelings, and you can’t help that the relationship will change; and yet how that relationship will change is very much at the mercy of how you decide to move forward. You are forced to choose, yet without any guarantee as to the results. That’s what makes love so destabilizing; and in this crucible of uncertainty, a mature human being is fashioned. I think that’s what we’re seeing start to unfold here.
True enough; your choice and your perception of things are very much capable of altering your feelings, à la “The Fox and the Grapes.” By “all along,” I certainly don’t mean for most of the series either, but that the foundation for Ryuji’s affections was totally there before he suddenly acknowledged it now. It’s all about what he (and Taiga, obviously) does now then…
But Christmas is about reinforcing your “good” role: studying, playing around, and cheering on your friend’s romantic pursuit. Interesting note: Ryuji’s shirt says “normal heart.” But Christmas is a holiday, not a normal time? This crossover of “being good” x “getting that boy/girl” is chaotic under the surface. And I sure wonder what Minori will add to the mess later…
Primes: Yeah, shouldn’t we say something about Minorin? She’s feeling guilty about something, which causes her to screw up the baseball game. Then she has a sort of breakdown, showing up to class BALD, chewing on grass, and singing weird songs. And she’s clearly avoiding Ryuji… why?
Right…I just don’t know what to make of it though! While everyone’s trying to be good, is Minori setting out to be the naughty kid of the bunch? Considering the guilt that certainly seems to be crushing her, her intention must be the opposite…
The plot thickens!