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Bungaku Shoujo Memoire ep. 2

December 05, 2010 By: Nopy Category: Anime

“What is true happiness?”

This is the question that is posed in the second episode of Bungaku Shoujo Memoire. In stark contrast to the bright, colourful world of Touko Amano in the first episode, here we delve into the dark and lonely past of our second heroine, Asakura Miu. Imagine a little girl parents that are constantly fighting and venting their anger on her. In order to escape her life at home, she escapes into the world of novels and even starts telling her own stories at school. However, all of her classmates call her a liar after hearing her stories and she is left alone.

Then, one day a boy actually listens to her stories and sounds excited to hear what happens next. That is the start of the relationship between Asakura Miu and Inoue Konoha. As the episode progresses, Miu’s view of Konoha changes from that of a friend to a possession, and when she thinks that she has lost him, she commits suicide. Now, before any of you get mad at me for “spoiling” the ending, they show Miu committing suicide in the very first scene, so that’s not really a spoiler. What really impresses me about this episode was the way it was delivered. There’s so many things to cover so I’ve broken it down into several sections.

Miu’s Room and Light

One thing that anime has an edge on over the novels/manga that they are based on is the use of imagery to convey the feelings and emotions of the characters. Few series manage to take advantage of this, but Bungaku Shoujo made excellent use of it. Before Miu meets Konoha, we get a glimpse into her room, a dark place illuminated by a few dim lights. At this point Miu is unhappy, but the books that she reads still gives her hope about the future, represented by the lights around her (I also want to point out that her desk lamp is off, keep that in mind for later).

After she is befriended by Konoha, Miu is again shown in her room, but this time it’s bright and cheerful. Konoha was the first and only person to ever treat Miu like a friend and he was like a source of light her dark world.

This all changes when Miu visits Konoha’s home for the first time. She discovers that Konoha has a loving family and a pet bird (Chuchu) that he takes care of. In a fit of rage, while Konoha isn’t around, Miu stomps on his toys and kills Chuchu.

That night, Miu laments about what she did in her room. Konoha is no longer that shining ray of light that she viewed him as. He has others that he cares for, not only Miu. This is again reflected in her room’s lighting, whose only source of light is now her small desk lamp.

Later in the episode, when Miu and Konoha are in Jr. High, Miu finds herself having to chase away girls from flirting with Konoha. At the same time she finds that she is no longer able to write stories for Konoha anymore, the main reason why he befriended her in the first place. Miu’s fear of losing her only source of light in her life was conveyed by the flickering of her desk lamp as she sits staring at a pile of blank pages.

You Belong To Me

While Miu might have viewed Konoha as a friend at first, she shows signs of possessive behaviour as the two of them spend more time together. During Miu’s visit to Konoha’s home, her initial actions of stomping on his toys may have been due to jealousy over Konoha’s loving relationship with his mother, but killing Chuchu was different. At first she paid no attention to the bird, it was only after Konoha left Miu to get some food and water for it that Miu became upset. In her eyes, Konoha was spending time with something else when he could have been spending time with her.

Miu again shows this behaviour when they’re in Jr. High and other girls are vying for Konoha’s attention. Out of fear of losing Konoha to someone else, she confronts anyone that gets close to him, even proclaiming to one girl that Konoha “belongs” to her.

At this point it is clear that Miu belives she would be left with nothing if she ever loses Konoha, something that eventually leads up to her death.

Do You Like Me?

Miu asks Konoha if he liked her twice during the episode. The first time was when they were children and the second time was in Jr. High. Both times Konoha simply blushed, looked away, and avoided the question. In my view this was Miu’s way of confirming that Konoha wouldn’t leave her because if he did like her, then he wouldn’t leave her even if she stopped writing stories.

Konoha’s reluctance to answer the question may have caused Miu to display the possessive behaviour I mentioned earlier. What I would like to know though, is what Miu’s answer would have been if Konoha has posed the same question back to her. I don’t think that Miu would have cared who listened/read her stories as long as that person was always there for her, giving her some sense of meaning to life.

