July 15, 2010

Ookami-san to Shichinin etc. Ep3: The Hare and the Hare

Posted in Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi tagged , , , , at 10:48 pm by meotwister5

While it is traditional for a series like this to explore its side characters at some point, it’s a bit surprising that they decided to do it rather early in the series.  Granted I can’t remember right now how many episodes this series will run, but it’s always interesting to see the supporting cast get their time in the spotlight, especially with a bizarre supporting crew such as this.  For this episode, we get Touru and Otohime.

Episode 3smotif is the Tortoise and The Hare.  The original comes from Aesop and most of you know the basics:  The arrogant hare challenges the slow tortoise to a race.  As the race goes the hare is so far ahead that he decides to take a little siesta, thinking the hare will still be miles away when he wakes up.  Lo and behold when he does wake up the tortoise is is already in front of him.  He tries to chase him down but fails, and naturally the slow tortoise wins, shaming the hare in the process.

Your mother told you that the moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race, but as some people have pointed out, there seems to be some moral ambiguities with some of Aesop’s work.  Over time there have actually been other interpretations of the outcome of this tale, most notably this:

Overconfidence will be your downfall.

That is, rather than making the the tortoise the focal point of the moral, it becomes that of the hare’s.  In this case, a moral reminder that your acquired superior skill should not make you overconfident, because overconfident makes even the best of people lose in the end.

And I find this interpretation quite apt and ironic for Episode 3, mostly because this is exactly the interpretation the episode uses. In this case it goes beyond it:  As a tale of overconfidence, it’s not anymore of a tortoise and a hare but that of the original hare and one who has become a hare. That is to say, she has become a hare and has forgotten what being a tortoise means.

Yeah, I'd cling to DEM THIGHS too.

This time we have a request from inside the Otogi Bank itself.  Otohime’s rivalry with an old… opponent of sorts named Usami Mimi flares up, culminating in both of them entering the Otogi Pageant just to see who of them is the more popular one and thus, more fitting for Touru.  What results is all forms of blatant slander, outright lies and essential backstabbing as not only does the Otogi Bank goes out to besmirch Mimi’s reputation but Mimi’s posse tries to put mud of Otohime’s chances.  Practically similar to political mudslinging as both forces go all out it trying to make their side win.

At least, that’s what it looks like Otogi Bank is doing.

That's a guy btw.

And so, Touru and Otohime get the spotlight.  Previous episodes tended to portray Touru as some sort of womanizing playboy holding on to every woman he can find.  Watching this episode we get to see that while some degree of skirt chasing is really in his blood, his devotion to Otohime is clear as crystal.  It seems HE planned the entire debacle at the end of the episode that proves to be a rather unique yet admirable twist to the cliched popularity contest episode.  He’s actually a very devoted and very caring person.

Of course the biggest focus and biggest surprise is for Otohime herself.  One would never have guessed that she was the fat kid growing up, being the typical submissive and docile girl, a far cry from the one who seems to be wearing the pants in their relationship.  Now that she had changed herself, she had become the proverbial hare.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is the irony of the situation.

Why?  There is actually no tortoise in this episode.  This has become a battle between two hares.

Girls are scary

As Otohime has become the hare she aspired to be thanks to Touru’s words in their past, it would seem she has forgotten what it means to have been a Tortoise:  Docile, slow and perhaps without a shred of confidence.  Looking at her flashbacks she seemed jealous of them, being the fat kid and all, but Touru pushes her on to show her that beauty can be achieved if one really tries.  We know Otohime wants to be pretty, but now it she has taken things too far.  In the Otogi Pageant, she resorts to the same underhanded tactics she went through in her younger days.  Lies and deceit to get what she wants, that is, to put down her rivals much the same way Mimi did to her when they were children.

Now she’s returning the favor of sorts.  It becomes a battle between the old hare and the new hare.  Mimi versus Otohime.  Both trying to destroy each others reputation in order to feel fulfilled and to gain acceptance from Touru.  Touru and the Bank of course have other plans.

This is where the story’s lesser known moral comes into play.  With Otohime now one of the hare’s that put her down, she succumbs to the very same potholes that Mimi encounters:  Overconfidence. Both are so confident of their position that they both think they are going to win with the help of their respective supports.

It's time to dudududududududuel!

The ending is as expected.  Both lose the pageant, and in fact Otohime gets only one vote.  Of course we all know who voted for her.  The Bank admits that they were never working to get Otohime to win, rather they made it such that she’d only get one vote.  Touru’s vote.  They knew that it was never a popularity contest because Otohime only did this for Touru’s acceptance.  She wanted so much to be the hare that she abandoned being the tortoise, thinking this is what Touru wanted.  In the end she became that which tormented her the most: an overconfident hare.  Through this loss however, seeing that Touru had supported her through and through, going so far as to manufacture the entire outcome just for her to remember and realize one thing.

That Touru had always preferred the Tortoise over the Hare.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwww..............

And a feel good episode right there.

Color me shocked that this episode delivered a surprising amount of depth for something based off of cliches and stories everyone has heard of.  By using lesser known interpretations of the fable and running with it, it actually managed to pull off something a bit more different than its peers.  It was a bit of a risk I think because, given the way people understood the fable, using the Overconfidence angle might not resonate with viewers.

But it did resonate with me very well.  Frankly, if the series tries to do more with such an approach, this series might actually pull of more pleasant surprises in the future.

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