It would seem that the goal Future Naho has set for Past Naho is not exactly what she had originally guessed. It turns out to be far more complicated. Can one person do it alone?
What They Say:
Episode 6: LETTER 06
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Even though Naho cannot change the past for her future self, she can create a new future where Kakeru is saved. Now, saving him is where things get a lot more difficult. Here, at the midpoint of the series, we can sit back a bit and admire the way Ichigo Takano has managed to inject little surprises here and there into a show that has regularly burst little expectation bubbles that one might have when viewing this for the first time without any knowledge of the source manga.
Initially, I had thought that her goal would be to prevent the accident that would lead to Kakeru’s death, thus changing the future so that Kakeru would be with the group when they had their ten year reunion. Now we learn that preventing the accident won’t solve anything. Because it was not an accident (as, I will admit, I had already suspected). Kakeru is filled with regret and guilt over his mother’s death stemming from that very first encounter with Naho and her friends. His mother was psychologically and emotionally dependent upon him (and in poor health on top of it). With a stressful new incident set for the Opening Ceremony day at school (a visit to a new hospital), his mother expected him to come home and be with her on her hospital visit. By choosing to go and hang out with Naho and the gang that day, it drove her over the edge and she committed suicide. Kakeru has been carrying that burden ever since. Eventually, it was too much to bear.
Future Naho knows this, in fact we see the moment where she learns of the truth about the “accident” that claimed Kakeru’s life. This is important as well, since we see that the sending of the letter from Future Naho to Past Naho has not even occurred yet in the future sequences we’ve been watching. So the prime directive that Future Naho has given to Past Naho is not to prevent the accident. It’s to “save Kakeru’s heart.” The only way he will be saved is if the downward spiral into depression and suicide can be averted.
This is not going to be easy to do. Kakeru has serious doubts about everything now, to the point that he cannot be fully open with his emotions. So even if Naho knows the future and knows what Kakeru is feeling now, she won’t be able to do anything unless he opens up to her. And even then, she is unsure what to do, which is, by the way, fair enough. She’s 16. So anyone twice her age or older thinking “well, she could do this…” should probably step back a moment and recall when they were 16, with so little life experience. Naho is overwhelmed.
It does not help that there are other complications. Before we even have the revelation of Kakeru’s suicide, we see the forces that stand in Naho’s way. Ueda has not given up on Kakeru and she and her friends try to find opportunities to set Kakeru and Naho apart. It’s fortunate that the rest of the gang are there to foil Ueda’s attempts to split the burgeoning couple. This helps to bring about an important step on the romance, the poolside “confession” during the fireworks at the end of the Azalea Festival.
The Bon Festival provides another opportunity for Naho to try to connect with Kakeru. The rest of the gang somehow manage, how fortunate for Naho, to not turn up, making it just a “date” for the two of them. While they seem to have fun, Naho decides she must try to push the envelope now and press Kakeru to open up about his mother. He does open up…but not in any way that Naho can “save” him. Instead, he seems to push her further away. Her good intentions apparently backfire.
As I said before, recall that she’s only 16. She has barely lived herself but is being pressured by her future adult self to save an emotionally fragile 16-year-old boy who lost his mother under circumstances that make him feel responsible for her death. The pressure is now almost too much to bear. She realizes that she’s out of her depth and needs help. It is fortunate that Suwa turns up at this point.
Fortunate? You’ll notice I’ve used that word a few times. Ichigo Takano has another, not unpredictable but still well-timed, surprise set for the end. As Yuuko Ichihara has said, “there are no coincidences.” It would appear that Future Naho is not the only one who is trying to reshape events.
While the story is being told at a gentle pace, it’s not been boring or lagging too much so far. Takano has done a good job of sprinkling in new little surprises for every time she reveals something that could have remained a mystery longer in the narrative. I give credit as well to Series Composition (head writer) Yuuko Kakihara for timing the various revelations well. It should also be noted how nice a job the show does with framing certain shots. The poolside confession did not angle upward to show Kakeru and Naho looking up at the fireworks, but instead was presented from above looking down, showing the fireworks reflected in the pool. We have also had many notable wide shots, especially of Naho in her room. It really is a solidly put together work all around.
Now to see what the second half brings.
Naho discovers that her task is not to save Kakeru’s life as it currently is. She needs to save his “heart.” Otherwise, he is likely to die even if she can prevent the accident that claimed his life in the timeline already experienced by her Future Self. A couple of major revelations are made during this episode as we see Naho feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility placed on her shoulders by the future. She could really use some help. And maybe some will be coming.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Apple iMac with 12GB RAM, Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan.