Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider – 05

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It was probably present before, but this week more than others I noticed the common theme between the two “couples” in Subete ga F: Shiki and Shindo in the past; Saikawa and Moe in the present. In both cases, the men are unfulfilled, wanting more freedom but being tied down; fearing the very freedom they crave because of what it might cost.

And by the end of the episode both couples arrive at a turning point, as well as a philosophical impasse of sorts. The apparent murder case, so prominent last week, takes a back seat to how being in the Land of Magata Shiki is affecting Saikawa and Moe, even as they act out a very similar scenario to that of the now-dead couple.

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Suffering vivid dreams of the day her own parents died, Moe ends up pumping Shindo’s still-in-shock widow for information. Losing her husband has left her untethered, floating free; but she doesn’t know what to do with herself, so she bakes too many cookies and is happy to tell Moe whatever she wants to hear about the day Shiki’s parents were killed.

But no matter how many details Moe learns, she comes no closer to understanding Shiki or her crimes, to say nothing of accepting them. It’s when she confers with Saikawa that a rift starts to form between them: the playful flirting replaced by increasingly harsh debate over who and what Shiki was.

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Bright as she is, Moe wears her heart on her sleeve and owns herself. She doesn’t feel “tied down” by having one personality she settled on as she grew and matured as a human. Saikawa, however, feels more trapped, both by his job and by the decision most all people make when they grow up to eliminate the contradictions and choose one personality with which to interact with the world…and fit in.

He admires Shiki for never doing that even as she grew up; he even believes she was fulfilling more of her potential as a human than he or Moe or hardly anyone else. He even goes so far as to call her “pure”, which considering her murders and fooling around with her uncle, would sound strange to anyone with conventional ideas of love and ethics…ideas Moe happens to have.

To Moe, when Saikawa starts waxing poetic about Shiki, even though he’s making no direct judgments on her, she feels rejected; it’s as simple as the guy she likes liking another girl more than her. But Moe does have one variable in her favor Shiki lacks: she’s still alive.

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The bookend-ing of flashbacks completes with Shiki purchasing a survival knife for Shindo, calling it “a tool to free oneself.” That could mean many things. Shiki’s parents clearly are unaware of the affair she and her uncle are engaged in. “Freeing oneself,” in that case, would mean making sure that affair stayed secret. Cutting the ropes that tie you down, to be with Shiki, the one who glides over all.

That knife could be the weapon that killed Shiki’s parents, and the doll in the room is Machiru, one of the personalities she carries. By gifting him the knife, Shiki is also forcing Shindo’s hand one way or another; asserting her authority over all these adults in her life by the primacy of her intellect, not things like familial bonds dictate who’s in charge.

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Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 03

While recovering from her fever, Rokka reminices on the night she met Atsushi, and ended up in a bed, with him doting on her. She faces a similar situation in the present, with Hazuki taking care of her. They share a passionate embrace as an increasingly bitter Atsushi looks on. He starts to shake the room and throw objects at Hazuki, who insists he go rest in peace and leave him and Rokka alone. Even if he’s Rokka’s second choice, he only wants to make her happy. To that end, he asks her out on a date to a theme park; the same place she last went with Atsushi and Miho before he was hospitalized.

Here was another gorgeous and affecting tour-de-force, laced with bitter, sweet, and bittersweet moments. First  of all, who would have thought Rokka’s first night with Atsushi was spent throwing up in a toilet and then passing out drunk? Our ghost is starting to show signs of becoming a poltergeist, which is not a good sign. Atsushi is resorting to violence, and even warns Hazuki he may end up killing him if he doesn’t leave. But Hazuki won’t be cowed so easily. You see, he’s fallen for the super-cute Rokka, and fallen hard. Who can blame her? Those friggin’ eyes; that pixie cut; she’s a beautiful human being inside and out. Hazuki’s challenge is to help both her and Atsushi  to move on. But how?

