Finished the second chapter!
And I have never been more glad to be so unimpressed at the first chapter as I am now. It seems like the previous story lowered my expectations so much that I was absolutely blown away by this one. Bravo Ryukishi, you tricked my overthinking brain to not to think as much!~
So much that, uhm… god… I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t particularly like about this chapter.
I could say the story was cliché with forgiveness and all, but I think after the previous chapter full of despair and all, I think we really needed a positive message right now before moving on.
But this makes it hard to start stating the things that I liked… hm…
Alright first things first, truth.
This was the view of truth that I seem to apply, that if there’s no proof, and if you’re alone, then your truth is not considered the “real” truth. So seeing this injustice happening, I quickly clicked with Takeshi’s suffering, and I kept empathizing with him throughout the entire chapter. So what Takeshi felt, I also felt on those exact situations. Because in truth, I passed through a similar roller-coaster that he went through, with all the truth obsession and expecting a mistake from a person and other details that are too personal (Tho’ for the record, nobody died, fortunately). So I just… understood how he felt at all times.
One important detail that I related to the most was this: Making a mistake on obsessing over something, thus hurting someone greatly, and not remembering about it at all. This detail affected me on a personal level and I honestly felt called out on it. And this was kind of hard to sit through to read for me, because I knew what most of this was like from experience (except from having youkai adventures, yikes.)
And on the part where Higanbana was trying to make Takeshi and Yoko kill each other, man, if I were in Takeshi’s situation I would have also allowed her to kill me. It just… felt the most logical and fair option to me.
Okay, basically, as much of a horrible stalker asshole Takeshi was, I can’t help but slip myself easily into his shoes and not blame him too much without calling myself a hypocrite.
Moving on, I’m just gonna throw some more general reactions that I had while reading this chapter before sharing some details that I thought about:
- I was at first happy that Marie got mentioned again, and that escalated into “IT’S MY CHILD!!! AND SHE’S BADASS!!!” once she herself appeared in the scenes.
- “There are 48 people in my class. She’s the 49th person.” Is this Umineko
- Takeshi was obviously projecting his feelings on Marie AND Higanbana. Y’know, the stuff about not wanting to be forgotten, being lonely, yearning for a safe place, and all that good stuff.
- As most others who read, I also loved the Marie and Higanbana fight and how they utilized their legends to fight, that was really cool and I wanna see how this is gonna be utilized later.
- Also, Marie putting her foot down to Higanbana like dayuuum, you go girl.
- The Headmaster’s introduction was creepy as hell and I loved it.
- Apparently talking to a youkai is like talking to a pet animal, youkai=animal confirmed.
- Who hurt you Higanbana?
Anyway, now onto some thoughts that I had while reading the chapter.
First, the choice presented of truth vs peace was interesting. Normally I would pick truth with no hesitation, but reading the chapter now… I thought about it a little more. Sure, logically, I want to know the truth, even if it hurts and causes me to break down. I believe that truth is more important so you can improve yourself easier and know where you should work on to be a better person towards others. Thing is however… I believe that, but my actions don’t really indicate that I want to know the truth, especially since I tend to run away from conflict to make sure nobody gets hurt by the truth, and I tend to be a pretty sensitive person, so I react badly with critiques and all, no matter how nicely it is put. I only allow myself get hurt by the truth to an extent. So… despite believing in truth being important above else, I act upon peace. Because nowadays I can’t stand hurting people, no matter how inevitable and necessary it may be. I run away from things that I don’t like, and I’m not proud of it.
So keeping in mind that truth vs peace is not always an active choice, (and that sometimes you can have both) let’s look at… both Takeshi and Yoko. By the way, before I continue, I’m loving this theme of two characters being similar in a lot of ways but being different in certain aspects. Gives a little duality perspective, you know? Anyway, these two hurt each other. One by lying, the other by stalking and starting the bullying. Of course that Takeshi’s wrong doing is honestly worse, but let’s think about this. Why did they do what they did?
Let’s start with Yoko, the simpler one. Sure, she said that maybe she wanted to see what Takeshi would do, but really, it was to keep herself from getting in trouble. From avoiding getting scolded. Maintaining peace, as you will. In fact, a lot of her character arc seems to be about running away from stuff to find peace. Running away from getting scolded, from the bullying, killing herself to run away from suffering, trying to have revenge to run away from the cold place called hell… And… in the end, once she finally faced Takeshi, she probably regretted running away. Which is probably why she forgave Takeshi and found peace at last. She didn’t need to run away anymore to find peace.
Meanwhile, we have Takeshi himself. The one who believes in the importance of truth. He did what he did because at first he wanted to make sure the truth was exposed and all that. But that grew into a feeling of revenge, obsession to make sure that Yoko feels the pain that he felt. You know, it’s really easy to notice how he can sometimes be hypocritical and superficial, but he wasn’t realizing that just all this time, he wanted to maintain his own peace in his mind by using the truth. Eventually, truth just kinda stopped mattering much, and all that was there was him trying to be at peace by having revenge. And… you know how that ended. I wonder what would have happened if his memories of her were never erased… ah well.
So… while truth might be very important for people, it’s important to note that despite an individual’s beliefs, they might want to act upon their own peace more than what they might think.
Moving on from this, with all the youkai battle stuff going on, I couldn’t help but to put my mystery mindset into work and figure out how some details can be explained without the spirits being around and all. This started from Marie’s mother’s reaction. Because… I think forgetting about her own daughter might have been some sort of a mental defense mechanism so that she wouldn’t go psycho on everyone and get thrown into a mental hospital. Because losing your own child must be heavily traumatic, so who knows what your brain might do to not go into a breakdown. Plus, the Headmaster conveniently made her forget again. Which feels like a cheap way of not allowing anyone to die, unless it was an actual defense mechanism. Everything else could just have been in Takeshi’s mind, introspecting, thinking of what ifs, and all that.
But with this train of thought, I thought about something interesting about Higanbana herself. Especially since we got more of her character in this chapter. I decided to look at her from a storytelling perspective, instead of looking at her as a character, as I usually do.
I was trying to figure out what exactly she represents in all of this.
Think about it, she was very adamant about the “bully or be bullied” mentality. And she seems very very neutral when it comes to morals to the point where she didn’t care who would kill who, fitting to a youkai of course as they need to feed somehow. There’s also the obvious contrast between her and Marie’s optimism and hopefulness. Hm… I would throw a wild guess at her being some sort of a representation of “natural order”, with all implications of there not being much of a society in the youkai world aside from the 7(8?) mysteries, and all the food and food chain analogies. But I’m not too sure about this, but it was an interesting thought.
Anyway, I loved this chapter, and I wish I could say more, but I already rambled on a lot, so better stop here for now.