By TheBigN(o U)
It doesn’t hurt being the second oldest out of seven siblings, where you have loads of responsibility but not as much as the oldest one, but you still have a little leeway to get away with some things as the younger siblings do. At least that’s the situation that I found myself in, and still sort of till today. But of course, experiences differ in that case. One thing I didn’t necessarily like about things set themselves up (because who can control when they are born, other than the powers that be?) is the fact that my social identity can still be defined based on my relationship to my fellow siblings. Now that I’m in med school while my other siblings are still doing their thing, it’s not too much of a problem. But the fact that I can still run into people who say, “oh it’s X’s younger brother/Y’s older brother” can get annoying. Naturally, this reaction is a bit over the top when considering who people are more familiar with and so on, but sometimes I feel like I’m weighed down by any comparisons made about us, as I want to be regarded as my own person.
I wonder if that sort of thing is what Sae feels like whenever Chika comes to visit. All of a sudden, the attention is squarely focused on the guest, as she gets to experience some of the more fun aspects of just hanging out. We see that Sae and Chika have their own sort of separate social identities, where whenever they are mentioned as being sisters, it’s usually as a joke (blushing = awwww :3) or not exacerbated on, though it’s there. When Yuno talks to Chika, we don’t see it as Yuno taking to Sae’s little sister, but when Sae’s talking to Chika, we know that they are related. And a lot of that tends to fall on Sae, given how she tends to be less open on some things, like how she really feels about Chika sometimes, than she should be. But from that, we can see how Sae’s interactions with Chika are a perfect example of the type of person that Sae is.
I was interested by how quickly it seemed that Chika seemed like she had always been at the Hidamari Apartments since the beginning. I think zaitcev calling this episode “earnest” makes sense when you see how Chika is excited at all she’s doing and her wanting to get involved in so much more, especially considering that they aren’t really doing anything “special” or world-blowing here. But that’s part of the charm that Yuno and co. have on her and on us. For Chika, whether it was just sitting around eating gyoza with Yuno and friends, or being a member of Yoshinoya’s riveting performance in the bathhouse, everything save for karaoke (which would have been fun if it did come true) seemed to accommodate her goal to have a great time at this new visit to her friends and older sister. It was a matter of being at the right places at the right time with the right people to share the situation with, and when coupling that with the references we see in other episodes (especially with Yuno and her cell phone) it totally felt normal seeing Chika as not just an occasional visitor, but a fellow constant member of this tight group of friends. It was understandable from her fun experience to see Chika feel that the grass was greener on the Hidamari side, hence her stating several times in the episode that she wanted to live there with everyone else (which would be awesome for me as well) and that Sae has had it nice by getting to regularly have these experiences.
But because Chika only saw the really good aspects of living at the Hidamari Apartments, it was up to Sae to become the Devil’s Advocate and keep reminding her that the situation wasn’t going to be that perfect all the time. This makes sense to me since family often tends to tell the situation like it already is when everyone else gets caught up in the flow of the situation. It’s not like no-one else has that ability, but when you lived with someone for years, regardless of whether you like them or not, a bond is formed that tends to be stronger than most stuff that’s out there. And we know that Sae’s not being a party pooper for the hell of it, but because she wants to keep Chika’s feet on the ground. While Yuno, Miyako and everyone else is happy to see Chika and are thus easy to please, it can get pretty hard for the latter to realize how rare this moment that they share is, and how not everything will be this awesome. How this day during Spring Break is totally not indicative of how days usually are for the residents when school comes into the fray, and so on.
By being the rain on Chika’s parade, Sae provides a distinct separation between the identities of the two sisters, in addition to between her and everyone else. And based on what we’ve seen from Sae, it’s totally in her character to correct how Chika sees the situation/does things (the fact that you could consider her the “father” of the foursome so works) because she cares, despite preventing others from seeing just how much she does save for her target. Thus, we get a conflict between the “real life”, usually cool and calm Sae and the bubbly, “idealistic” Chika because of how things are played out. But at the same time, it helps reinforce the fact that the two are sisters, so it ends up being a double-edged sword for Sae if she’s trying to play down that familial relationship.
When the clash between the two personalities occurs, I can totally see things from both ends. We already have Chika admitting that she’s jealous of Sae in the regard of the experience that the latter has at the Hidamari Apartments. The issue of fairness and opportunities always seem to come to a head more often than not family-wise, so Sae’s words of caution can seem like she’s also trying to prevent Chika from sharing the same good times that she’s been having. From Sae’s end, one could say that because she’s looking out for her little sister, she does not want Chika to be carried away from the good times that she has on her visits, and so she wants to provide a direction to the path she thinks is best. Often this path is never what the younger sibling wants to do and feels forced into doing what they don’t want to do, and the older sibling gets annoyed that the younger won’t decide to take that best course. In the end, it’s a series of misunderstandings and failures to recognize the other’s position because that struggle of individuality as part of a family can be a very strong motivator over other things.
Another thing about family though is that the situation can always be diffused because each side knows the other side too well, so making up is easy. Until the next time issues of mutual fairness and respect crop up again, as living together creates new, silly problems quicker then quick. This is why it helps to have a third, unrelated party like Yuno as an effective Icebreaker. Or Miyako, for another method to the same madness. 😛
Next episode: Say