HomeReviewReview: Oniisama e…, “I Want You” and “Relapse, Broken Heart”

Review: Oniisama e…, “I Want You” and “Relapse, Broken Heart”

Episode 8: “I Want You”
Original airdate: Sept. 1, 1991
So, in the last installment, I mentioned that Mariko was feeling a tad underdeveloped compared to everyone else.

Had I known that the very next episode would put her front and center like this, I would not have even mentioned it.

I would not have even thought it because this was pretty intense.

We’ve known that Mariko is a bit (understatement) obsessed with Nanako, but “I Want You” makes the depths of Mariko’s obsession abundantly clear.

“Everyone wants to take you all by herself,” observes Tomoko at the start of the episode, talking about how everyone wants Nanako in their lives and their lives only.

While Tomoko could be, and likely is, just talking about Mariko, this is mainly true.

Despite being its protagonist, Nanako, a largely passive presence in the series, is loved and desired for her simplicity (“Nanako is Nanako. “) and this is perhaps why everyone wants a piece of her.

There’s a purity to her that transcends Seiran’s double-dealing and plotting.

For that reason, Tomoko likely reacted as horribly as she did when Mariko lied about Nanako’s obligations: it signaled a (false) change in Nanako’s very being, which rattled Tomoko to her core.

A girl looking through the glass
Fukiko Ichinomiya, the student council president, continues to exert control over the students, particularly Nanako.

Mariko’s birthday celebration is a study in increasingly uncomfortable scenarios (with a malicious love bite to the ear as a prelude).

While the actual birthday in the reserved room of the swanky hotel is more uncomfortable than anything (a string quartet?!), you feel things will generally be okay after the delightful reception the cookies receive.

And while it’s odd that Mariko is enjoying some wine with her caviar, it is her special day.

Things spiral out of control once Mariko gets the idea to have Nanako over to the house. Sure, having some coffee is fine (coffee with brandy, though?), but the night becomes a house of horrific maladjustment.

The showering sequence feels precisely as creepy as it should.

The censoring adds to the vulnerability of the sequence, as do brief asides from Nanako that give us some insight into how she sees her body and Mariko’s.

To the episode’s credit, it balances the horror of Mariko’s behavior with, at least on my end, a sense of pity for Mariko.

The teenager is isolated from peers, through her own doing, through the society of Seiran, and her parents’ behaviors and occupations.

So when Mariko threatens to kill Nanako and then herself if Nanako leaves, it feels like this, even more than her explosion to her mother in “Relapse, Broken Heart,” is the detonation of those forces in Mariko’s life coming to a head.

There’s a tragic element to seeing Nanako run away in the rain, not understanding what has just happened, and Mariko’s mother clinging to her unhinged daughter, and that’s where my pity for her comes from.

Episode 9: “Relapse, Broken Heart”
Original airdate: Sept. 8, 1991

“Relapse, Broken Heart” feels a little flat despite the apparent seriousness of Kaoru’s sudden medical problem compared to “I Want You.”

While this may sound more critical than it should, a bit of decompression is needed after the intensity of the previous episode, and we get that here, complete with a necessarily pensive tone that forces us to mull over the series events thus far.

Understanding is in people’s hearts and minds, something that Kaoru claims cannot be wholly understood, which sums up things nicely.

While this observation was made earlier, it has more weight now after Mariko’s actions.

There’s a lack of clear communication and normal relations between the girls in this series as Seiran has twisted them, and it makes it hard to determine just how to handle the emergence of Nanako, who is untainted for not existing in that realm before now.

If only everyone spoke plainly and without the pressures of Seiran around them, things might go more smoothly.

Girl with tears in her eyes in Oniisama e....
The episode delves into the characters’ emotional struggles, particularly Nanako, Mariko, and Rei.

Kaoru seems to have escaped this to a large degree. She inspires love, respect, and confidence from those around her (“She’s always shining.”), and her behavior (despite hiding her condition, save for a few folks) isn’t as pathological as those around her.

But her love for Saint Juste-sama drags her into exposure to this behavior.

In several ways, Nanako is Kaoru without the confidence and the respect.

She’s something to be loved and admired, but in a possessive sense, not a healthy one.

And that brings us to the dolls.

There’s a grudging respect offered by Saint Juste-sama when Nanako, aligned with a toy doll, slaps her to take her out of poetic funk.

And that’s what it boils down to, in a way. Nanako is a little doll that everyone wants on their shelf.

Mariko wants to keep and hold her forever and ever and ever, while I think Saint Juste-sama sees Nanako as a little toy, a yippy dog that appears now and then at her heels.

Miya-sama may see Nanako as another marionette to replace Saint Juste-sama or a paper doll to dress and mold after herself.

In any case, a real sense of control and possession drives these two episodes, and it’s something to watch as we go forward.

Random bits

  • So Miya-sama made good on her promise to protect Nanako from bullying. Not only has she threatened to make sure that Misaki never gains access to the Sorority, but if her behavior continues, she will face the full wrath of the group.
  • Dug the intercutting of the tennis match as Mariko manipulated Nanako into attending the birthday party.
  • Saint Juste-sama’s bewilderment at sorting the drugs in her pocket was funny. It was a bit sad, but it was mostly funny.

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Muskan Ghimire
Muskan Ghimire
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