I’m finally starting to get back to watching NHK and the rest of my neglected backlog and I think I’m going to do more of my episode entries in batches. For example, this post covers the four episodes of the “off meeting” mini-arc and is a little long because of it and my temporary inability to paraphrase my notes. Individual episode posts are tiresome especially with screenshots and this series in particular seems appropriate to be broken down into collective segments.
Ep 11 (Welcome to the Conspiracy!):
Satou and Yamazaki haven’t finished making their galge in time for Summer Comiket because of Satou’s hideously slow scenario writing. Instead, they create a trial version to sell and demonstrate that they have made some progress toward their final goal of a completed game.
Hitomi gets depressed after her boyfriend Jougasaki tells her he can’t make their planned summer vacation trip so she RSVP’s for an offline meeting due to depart the next day. She stops by Satou’s place to drink the night away and Satou decides to console her in order to rectify his past emotional failings. He attempts to do this through joining her on her trip but he has no clue why she’s actually going there.
It was nice to hear Hitomi talking in such a cheerful tone. Misaki was still down after Satou walked out on their last session. She shows her true passion for him by running and yelling his name as he and Hitomi drove away but to no avail as she trips, falls, and cries on the ground.
Ep 12 (Welcome to the Offline Meeting!):
Satou meets the rest of the “off meeting” group and initially becomes put off by their callous and overall sad demeanor. However, he is so inspired when he arrives at the island by both the beauty of the island and Hitomi’s company that he resolves to make a change in his behavior. He attempts to talk to the others but doesn’t do so well. After remembering how he failed to help the class rep put together the class festival, Satou starts to collect firewood to make a bonfire on the beach. One by one, the other men help him pull out a big log out of the sand. It is only after the island owner makes a comment about how they should enjoy the last days of the lives that Satou finally realizes why Hitomi came here.
Meanwhile, Jougasaki gets the rest of the day off from work and tries to call Hitomi’s cell phone. Unfortunately she had intentionally dropped it overboard a couple hours prior while riding the boat to the deserted island. He thinks something is suspscious when she’s not in her apartment so he goes on her computer and discovers her involvement in the online thread. He then goes to Satou’s apartment where he meets concerned acquaintances Yamazaki and Misaki.
Even though Jougasaki was introduced only last episode, I’m starting to feel for him and the situation he’s been put in by Hitomi’s actions. He had told Hitomi that he’d make up for the cancelled vacation and it seems that he truly loves her because he’s worried about her safety. Satou’s innocent enthusiasm was a strange contrast to the others’ lack of it to the point of being funny but his (unconscious) inability to put two and two together still comes off to me as a slight character flaw.
Ep 13 (Welcome to Heaven!):
Jougasaki drives Yamazaki, Misaki, and himself to the harbor in order to stop Saito and Hitomi form killing themselves. Yamazaki thinks that the signs were there and asks Misaki about his behavior but she doesn’t respond because she’s afraid for Satou’s life. Before they get on a boat and race over to the island, Misaki admits to Yamazaki she “found the one” in Satou.
On the island, Satou volunteers to pour the remaining boat fuel on the bonfire but then wonders what he’s doing. The group talks for a bit around the fire but then it is put out and the long walk begins up the mountainside toward a cliff that lies above the rocky ocean shore. Just before they jump off together the medical student, Hidehito, stops because he can’t get his mother’s face out of his head. The kid, Yuu, also gets cold feet as he admits he only stole money from his parents’ wallet to get out of trouble with mobsters.
Hitomi is still determined to jump but is stopped by Jougasaki’s marriage proposal from the bullhorn below them. Upon hearing her acceptance, Satou really wants to jump and the ex-suicide people try to hold him back. Misaki hops on the loudspeaker and tells him in a strangely loving fashion that he is a worse piece of human garbage than she is and that she needs to help him. Yamazaki tells him that a dramatic death does not befit them and both Satou and Misaki are heard crying loudly at the end.
One major plot deference from the manga is how the group planned to off themselves. Originally it was via carbon monoxide poisoning but I think the change to cliffjumping was essential to the anime writers’ intention to further the relationship between Misaki and Satou. The setting also provided more dramatic effect than sitting around in a steamhouse.
This episode featured a new opening and ending set although the former is not a big change as it is a sonic tweaking of the original. “Puzzle -extra hot mix-” adds a pipe organ and drops a saxophone but still has the same vocals and lyrics. The ending “Modokashii Sekai no Ue de” is softer and better than the old ending IMO but still so-so as a song.
Ep 14 (Welcome to Reality!):
Everyone is on the beach recovering from the drama on the cliff and Misaki tries to approach Satou. He scares her by only raising his fist in annoyance and seems to evoke bad memories of violence from her past. After they return to the mainland, Jougasaki offers the attempted people rooms and onsen privileges to help them relax. While the guys are sitting in the hot tub, the pool cleaner comes in and tells them they were fools to attempt suicide, including that he was one of them himself.
Some of the families come to the hotel to meet their missing sons. Hidehito gets slapped by his crying mother while Yuu’s father gets angry at the organizer before Yuu puts the blame on himself. Yuu later gives Satou a month-long trial code for Ultimate Fantasy, a MMORPG similar to FF XI. Satou asks where his companions went and it turns out Yamazaki quickly went back for the last day of Natsucomi and failed to sell many trial copies of their game. Misaki on the other hand simply went home but Satou expresses his disinterest in her. Satou gets a lift to the train station by the organizer and who should happen to meet him in the parking lot but the organizer’s young son Makoto!
Back at his apartment, Satou drinks with a complaining Yamazaki but soon gets bored and runs off to attend Misaki’s counselling session. Misaki cites a “breach of contract” because he missed the past two days but concedes that she had been keeping her house’s location a secret. Therefore, the fine of 1 million yen is temporarily offset. Satou gets called by his mother when he comes back and is told something he doesn’t want to hear her tell him.
This was a decompressing episode that resolved the off meeting mess and set the stage for Satou’s upcoming game addiction. The mini-arc as a whole lent a look into Misaki’s true feelings for Satou and her motivations for setting up the hikikomori project. Although her kind feelings are not entirely returned by Satou, she feels the situation is becoming better between them and holds hope for the future. The writers also presented the subject of suicide in a way that showed some people’s motivations and involved appropriate comedy via Satou’s role as the “straight man”.