Kotoura-san 03 – The Simple Things in Life
January 28, 2013 1 Comment
As has probably become clear over these recent episodes, Haruka is an emotionally unstable individual, and is the first to blame herself for anything going wrong or people being hurt. Such an attitude, while wrong, is hardly surprising due to the nature of her ability and the apparent problems that it has caused her family. For Haruka, her ability to read other peoples minds is natural, so natural that many of her ‘conversations’ with Mifune are done through the use of her ability rather than Mifune vocalising her own thoughts. We were also introduced to her ability in a natural setting during the first episode, with Haruka reading other peoples minds and seemingly believing that this is perfectly normal. Having such an ability and the ability to naturally use it in the same as breathing makes Haruka’s life complicated, not least because there have been those who are willing to accuse her of lying and cheating, even going so far as to label her as a monster. Furthermore, her parents arguably used her ability as an excuse for their divorce and all of the problems that were happening before them. As we were shown in episode one, Haruka’s family life was far from perfect, in fact, the joyous, ‘normal’ family that we were presented with in the first few minutes quickly disappears as the episode progressed. The family was already on the verge of splitting up, and as we watch, Haruka’s mother, Kumiko gradually gets worse and worse, and begins to blame all of her woes on her daughter.
As Kumiko dragged Haruka around various hospitals and experts we saw her deteriorate, and begin to blame everything on her daughters inability to tell the truth, at least as she sees it. By this point Haruka’s family has all but collapsed, but she remains a relatively innocent child who doesn’t really understand what is going on or why, and appears to truly believe that everything is her fault. That her father is rarely home and clearly having an affair, or perhaps several affairs only reinforces the damaged state of the family and is perhaps one factor that leads to Kumiko doing the same and having her own affairs. By innocently reading her parents mind and confirming what they must have already suspected that they were both cheating, Haruka speeds up the inevitable, and her fractured family finally lets go and shatters. The look of hate and disgust on Kumiko’s face as she abandons her daughter to the care of Zenzou (her father, Haruka’s grandfather) we finally see how far things have come, and how spiteful Kumiko now is. It is arguable that Haruka’s ability to read minds didn’t cause her family to split up, rather it simply pushed everything forward with the actions of her parents as almost inevitable. At no point do we see Haruka deliberately trying to hurt her parents or any of the children around her; rather they are the ones who reject her. Furthermore, the absence of her father during the first episode only further reinforced the problematise that Kumiko had to deal with and added another burden on top of an already strained relationship. Kumiko effectively blamed Haruka for everything that had gone wrong over the years, and by abandoning her there is the sense that she is attempting to run away and leave all of her mistakes behind her. But suggesting that Kumiko truly hates Haruka seems a little hard to believe given the amount of care she gave Haruka during her earlier childhood.
The problem is though that Haruka now blames herself for her families collapse and effectively closed herself off from the wider world, believing that to get close to people would mean hurting them and hurting herself. By meeting Manabe, Mifune and Daichi things began to change, with Haruka finally able to make friends and enjoy herself rather than walking through life like a zombie. There are of course still certain problems, not least the existence of Mifune and her apparent willingness to use Haruka to prove the existence of Psychics, thus clearing her mothers name and restoring her families’ honour. By trying to use Haruka to prove her mothers innocence and clear her families’ name, Mifune only reinforces the problems that Haruka has had to deal with over the years since her families split. But, we also now have a club that is willing to accept Haruka for who she is rather than for what she is capable of doing. The first half of this weeks episode is spent following the ESP Research Club as they generally enjoy themselves and mess around in karaoke bars. This gives us a chance to see a different side to Haruka, one where she can get embarrassed, smile, blush, laugh, and so on – these facial expressions are completely different to the zombie like individual that we were greeted with in episode one. This first half also shows us how far Haruka has come, and how, with the right people she can forget about the pain in her past and enjoy herself to her fullest, even if it means inflicting her tone-deaf singing on the other club members.
Also, we see a slight change in Mifune, who now spends most her time making fun of Kotoura, and teasing her for falling in love with Manabe. She may not have completely abandoned her attempts to clear her families’ name (as you would expect given the years of effort that she appears to have put into it), but we now see a character that has come to realise the pain that those with special powers often live with. Haruka’s reaction Moritani’s thoughts last week seems to have had a tremendous impact on her, and as Daichi points out, probably brought back the pain that losing her mother left with Mifune. But this first segment does at least reinforce the notion that with the right people present, Haruka’s ability to read minds wont cause any issues, and is instead use for comic effect, and clever ways of holding conversations. The problem remains that there are still those, namely Moritani who cannot forgive Haruka for stealing Manabe, at least as she sees it. Moritani’s approach to the whole situation is reminiscent of Kumiko’s, rather than to question what she can do, and how that might help, she instead dumps all of the blame onto Haruka. However this time, rather than hurting Haruka, Moritani orders some of the practitioners at her families dojo to rough up Manabe as a way of getting back at him. His outburst at Mortani in last weeks episode came as something of a shock, but was also rather fascinating to watch since it demonstrated that Manabe, despite his carefree and easy going attitude will stand up for those he cares about. Moritani’s denial and outburst also suggests that she at least knows what she has done, but still believes that Haruka used some underhand trick to get Manabe on her side. This ignorance and arrogance further reinforces how little she truly understands Manabe and Haruka, and how her jealousy has manifested itself into a spiteful and damaging response that threatens to drag Haruka back into her dark past. It also demonstrates how emotionally unstable she has become, and how little she is willing to think about her current situation and what Manabe might think if he ever finds out about her actions.
By sending karate practitioners to beat up Manabe, Moritani also demonstrates how incredibly immature she is, and how little she has really thought about the situation. Her rash actions and the sudden realisation of how dangerous they were clearly dawn on her when she sees how beaten up the people she sent were simply sum up how immature and dangerous she is. The shock that she feels when Haruka reads her mind, but doesn’t reveal any of the thoughts to the class also demonstrates how little she really understands Haruka. She doesn’t want to hurt others, and while Haruka can read other peoples thoughts, she is not deliberately prying into other people’s secrets to use them as leverage; rather, she keeps everything to herself so as to not hurt others unnecessarily. This is shown in stark contrast to Moritani’s reaction and willingness to send four karate practitioners to beat up a single high school student, further reinforcing how immature and childish she really is. The problem is that this single incident brings back everything that had originally tormented Haruka, and she once again believes that anyone who is close to her will eventually be hurt. This thought process was started by her parents divorce that her mothers utter rejection and contempt, and has been reinforced by years of negative thought patterns and rejection by other students. But, as we have seen in the first half of this episode, it is clearly the case that Haruka can have a normal enough life and that it is far from her fault that Manabe was beaten up. Rather, it is essential that she makes friends and gets to know others, because the only alternative would be to close herself off from the world, something that should never happen.