Why Do I Bother? Or Asatte no Houkou’s Real Appeal

Asatte no Houkou‘s appeal comes in two folds. The first is the obvious: the scandalous “loli incest” train of thought coupled with a romance triangle with an ex, and all kinds of gutter-fetching implication when the loli turns into oppai doujinshi magnet and spunky meganekko turns into no-nonsense loli. We’ll leave that alone.

The second layer of appeal is in the mystery.

Asahou slowly reveals to us what happened in Hiro’s past and Shoko’s past. With that we can then piece together the motivation behind their behaviors. And they do act rather mysteriously, if you think about it. I think I stuck with watching it only because they held all those cards and let them lose very slowly. The initial uncertainly was partly due to that, but without knowing the full motivation, Asahou has a real hook for me.

Some background, first. If we look at what made Ruri Hoshino the smash-hit loli that she was, part of it was the passive-aggressive, mean-spirited punk attitude she held towards the adult world. Elitism breeds loneliness and independence robs you the opportunity to lean on someone else.

To apply that to Asatte no Houkou, we have to look at our three main characters: Karada, Shoko, and Hiro. Let’s start from the basics…

Every episode we are repeated the line about grasping and slipping away. I’m at a loss as to piece together a well-founded explanation as to how to explain it within the show, but at episode 5 it’s fair to say that it will be important to keep in mind.

Going to Karada first is important. She is easy to understand and so far she provides us with the boundaries; the limiting condition, so to speak, to make good guesses about what will happen thematically and plot-wise. We know she’s an orphaned girl; Hiro takes care of her and she wanted to be more independent and less of a bother to the person who she perceives to owe some emotional and physical debt to. She turned into an adult, but soon realizes that maturity is not just physical growth.

Shoko, on the other hand, returns home to Japan to find her terrible ex ditched all that she gave him to raise Karada. She’s confused and hurt, but nonetheless understands the situation and does her best for Karada’s sake. Shoko is subtle and passive-aggressive. She lets loose in episode 1. By episode 5 we find out how she was when she was little, and it further goes to explain her behavior in episode 1. In retrospect it tells us two things.

Jealousy. She is obviously troubled by Hiro’s affection for Karada; but she’s also somewhat bothered just by her perceived reason of Karada’s condition: that she’s a helpless child and of course you treat kids with the affection they need to turn them into healthy individuals. As we find in episode 5, Shoko learns that just isn’t the case.

Reaction to her change. How would you react if you turned into a little kid and your ex’s foster sister turned into an adult because she wished on a weird stone? Shoko’s no-nonsense approach seems to crack when she confronted Hiro, but it seems to have more to do with Shoko’s unrelinquished ill will towards Hiro, having not completely dealt with her own hurts. I’m uncertain why was Shoko so easy-going about it.

Indeed, because Shoko is an introvert, she doesn’t express her feelings the same way most anime characters do. Yet at the same time understanding her emotions and thoughts go a long way to understand what’s going on in Asahou. I hope the Ruri illustration was helpful.

Tetsu and his family, too, give the viewer some hints. We’re exposed to his family and his family circumstances. We know that he was raised “properly.” We also know he has a cousin who is something of a foil to him. And of course, his sister is a bit of a foil to Hiro. When minor characters speak, because they have so few scenes, what they say is probably important. When Kotomi talked about her family upbringing and how it shaped her personality, it’s a big light going off…

It all goes to Hiro. His cards will be some of the last few Asahou reveals to us. How will it explain his motivation behind his change of heart? Was he too, orphaned like Karada? Will he has to relearn the precious thing that whoever gave him his chance at life wanted he to have that he gave up? I don’t know. But that’s the right place to go.

At least, it’s the place to go if I’m not to drop this show. Less Strawberry Otome Eggs, more real drama please?

3 Responses to “Why Do I Bother? Or Asatte no Houkou’s Real Appeal”

  • Matrim

    Isn’t the name Karada, not Harada?
    The appeal of the show to me lies in the atmosphere and the characters. And when I say characters I mean mostly Shouko. I want to see what this whole experience will do for her character development in the end.
    I think the reason for her accepting the change so easily is that she simply does not know what to do in order to revert the situation and become an adult once again. But she thinks things can get back to normal somehow which I suspect stops her from getting too frustrated. If she was sure there was no turning back I think her reaction to the transformation would have been much more dramatic.

  • omo

    Karada, yes; thank you for the errata. We know Shoko came to town to get a fresh start. But just going with the flow? It may be rational, but it is not really compelling for me. Please do explain, though, why would she think things will go back to normal? I know why I think so but that is because of the chant in the OP…

  • Matrim

    The reason I think Shouko has hope things would go back to normal is quite simple – no one knows exactly what a wishstone can or cannot do and the duration of its spell. If we think of her turning into a child as some sort of illness, I think what stops her from breaking down is the hopе that the illness is curable – in other that she can go back to normal. Notice Shouko checking the library for books about the wishstone.
    Another possibility is that up to that point her life has been depressing enough in order for her not to take being turned into a child as such a calamity but I doubt the animе will go that way. There is a certain freedom of responsibiities which comes with being a child but I doubt Shouko’s such a busy woman that this is a major factor in her accepting her plight easily.

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