Ironically, when Konoha finally gave the answer Miu was waiting for, she failed to see it and instead believed that Konoha had abandoned her. Miu strongly believed that Konoha would leave her if she stopped writing stories, but she also believed that if Konoha wrote his own stories, she wouldn’t be needed anymore. The latter happened when Konoha published his first novel, “Resembling the Sky” which is the same book that Touko Amano was so enthralled over in the first episode. Surprisingly, Konoha used the pen name Inoue Miu, which to me seemed like a discreet marriage proposal (remember, Inoue is Konoha’s family name).

Not only did Konoha express his feelings in the pen name he used, but also in the story he wrote. If you take a look at what was stated in the first episode and combine it with this one, you can piece together what Konoha was trying to say. The story is about two lovers, Hattori and Itsuki; Hattori is like a bird, while Itsuki wants to be like a tree. As we all know, trees provide shelter and a home for birds. Hattori is a character based off of Miu, while Itsuki is based off of Konoha. In other words, Konoha wants to always be there for Miu and support her no matter what happens. It’s really sad that Miu wasn’t able to understand this, instead being preoccupied with the thought that the only person that ever listened to her stories is now writing his own and therefore doesn’t need her anymore.

Giovanni and Campanella

Anyone who knows about “Night on the Galactic Railroad” by Miyazawa Kenji will recognize it as the first story that Miu reads to Konoha. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it’s about Giovanni and Campanella, two people who travel on a train that moves across the Milky Way, carrying passengers to the afterlife. Along the way, Giovanni and Campanella encounter many different things and people. At the end, Campanella disappears while Giovanni returns home, indicating that Campanella has passed on. In Bungaku Shoujo, Miu states that she wants to be like Campanella some day, and Konoha says that he’ll follow her anywhere just like Giovanni. This foreshadows what’s going to happen to Miu in the end.

One more thing that Night on the Galactic Railroad brings into this episode of Bungaku Shoujo is the question “what is true happiness?” Miu thinks she finds happiness when she meets Konoha, someone who likes her stories and spends time with her, but is she really happy? In the episode, we see that Miu views Konoha more as a possession than a friend (recall Chuchu and the girl that tried flirting with Konoha). Her whole life, with the exception of Konoha, Miu has been ignored and bullied. Konoha gave her a sense of purpose by offering her an audience which she could tell as many stories as she liked. When that audience disappeared, Miu lost her sense of purpose and therefore her will to live. Miu failed to recognize that she was no longer alone; she failed to see that happiness was right there in front of her.

Ending Thoughts

Unlike the first episode, this isn’t a story about a girl that discovers the beauty of life, but one that only sees the darkness. Despite the gloomy ending, I thought it was well-written and executed. No detail was left out when explaining Miu’s life and the reasons for her actions. The use of literary and visual technique, along with a subtle, yet expressive soundtrack immerses the viewer into the world of Miu and Konoha and gives a glimpse into their innermost emotions and insecurities. This second episode was really worth the watch and is one of the best episodes of anime I’ve seen in years.

The third and last episode of Bungaku Shoujo Memoire will be released on December 24, and will cover the final heroine in ther series, Nanase Kotobuki. That will wrap up everything you need to know before watching the Bungaku Shoujo movie. Hopefully it’ll be as good as the first two episodes.

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20 Comments to “Bungaku Shoujo Memoire ep. 2”

  1. oh no.. not the birdie T_T… what did the birdie do?!

    lol just wondering, im doing some product research. would you buy the following? Most of these PROBABLYwont be sold as “official gear” @_@.. because of lack of funds to procure license. i wonder if retailer stores will carry them. anyone reading this thread/post, i appreciate any inputs ^_^..

    1) “Touhou” wall graphics. Vinyl prints that u can apply, remove, and reapply onto your wall to make your own danmaku design. *although because of licensing issue, id probably call it “danmaku wall graphics” vs. “Touhou wall graphics” @_@.. not sure about the licensing issue, since there are doujin circles cashing in without license *i think*. doesnt have to be touhou/danmaku related.

