Episode 9: Seems Like A Present. Looks Like A Necklace.

First, a silly point. It is impossible to take any Japanese person seriously when they say “barrier,” since their word for barrier is, well, ‘barrier,’ and it sounds so incongruous within the context of a decent Japanese conversation. Probably just a hang-up of mine based in ethnocentrism and I should have gone to college longer in order to grow a greater sensitivity. But I ams what I ams. Techno says “barrier” a lot. It’s funny.

Ahem…anyway. This episode is kinda hard for me to judge, because it really focuses on those aspects that I like about this series and also on those that I find more repellent. After hurting Hitomi’s feelings by proclaiming her an alien, Techno decides that the world is too dangerous for the poor extraterrestrial and that an anti-people barrier is in order. He gives Hitomi a necklace which doesn’t allow her to be touched. It blasts poor emotionally conflicted Yamakawa X a dozen yards away when he tries to shake hands with her (Yamakawa later in the episode tries to become the deep personal (platonic, you sicko) friend of a goldfish. It is funny).

Quite reasonably, Hitomi is upset by this because it means she cannot go to the summer fireworks festival. However, Techno, reasonable chap that he is, has a solution – he puts Hitomi on a leash. A leash? Yep.

Now, does that make any of you cringe? ‘Cause it does me, and even though it is in service of a joke, it seems to be a little too misogynistic for even my unrefined palate. Hitomi takes it with a sort of submissive embarrassment that makes the entire scene even more distasteful.

But then we see Techno’s reaction to going to a fair for the first time. He’s nonplussed at the booths and games and toys. He acts just like a kid around them, because, emotionally, that’s what he is. Techno has never had the opportunity to socialize himself properly – he’s an emotionally stunted boy who acts toward Hitomi out of a real sense of concern, but he doesn’t have the maturity to understand the bizarreness of his action.

All that is well and good, but it doesn’t erase the fact that, though Techno doesn’t know he’s humiliating Hitomi, that is, in fact, what he is doing. Emotional immaturity may be an explanation, but it isn’t a great excuse. He acts out of a childish love, but it’s still creepy and weird, and distasteful.

Yamakawa X is funny, though.
Rating :B-

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com