By Noel Kirkpatrick
Episodes 22 and 23: “A Summer’s Serenade” and “The Forbidden Gift”
Original airdates: Dec. 29, 1991 and Jan. 12, 1992
There is no such thing as a good birthday party on this show.
Miya-sama’s been something of a question mark in the series. Her motives have been shrouded in mystery, and while the audience has had the privilege of knowing a bit more than Nanako, no one knows the complete story. If the first third of this series was about Rei, this third has increasingly been about Miya-sama. We’re watching her slowly become unhinged, and the reasons are becoming increasingly tragic.
Where to start? The Closed Room seems as good a place as any. While it’s not as startlingly odd as Rei’s apartment of mirrors, it’s a room trapped in time. It hasn’t changed in six years, and Miya-sama wants it exactly that way. She’s even aware of when a pencil case and a watch are in the wrong spot on a table. And so she sits in there, reliving a day in a summer from six years ago, reading Sonnet 18, and crying. Obviously it has to do with an older man, the shadow-figure we see in her flashbacks. And I think it’s fair to guess that it’s Henmi (which I’ve been guessing for a while now, I admit).
The important thing is that she wants nothing to tarnish that memory, this girlish love she carries with her. She needs it to remain completely pure, her feelings of love and isolation have to be as visceral as they were six years ago. Like Rei’s fixation on Miya-sama and Mariko’s struggle to connect with others in a healthy way, Miya-sama’s in a trap of her own making, she can’t move on.
But external forces are threatening Miya-sama’s little world. Nanako, obviously, has been unknowingly eating away these edges (the poor girl is completely oblivious), and is being punished for it. No, it’s not okay for the president of your sorority to attempt to drown you in the lake of her family’s villa. Yes, you should take a couple of days off from school to recover, and you should also probably report her to the authorities (not that it would do much good since she’s loaded). (Man, remember when Misaki was Nanako’s biggest problem?)
It’s kind of a harrowing sequence (though there’s not much suspense in it) since it demonstrates just how damaged these people around Nanako are (Tomoko aside). Locking someone in your room or a storage closet is one thing, but almost letting them drown, and then playing it as a prank? That’s something else entirely. Rei may be suicidal, but Miya-sama is something else entirely, and Nanako needs to be careful.
The birthday party in “The Forbidden Gift” is, oddly, a bit less enthralling than “A Summer’s Serenade.” I think some of this is just due to how well-established much of what’s expressed in the episode, Miya-sama’s two-facedness, Rei’s desperate need for approval from her, and the Nanako/Henmi/Miya-sama triangle being summed up at the furnace (loved that scene, really), just feels a tad filler-y at this point, so I’m ready for lots of stuff to start breaking soon.
So I’m just being impatient, really. Miya-sama breaking down at her own party may be enough to cause some of the other seniors to question her leadership of the Sorority, provided they have any backbone to do so, but we’ll see how that goes. My money’s on Borgia and Mona Lisa staging a coup.
- “Serene. Sad. As if waiting to be saved. … Who exactly is she waiting to save her?”
- Viki has posted the first episode of The Rose of Versailles. This anime series, like Oniisama, is adapted from a manga by Riyoko Ikeda. It’s easily Ikeda’s most iconic work, among the most influential and important manga written, and finding it (the anime or the manga) in English (legally) is exceedingly difficult. Take advantage of this opportunity.