- Genre : Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life, Psychological Thriller
- Studio: Pierrot
It’s somewhat fitting that a show in the Winter Games, would be sending chills down your back. I didn’t even have to come up with a post title this week, the show did it for me, caps and all!!!
Sometimes, you see the wreck coming from a mile away and yet you still stand there helpless, watching everything come crashing down around you. A truly great thriller doesn’t need to rely on twists and last minute revelations, it roots you to your chair with tension and slowly lets the horrors drip into your eyes. These works can be difficult to take in, they leave a bad taste in your mouth and haunt you mercilessly whenever you have a still moment. I will be seeing flashes of Hase’s brutally beaten down and broken ego, behind his wild desperate eyes, every time the house quiets down. This is why the TV is always on in the background.
This episode is told from Hase’s point of vu. In an attempt to really make the audience empathize with his rapidly degrading psyche, animation and art were even less consistent than usual, perfectly conveying that uneasy nauseous feeling of wavering reality.
We start off with a short and very unsettling flashback of what seems to be a young Hase made to portray a possessed tree for the amusement of gathered elders. He is clearly unhappy about it, frustrated and crying, yet his Grandmother doesn’t lift a finger to help. It seems young Hase has a long history of abusive authority figures and being preyed upon by predatory groups.
This in part explains what makes present day Hase such an ideal target for the Prez. The boys are still preparing for their great recruitment propaganda extravaganza at the school festival. Although they opted for a play rather than a booth, it seems it will still be Sanrio themes, which is pretty darn close, wouldn’t you say?…
The story being presented by an unreliable narrator makes the sequence of events fairly unclear but we see Hase falling deeper and deeper into psychosis and depression as he heaps on insomnia and malnutrition on top. At this point, even the Sanrio cult can no longer delude themselves but the Prez brilliantly steps in to cut off any support Hase may have gotten from Ryo, Yuu or Shun. As the true mastermind he is, Sei barely hesitates as he constructs his excuse, saying Hase needs time and space to pull himself together and giving him peace is the best thing they can do. It sounds so reasonable, the sly devil.
It should be noted that the other boys are apparently compltely under his sway now. I’m not sure if Hase’s imagining things but Ryo and Yuu are suddenly very close and agreeable. Often deferring to one another. Shu’s personality has thawed out overnight. This upheaval of some of the boys’ core traits could simply be an illusion imagined by Hase but behavioral and temperamental changes are also quite frequent in victims of brainwashing and heavy influence.
As Hase’s health also takes an unavoidable downwards turn, he is forced by circumstance to finally get some rest, only to find that things have progressed drastically behind his back. While he was sleeping, the President pushed the other boys to rally minions for him and put them at work on the play, knowing full well that insisting on how easily replaceable Hase is would only irk him further.
Despite his imposing physique, the Prez has always favored non confrontational, psychological backstabbing techniques. He takes pains to make events seem to have been initiated by others, or to make people believe thy chose an imposed scenario of their own free will. It’s interesting that they chose to give him the traditional golden boy appearance on top of it, as his brand of manipulation would work just as well with a weak, less impressive boy, but I do like it. The fact that he could probably just knock Hase out if push came to shove only makes the entire situation even more dire.
Like a cornered beast, Hase falls back on his primal fight or flight instinct. Somewhere deep in his mind, something has sensed that things are very wrong. Some preternatural survival imperative is shrieking at him to get out. Lost and confused, Hase misdirects his rage at Yuu and we have the first drop of blood in the water.
Hase is barely holding himself together at this point, as his mind fluctuates wildly between past and present. His difficult relationship with his grandmother coming back to haunt him at every turn. It’s only by running into his old childhood friends that he manages to settle down a little. They are also worried and talk him down from his current episode, but unfortunately, they have been duped as well and only encourage him to willingly go back to his doom. Is there any chance of escape left for him?
The episode was much more straightforward thriller this time around, largely dispensing with the pleasantnville charade. Music was ominous and stressful. Shadows danced across the bright colors and many scenes were barely illuminated. A notion of Hase being the odd man out, the other one, the dispensable one, was repeated by numerous characters throughout the episode, symbolizing his loss of individual pride and importance. Hase is flailing madly against assimilation, but as the episode drew to a close, he did not seem to have anywhere left to turn…
I think it’s over guys. With Hase’s friends praising the Sanrio cult, I’m pretty sure the Prez has won. Considering the old school mindbender feel they’ve been going for throughout the season, I’m betting we get a Stepford wives ending, with a seemingly happy Hase gleefully taking part in whatever the Prez has in mind while having lost all individuality and free will.
Plot: Hase will apologize for his recent behavior (and accept the cult life) – ***I’m getting chills, guys***
Character: The boys will each have a representation of their favorite Sanrio character
I’m not putting any effort into making this show sinister. Here, just look at the screencaps I didn’t use…if you dare!