By Noel Kirkpatrick
Episodes 24 and 25: “Encore” and “The Scarlet Lipstick”
Original airdates: Jan. 19 and 26, 1992
“…Afraid of the violence hidden underneath Miya-sama’s kindness.”
Miya-sama’s motivations are laid bare, her entire being put on display. We found out that she was clinging to a summer from six years ago, and this episode confirms the suspicions that it was due to love for Henmi. Miya-sama fell in love with Henmi on one of those magical summer days where it’s sunny one minute and then there’s a torrential rainstorm the next. Shelter is taken in a ramshackle boat house, and the beautiful college-aged boy recites Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. A pinky swear is made to return, and the pinky swear is broken, ruining the a single girl’s life (including an attempted suicide-by-drowning); that girl in turn resolves to ruin the lives of others.
Miya-sama carries the weight of disappointed puppy love with her, and decides to destroy Nanako once and for all. It’s a stirring moment at the end of “Encore” when Miya-sama’s limo passes under the bridge that Nanako’s train is going over, a moment that the series has been leading up to. Nanako’s admittance into the Sorority has always been a lingering question as she doesn’t seem worthy enough. Sure, some of that was from bullies, but increasingly it just seemed odd. But as the series progressed, we learned that Miya-sama had hand-picked her, and we learn that it was now to control Nanako and keep her away from Henmi.
And how does she do it? By seducing and forcing herself onto Nanako, of course. It’s such an odd scene (and likely the reason “The Scarlet Lipstick” got the series banned in a few countries). Is the misguided seduction an attempt to make Nanako fall in love with her, or just traumatize her enough to find romance repulsive? It ultimately doesn’t matter what the end was because I’m not sure that Miya-sama herself knew what the goal was. It was a desperate move on a woman driven to desperation. She tried to reenact her own suicide attempt in “A Summer’s Serenade” by drowning Nanako, and one must wonder if she’s attempting a similar place switching here, kissing Nanako’s ear and then pinning her to a couch, in a way she may have wanted Henmi to do.
I love that Rei is finally taking some action here, attempting to unravel the mystery that is her half-sister, and so it’s something of a relief when Rei bursts in and lays out the whole mad plot. But that relief quickly turns to horror when she, like her half-sister, sexually assaults Nanako, pushing the younger girl to the floor to kiss the same lobe that Miya-sama kissed, not because she loves Nanako, or even wants to control her somehow, but so that she can feel closer to Miya-sama in even this slight way.
And so Nanako, after seeing a romantic drama that was a little too mature for her, gets swept up in love triangle (of sorts) that is based on childhood feelings. Miya-sama does her up like a doll (she looks all too much like Rei’s doll with that lipstick on), and she even looks incredibly older. It’s a startling transformation for Nanako, and it’s one the series has to address. This night is not something that can just be put past her, or resolved by playing hooky from school for a day or two. This will change her, and the show needs to reflect that.
- I love that Tomoko gets a touch awestruck by being so close to Rei. Even she’s not immune!
- Hey Kaoru! Happy to see you for a bit of comedic relief in the home economics class. And were you involved with Henmi at some point? What’s going on there?!
- Miya-sama’s destruction of the Closed Room reminds me (of course) of Charles Foster Kane destroying a room.