Kuzu no Honkai – 03

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Just as Moca has a legitimate reason for loving Mugi (they’ve known each other a long time), Ecchan has one as well: Hanabi saved her from being assaulted on the train. When she ends up sharing Hanabi’s bed, Ecchan isn’t planning to do anything, but she just can’t hold back, and takes a gamble…one that doesn’t work out.

Hanabi thinks Ecchan is pretty, and she clearly values her as a friend, but when things get physical…it just doesn’t feel right for Hanabi, and not just because Ecchan is a girl. There’s a heavy weight she feels from being the object of Ecchan’s desires, accompanied by an acute, paralyzing fear.

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We learn a little more about what sent Mugi head over heels in love with his tutor Akane; he had his cherry popped by a beautiful senpai who later dumps him and breaks his heart. There’s every indication the girl he was with treated their fling as just a fling: casual, secret, fun while it lasted. Then she moved on.

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We see this unfold in what turns out to be a sexy dream Mugi wakes up from with an erection, just when Hanabi sneaks into his room for some contact. He initially stops her from touching him, worried he won’t be able to stop if they cross that line, but Hanabi doesn’t want him to stop, so she continues.

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Just as he was once so inexperience with his first, Mugi no doubt sees a little of himself in Hanabi’s inexperience, but after she expresses a bit of smugness, she starts to tear up, because she’s realized something: what she gets from Mugi she can’t just get from anyone. She didn’t get it from Ecchan, whom she was too scared to touch. Mugi is different.

Then and there, he’s someone she can see falling in love with, even if he isn’t Onii-san. After all, if she came on to Onii-san, who’s to say he wouldn’t feel the same tense, uncomfortable weight she felt from Ecchan? This is Hanabi taking stock of what she has in Mugi and thinking about her best interests.

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Later that night Mugi and Hanabi go to a family restaurant for dinner, and who do they run into but Akane-senpai, with a young-looking guy who definitely isn’t her brother who is really into him. Talk about awkward. Akane tries to be friendly, but the guy drags her away, clearly eager to continue their evening unfettered by her “students.”

The next day, Mugi tells Hanabi he recognized the guy as another student she’s tutoring. It’s all too clear he was more than that. Hanabi can’t believe how blind love makes Mugi, and is frustrated they don’t see things like this the same way, to the point she worries they weren’t as close as she thought.

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But then she realizes of course they’re not that close, at least not yet: their relationship, such as it is, has only just begun, and both of them agreed at the start they’d see other people in each other. Seeing Akane out in public with a different guy threw that plan into chaos for Hanabi.

She decides what she’s feeling now is something approaching hatred for Akane, which isn’t allayed by their brief, uneasy encounter in the schoolyard. Hanabi asks Akane (still wearing the same clothes from last night) if that guy was her boyfriend; she said it was just a friend, and that they can talk about it later. Assuming neither of them want Onii-san to find out about them being with other guys, Hanabi contemplates her next move as Akane, her back turned to her, cracks a wry, knowing smile.

Kuzu continues to excel with its serious, weighty but deft internal drama (not of the melo- variety) and quietly steamy scenes of sensuality (one of which ends with the mundane practicality of having to wash dirty clothes). We’re with Hanabi and Mugi all the way as they endure and explore their pain and pleasure; their playfulness and despair; their confusion and their revelations.

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Author: sesameacrylic

Hey, I'm Zane. I am a graphic designer and painter who also enjoys cooking, cleaning, and vegging out on my couch. I tend to veer towards anime that is some combination of comedy, romance, drama, and school settings.

5 thoughts on “Kuzu no Honkai – 03”

  1. It’s remarkable how _short_ these episodes feel, don’t they? And at the end, I _always_ wish I had the next episode on my harddisk, to watch it right away.

    In the past I was flabbergasted that KnH would ever get an anime – let alone on public TV. But good lord, does the director know what he’s doing.

  2. Damn this is really good. I really want to know what the heck is up with the various characters and how their relationship drama will turn out. There are some very interesting complexities to the story that are fun to puzzle out. I also like how we’re getting a lot of Hanabi’s inner monologue. Being this close to her mind really makes her feel more real as a character.

    1. Something else that makes it feel more real (and sets it apart from recent non-seinen rom-coms): The characters are charged with emotions and hormones, and are fooling around, experimenting, testing boundaries, taking risks, and getting lost in their experiences. You know, like real teenagers. I’ve been there. I feel like mainstream anime that tastefully portrays this kind of stuff is rare.

  3. Man, the show is just heaping all the drama to come crashing out later. It’s like the animated cousin of Dawson’s Creek..

    I like it.

    1. I’ve never seen Dawson’s Creek (nor will I watch its inevitable streaming reboot) but I know many friends who did, and I’ll take your word for it! :)

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