When faced with a dire situation from which one cannot easily extricate oneself from, running away from the problem would definitely sound like a tempting alternative; after all, it allows one to delay thinking about it for a while, there’s a certain romance in the illusion of a new beginning, and most importantly, it helps one to believe that if one runs away from the problem long enough, things would work themselves out eventually. Unfortunately, reality is a lot harsher than that; the problems will persist even if one tries his/her best to run away from it, and ultimately, they will catch up with you one day. How do you keep running away from a problem? How do you put an end to things doing so? Is it even possible to keep it up indefinitely?
ef ~a tale of melodies~, Episode 8.
The word from the game vets about Kuze’s attempt to make Mizuki run away from him in the original VN is that, unlike in the adaptation where Kuze goes WARUM on her, he actually commits an attempted rape to scare her away. Probably not with any real intention to finish the deed, but just enough to ensure that she doesn’t dare try to get close to him again. I’d like to hear from you guys; which method would you personally feel to have more of an impact?
From this point onward, I’m starting to wonder at the current state of the relationship between adult Yuu and adult Kuze. While they were undeniably good buddies back in their school days, the way they seem to be taking some pretty hurtful jibes at each other makes one wonder whether things are still the same between them. Are they really friends at this point anymore, or mutual antagonists to a point?
Back to the past, and Himura goes through with his ill thought out plan to run away with Yuuko in tow. It’s kind of strange how Oonuma basically decides to cut out a good portion of the Shinbou-WTFness in the episode, all in the scenes of the other town that the pair run off to; in fact, if I may say so myself, the town looks like a SHAFT-style take on the AIR (TV) world. Hell, there’s something uncanny about the fact that the concept of the silverheaded Yuu leading Yuuko away on a wandering journey is similar to that of the silverheaded Yukito leading Minagi away on what is ostensibly the same thing in the latter series’ Episode 6….
Maybe I’m just far too cynical to live, but nowadays the concept of being head-over-heels in love with someone strikes me as more fearsome than romantic. The relationship with Tomoya and Nagisa in CLANNAD is not really all that bad since the latter actually influences the former to develop and grow for the better, even if she does do things like put curfews on him, and generally forcing the guy to be responsible for his life (which even I have to admit isn’t all that bad either, if a little creepy). But this one between Yuu and Yuuko? It’s on another level of creepy altogether, if it makes a guy do things like give up all his plans for a better future just for the sake of a girl with a troublingly manipulative personality. It really does make one think twice about the possibility of opening one’s own heart to a girl; well, at least it does for me.
Although the entire "running away" sequence was done in the most beautiful, AIR-esque atmosphere that Oonuma could cook up, there’s just so many subtle signs that all is not well from the start. For one thing, Yuuko keeps harping on the fact that she’s not "clean", as if she’s expecting Yuu to assure her that it doesn’t mean anything; it’s one of the signs that she’s suffering chronic emotional insecurity, no doubt brought about by her abuse at the hands of Amamiya, but nevertheless not going to be something easy for any of her caretakers to handle.
It’s pretty rare in anime to see what a healthy relationship can do for both parties, and the OTP in CLANNAD can be counted as one of them. It’s even more rare in anime to see an example of the effects that an unhealthy relationship can wrought on both parties, but I dare say that the Yuu-Yuuko one is one of them. One is needy and manipulative, the other is naive and easily-manipulated; it may look all romantic now, but I don’t think such a relationship is going to last very long.
And indeed, it is just as I thought; the emotionally insecure Yuuko easily comes to misunderstandings, and is prone to drastic action at the drop of a hat. Yuu is probably just starting to find out that acting as the Prince Charming, "rescuing the princess from the dragon is easy; the hard part is taking care of her". Before I continue, let me make a disclaimer; unlike what you guys may think from my words, I do not hate Yuuko, no not at all. I can totally see why she is the way she is, as well as how it’s not really her fault for being that way, but at the same time, I can’t ignore the fact that she is going to pose a difficulty for Yuu to handle because of this.
