This whole anime is like a metaphor for Akane. It catches your eye with the possibility of romance and pretty visuals. It keeps you entranced with its pretty words and OST. It then fucks you over and makes you feel shit after exploiting you. And it’s not just screwing around with you. It’s screwing everyone. But the worst part that even once you find out, you’ll come back for promises of sex and pleasure. This Anime keeps reminding me more and more of Aku no Hana, which is a good thing. Both are very putrid and almost insane predictions of school life and romance.
The most remarkable element of Kuzu no Honkai’s characterization is how it consistently develops off screen characters by using the actions and thoughts of onscreen characters as a allegory. The character that is most benefited by this technique is far and away Akane. While overtly she has been characterized almost exclusively antagonistically, however when you consider her implicit characterization she becomes an almost tragic character. This episode the parallels with Akane went beyond just Hana, extending to Sanae and Mugi. In short, Hana is on the path to becoming Akane. I think this episode made that abundantly clear. Her central character conflict is whether she will become an empty seductress like Akane or redeem herself by developing a healthy relationship with Mugi. Of course redeeming herself would mean learning to love herself and developing some self-confidence. The alternative is she continues to seek self-worth from the affection of others and becomes as superficial as Akane. This parallel goes in both directions. While Akane represent a potential grim future for Hana, Hana represents how Akane descended into her current state. It’s no coincidence that young Akane’s motivation mirrors Hana’s so closely. While we don’t yet know the reason Akane became so afraid of being exploited, I have no doubt someone pushed her down the path she’s currently on. Establishing this connection is key to emphasize with Akane’s present actions.
Finally, Mugi’s developments this episode were what I found most interesting. To give some context, I’ve found Mugi to be the most morally upstanding character to this point. While he did “cheat” on Hana, he only did so after she cheated on him and they were not in a committed relationship to begin with. In other word, it was okay considering the circumstances. This has been the recurring trend with Mugi. He still acts on his lust for others, but he at least tries to respect his partners while doing so. Which is ultimately where I think the show is going thematically. Lusting for others is fine, but treat your partners as people, not tools for your own satisfaction. But, this episode Mugi seems to be departing from this position. Cheating on Hana now, after deciding to date for real, isn’t excusable. Yes he’s just doing it as a form of revenge, but it still belittles his commitment to Hana. It’s also part of a recurring trend of Mugi just going with the flow.
Hana initiated the physicality of their relationship and he went along with it. Hana half cheated on him so he did the same to her. She mentioned the idea of getting serious, so he asked her out for real. Now she’s cheating on him for real and he’s going to do the same to her. Mugi’s central character fault is that he shies away from conflict. Even when he knows what the right thing is, it seems he would rather go with the flow than actually do it. He sees Hana going down a dark path, but he has no interest in stopping her. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this development with Mugi’s character came simultaneously with parallels to Akane’s character. It seems Mugi learned her resentment of boring people, though without becoming completely heartless. In any case, this episode showed us a colder side of Mugi. It will be interesting to see where all this going. I still believe it’s up to Hana and Mugi to save one another, but we’ll see.