Out of all the episodes of Haruchika so far, I believe that episode 8 delivers the most balanced experience we’ve seen. Usually, the format is: a little music progression, followed by the building of the mystery, and finally, the character of the week, rinse and repeat. This episode managed to throw in the usual mystery format along with more music to boot. Although, some may not call it much progression for Haruchika‘s, this episode definitely had more music than any of the episodes so far. But for now, let’s get into the mystery!
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).
Remember Serizawa from a few episodes back? Well, she’s back with another mystery! You know, I wondered where Haruchika was going to go since we pretty much have all the characters from the opening in the band; I actually assumed it was going to move on to Kusakabe since his character is still a mystery, but we are back to Serizawa. Technically, she’s not part of the band, so one could consider this tying up loose ends or Serizawa Part 2. Despite that, the mystery involves not Serizawa, but her aunt and her first love!
To find her first love, Serizawa’s aunt visits the First Love Research Group and the first love sommelier, Toru Asagiri. The episode starts to get interesting from here, as Toru goes into peoples’ first loves and how their memories of it can differ from what really happened. Due to this, Toru believes first loves can be appraised; they are defined differently for each person, he says. So, to appraise someone’s first love, he uses the Proust effect, which is remembering memories through a familiar scent and I’m sure we have all been through that at some point in our lives where we smell something and remember a moment from our past. For the appraisal, Toru uses onigiri at the aunt’s request and from there, we get into her backstory.
The aunt’s story about her first love cast her as Purastelo. She is joined by Benjant, played her first love, as they are forced to feed onigiri to the Children of the Forest. Well, one day, Purastelo eats the onigiri Benjant has made, which causes him to roar in anger, banning her from the forest forever. The story itself has a dark undertone as we will find out later, but it fails to tell us the whole story. It’s a metaphor for what really happened, so one can make many inferences about what actually took place. I can understand if anyone has gripes about the backstory metaphor. A good analogy would be if someone made you a dish without telling you the recipe; sure the dish was good, but knowing what was in it is the cherry on top for our enjoyment…and our safety. Remember, folks, it’s the little things that matter!
Back to the present, we see aunty try the onigiri, which seems to have confirmed something for her due to her tears. This prompts her to travel to Hanamaki. Serizawa becomes worried, leading her to drag Chika, Haruta, and Toru with her to Hanamaki, much to Chika’s surprise. The next few scenes are important for the mystery and music portions of this series. Upon arriving in Hanamaki, Haruta and Chika decide to play some music. I find this interesting due to the fact that once Haruchika starts its mysteries, it never stops. So Haruta and Chika playing some simple tunes came as a surprise to me, since this episode decided to add some music while the mystery was still going on.
Moving on, we see aunty notices Chika and the rest and from there, we discover why Benjant became so angry. The dark truth is that Benjant poisoned the onigiri that he made for the Forest Children to get revenge. This is why he forced Purastelo out of the forest, fearing she would die from poisoning as well. Again, the backstory is nice, but it fails to deliver that finish it needed. Haruta states Benjant was out for revenge, but it doesn’t exactly state why and it only leaves us guessing based on what is shown to us. We can only assume the vengeance is for the forest children trapping and forcing Benjant and Purastelo to make food for them.
In the end, Benjant dies of poisoning as well, as he basically murdered an entire group, leaving Purastelo, or Serizawa’s aunt, to leave without her hands being dirtied. All in all, the episode was good, but it failed to make some things clear about its mystery and that is something that could throw off viewers. Despite that, the little touches of music were nice and it used the interesting concept of the Proust effect to help tell the mystery. I’d assume Serizawa should be in the brass club by now since the next episode seems to focus on Kusakabe. Knowing how P.A. Works is, I am expecting a big plot twist and am wondering what it could be. Haruchika has been building these characters through mysteries and music. With the focus being on Kusakabe next time, I wonder if the big plot twist, if there is one, will be centered around him and the main cast. The tension is getting higher and higher and I look forward to what Haruchika will give us in the next 4 episodes!
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