He says he won’t let go of her hands now, but how long will this last? Passion only lasts for a short period of time; the hard part in maintaining a relationship comes after passion has cooled down to mundane levels. Once that happens, can Yuu really say the same thing, or will he too begin to see Yuuko as a nuisance with her ways? Unfortunately, Yuu reveals just how naive a youth he was back then.
Two children playing house; it almost seems as if all is well, and their happy life together is just beginning. It really strikes me that Oonuma is taking such a cynical tone to the execution of the sequence; making everything so romantic and happy that it feels unreal, only to set up for the big fall that is soon to come. It almost feels as if the entire sequence is either Oonuma’s, or minori‘s, subtle jab at….some kind of fantasy. I can’t think off the top of my head exactly what, but the jab is definitely there somewhere, aimed at something.
Of course, having been shown the present-day circumstances of Himura Yuu, we all know that it’s not a good ending for them. However, Kuze’s words here are especially intriguing; it only serves to raise the death flag that many have already set up for Yuuko even higher. What does it mean when Kuze says that Yuu cannot meet Yuuko any longer? Is it truly what most of us think it is?
Shit => fan? No, trainwreck. It’s especially ironic that, as broken a man as he is, Amamiya still shows himself to be the more adult and aware of the two, immediately pointing out just what it is that Yuu has been doing while denying the very same thing to himself. Truly dangerous, and a truly formidable foe indeed.
And he practically pWn3d the naive Yuu hard, forcing his face into the fact that he’s still running away, that there’s no way he could serve as a new place for Yuuko to call her own, that all in all, once again, he has failed to plan properly. Although the way he asked the questions that causes Yuu to question his right to happiness is emotional manipulation that can be quickly seen for what it is, it works on the naivete of Yuu all the same; indeed, the young guy didn’t plan properly again. The romance of running away doesn’t last very long in the face of reality.
Finally, Yuuko reveals the deepest extent of the flaw in her personality; just because Yuu didn’t come home as early as she expected, she goes into panic mode, her "Onii-chan" revealing that her chronic insecurity is not wholly a result of Amamiya’s abuse, but goes even way back further than that, perhaps to the point when she lost her original family to the earthquake. Ultimately, this was something that should have been seen coming.
And to an ominous, drum-heavy instrumental version of Yuukyuu no Tsubasa, Yuu’s failure is complete as Amamiya claims back Yuuko with nary a finger lifted. This episode was especially meaningful, in how it so thoroughly broke the romantic fantasy of the concept of running away to another town, where a star-crossed couple could live in peace in a place where no one knew them. Despite the relative lack of the usually well-executed Shinbou-WTFness that have characterized the anime adaptation of the ef series, this episode is among those which had the most impact on me. Maybe, just maybe, the cynically reproduced AIR-esque atmosphere of the town was in itself yet another variant of Shinbou-WTFness.
Of the three old buddies in the present day, is Kuze truly the only one who realizes that the other two are still running away from their respective problems, drawing out what should have been ended a long time ago? Or, from another viewpoint, is he being a hypocrite? Could it be that he, too, was running away from his own problem, under the guise of ending it all on his own terms?
In any case, I might perhaps finally have a firm grasp on how Mizuki might be important to the overall theme of the ef ~melodies~ story; she may, like Nagi claimed, be the only one who truly knows, in her innocence, how to settle things satisfactorily, instead of running away or drawing them out unnecessarily. She may not just be the only one who can save Kuze at this point, she may even be the one who might eventually save even Yuu and Nagi from the funk they’ve dug themselves into since their student days. And all because of her "never give up" trait, that Nagi apparently admires her for. Could this be it? Could Mizuki actually be the key to unlocking a lifetime of misunderstandings perpetrated by the previous generation so many years ago? This series has always been an interesting one to follow, but as it seems, things are about to get more interesting.