While at dinner after a day of filling in for Rokka at the shop, Miho tells him about her and her family’s concern for Rokka; they don’t want her to be alone, toiling away at the flower shop the rest of her youth – they’d like to set her up with someone, and maybe even get her out of that shop, or sell it off. Miho tells him Rokka may need a push to move on, so a push he gives her. As for Atsushi; Hazuki’s point about cut flowers being like ghosts created selfishly really resonated with us; it was a great analogy that summed up the situation pretty succintly. In the circle of life, flowers separated from their roots should go to feed their forebears. Even if his mind is still in the living world, Shimao is no longer part of that circle. His continuing to interfere with Rokka’s life does nobody any favors.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 02

A week after their ramen date, Hazuki has had difficulty talking to Rokka due to Atsushi’s constant presence at the shop. Finally, he looks through Atsushi and asks her out to dinner. Afterwards she invites him in and things are about to get frisky when Atsushi interenes again; Hazuki blurts out an insult at him that upsets Rokka. She kicks him out, sleeps on the table, and wakes up with a fever, collapsing on the floor. Atsushi cries out and somehow, Hazuki hears him and comes to the rescue. Rokka calls out to Atsushi, apologizing to him.

As their vows stipulated “as long as they both shall live,” why does Shimao Atsushi haunt his former wife, Rokka? Glad you asked! It’s simple: she begged him not to go…so he didn’t; he stayed. And still he stays. Rokka can’t see or hear him, but whenever she’s home or in the shop, he’s there. Does he even have a choice in the matter, or does Rokka keep him there? Ever the practical fellow, he offered her signed divorce papers so she could marry someone she could have a child with. She promptly tore them up in a heartwrenching scene. Now, Rokka is at a crossroads: a cute guy eight years younger than her seems  to want her, at a time when she’s nearly forgotten how to want or be wanted. Is there room in her heart for a living man along with her dead husband?

We like how quickly Hazuki moves with Rokka…it’s very adult. Once he finds his nerve, Hazuki is not one to hesitate. Their chemistry is very nice too – we like the detail about Garlic Breath, Bane of Dates. Rokka, self-conscious about her age and widow status, is being tugged and pulled every which way by her emotions in the midst of this new courtship. Her practical side wants to give in to the advances (while she still can), yet she finds herself pushing him away. Of course, Hazuki hardly help matters by falling for Atsushi’s trap and getting him to open a wound not easily closed. Perhaps next time he should invite Rokka to his place…if there is a next time.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 01

Hazuki Ryuusuke is in love with the neighborhood florist Shimao Rokka, and when a part-time position at her shop becomes available, he takes the job. One day Rokka invites him to her upstairs flat to plan a party for the employee he’s replacing, and he finds a half-naked man in there with her. Meeting him again later at the party, Hazuki learns he is Rokka’s dead husband, Atsushi, and only he can see him. Unfazed, Hazuki confesses to Rokka on her birthday, which is also her wedding anniversary. Hazuki won’t let Atsushi get in the way of his romance.

Ah, we enjoyed this thoroughly. First of all, the characters are adults! Just when we were about to give up all hope that such series still existed. Oh, and they’re not arms-dealing adults either; quite the opposite. They sell flowers, a commodity purchased either as a matter of course (funerals, valentines, mother’s day) or for pure sentiment. Not for killing! It’s a nice tight cast too; Just the protagonist Hazuki, his manager/would-be girlfriend Rokka, her sister-in-law Miho, aaaand…Rokka’s husband’s frikkin’ GHOST. That last one takes this out of the humdrum slice-of-life romance category and gently, subtly into the supernatural.

As a ghost, Atsushi is ridiculously low-key and matter-of-fact, whether he’s conversing with his living rival (something he notices instantly) or floating around the shop, a sight that’s as creepy as it is hilarious. Hazuki wastes no time and confesses to Rokka right here in the first episode, but that’s obviously just the first step in a long and delicate process, one that must – unfortunately for Hazuki – proceed under the observation of the last guy Rokka loved. Which should be fun to watch!


Rating: 9 (Superior)


Car Cameo:
The first car we see in the alley isn’t readily identifiable, but in another shot we spotted the spacious, practical Honda Stepwgn.