HaruChika had a lot to deliver this time around and any veterans or people who have experienced PTSD will be able to relate to this episode and the mystery it brought us. PTSD in a mystery series? Yeah, it can happen. Let’s get into it!
Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen this episode, I suggest you stop here. If you haven’t watched the series, please have a look at my first impression of the show (Spoiler Free).
The beginning starts off with Chika playing her flute with Miyoko joining her, bringing us a melodic duet. Hey, Chika is improving, so good for her! Soon, after a comedic scene and entrance, we get introduced to Akira Goto, a trombone player, and guess what? We have another mystery on our hands! I must admit, the whole character and mystery of the week does feel repetitive, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel boring or overused. I mean, with every mystery we have dived into a different issue with that character and that’s something that I can enjoy, especially for this series as it gives us a glance of how HaruChika plans to go about its mysteries.
Akira’s dilemma is that her grandfather has returned, but she doesn’t believe the man is her grandfather due to the fact that he was proclaimed to be dead and had left Akira’s grandmother with a child. We find out about the elephant’s breathe paintings and how it all relates to Akira’s grandfather going to San Francisco in 1966 to be a painter. He then returned in 1977 with those paintings and apparently, amnesia. You can tell he loves painting due to the copy of La Grande Jatte, the famous Seurat painting, hanging on the wall. Hmm, something is up, especially since he likes to dodge Akira’s questions on the paintings and his time in the U.S. We can see Akira is serious about the situation, as she claims that her grandfather used her grandmother and accuses him of abandonment, which she wants him to apologize for and come forward about the whole situation.
Things start to get dark from this moment, as we learn about the Rudyard Kipling story of the elephant and its cursed chains. I’m sensing some hinting here, since we are not getting that story for nothing and Kusakabe wants Haruta and the crew to stop the investigation of Akira’s situation after seeing the painting from Haruta. How interesting for the sensei to urge Haruta to stop…perhaps he knows what happened to the grandfather, which would mean there’s more here than meets the eye! We find out that around the time Akira’s grandfather arrived to the U.S, the Watts riots were happening. This discovery leads Akira to believe he went homeless due to it, but grandpa plays coy once again and Haruta figures out what really went down.
It turns out, grandpa was drafted for the Vietnam War. I do not know the terrors of war, but if you take the time, any veteran who has war experience will tell you stories and based on those stories, let’s just say that war is not pretty. With that being said, we find out grandpa has PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) from the war and that the paintings was him seeking shelter from the defoliant by an elephant that was asleep. It was this part of the episode that got me. We can see the reason why Akira’s grandfather was so reluctant to tell Akira the true reason of why he didn’t return. I mean, who would want to? Reliving that trauma isn’t very healthy and if dealing with that stress isn’t enough, there’s also the sleep terrors that come at night. I do not know how PTSD feels, but I am currently planning on entering a profession where PTSD could very well happen to me and I have to be mentally prepared for that situation. I also liked how Haruta keyed in on how the grandmother probably knew of the situation as well, which explains why she didn’t say anything about it. I enjoyed how the episode didn’t give it away, but hinted at it due to facial expressions of Haruta and Kusakabe. A good mystery series should give hints and foreshadowing, but never reveal its mystery and I believe this episode of HaruChika did that well!
Towards the end, Akira finds out due to Haruta telling Chika and the rest of what really happened, which causes Akira to become distraught. This is how the elephant story connects to the episode as we see Akira, representing the baby elephant, going to break the cursed chains the older elephant had, or in this case, talk with her grandfather, the older elephant, and to be with him in his time of need. That was a nice moment for her character and I believe this is not the last we will see of Akira!
Overall, the episode was great. It had a good story and told its mystery of the week in a well-done manner. Relating the grandfathers past to Akira’s dilemma was well connected and use of symbolism in the form of the elephant story to tie it to the episode was also good. My only gripe with the episode was the park scene. I’m not sure if the series is setting up to pair Haruta and Chika together since he has that weird crush on his sensei. It’s something minor I have been avoiding since I thought it was just comedic relief, but it makes me wonder if Haruta is homosexual or is just going through that curious phase we all go through as a kid. It doesn’t matter if he is or not, but it would be nice if the episode touched on that since it’s brought up every once in a while. Remember, it’s the little things that matter and if Haruchika can remember that and stay consistent, the series will be one to remember!
Check out the other Winter 2016 Anime season related articles!
(Screenshot Credits: Funimation)
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