    2) ice trays that mold anime related items. Ex: Leek (miku), Guitar, Bass, other instruments (k-on), heads of anime characters (Nanoha, Cirno, Ika). i dont think items are licensed =P..

    3) popsicle molds of anime related items *see above*

    4) anime related shower curtain. shower curtain with leek patterns! lol

    5) a clip adaptor that you can use to replace that boring plastic base for your figma/nendo/petite nendoroid. im sure people run out of places to display their figurse, soooo display them in thin air! lol

    if you have any ideas, feel free to suggest lol.
    sorry for posting a largely, 90% unrelated post haha.
    alucard13mm recently posted..K-On! Mio Akiyama embroidered parka by Cospa

  2. @alucard13mm:
    It’s so sad, the bird’s only crime was being taken care of by Konoha.

    As for your research:

    1) Depends on how well the images look. They’ve gotta be better than the posters I already have up to get on my wall.

    2) No, I have an automatic ice machine.

    3) Probably not, it’s winter for half of the year here, popsicles aren’t very popular.

    4) I have sliding doors for my shower, so no.

    5) In all likelihood, yes, I’m tired of the plain clear plastic bases that nendoroids always come with.

    I hope that helps, and good luck!

  3. I haven’t watched the second Ova so far, but I liked the first one a lot.
    So theres no Tooko in this OVA, right ? too bad I thought
    they would show more of Konoha’s and her relationship.
    because of my impressions from the Movie I totally despise Miu, maybe I ‘ll like her a bit more in the Ova =D
    As said I’ve already watched the Movie, I guess I should have waited…
    Well I will watch it again after all Ovas were aired :)
    Fabienne recently posted..Dressing up PVC figures

  4. lol is there not laws for animal cruelty in japan?

    hmmm i suppose i will strife to make it as good as these examples for snes games.

    once i obtain a sample of the graphics and see how it exactly works, what its made of, and how durable, ill try to find a manufacture to copy it but touhou/anime style XD
    alucard13mm recently posted..K-On! Mio Akiyama embroidered parka by Cospa

  5. @Fabienne:
    Unfortunately, there is no Touko this time. I’m saving the movie for when the last episode of Memoire comes out since that’s the order they’re supposed to be viewed.

    There probably are, but Miu killed the bird in secret.

  6. @ Nopy
    hehe I think it’s better to watch it that way your saying.
    they aired the movie too early, so I thought the OVA’s
    werent that important ;(
    Well for me theres nothing wrong with doing a
    rewatch when everything is available.:D
    Fabienne recently posted..Dressing up PVC figures

  7. Great. Something else to go on my “to watch” list. You read my mind by the way–I was immediately screaming “spoilers” in my head, haha.
    Arianna Sterling recently posted..Anime Review- Honey &amp Clover

  8. @Arianna Sterline:
    Hope you enjoy it :)

  9. Wow, I love what you wrote about the use of light. ^ ^
    The dim room and the few lights in her room creates a powerful imagery/ atmosphere. Anyways, the story sounds kind of dark.

  10. @Yi:
    It was pretty dark, especially considering out light-hearted the first episode was.

  11. SaikoBlitz says:

    It’s a good thing I’ve come here. I wanted to see how people reacted to this episode, and here I find an awesome review of it :)

    Thanks for the meal :)

  12. I wanted to watch both OVAs of this before posting, even if it is 15 days later.

    I wasn’t too impressed with the first OVA. It was good but I wanted it to continue building on Touko Amanos’ story. I guess that’s what the movie will cover.

    But this second episode was quite stunning; although awfully grim. I keep thinking over, “how could the suicide have been prevented?”, but I honestly cannot think how the characters in their situation could have identified Mius’ mental state. It makes you as a viewer feel helpless as this tragedy unfolds.

    I look forward to seeing what the 3rd OVA has in store.
    BioToxic recently posted..Sousou Marvelous Model by Zigz Toys Warning NSFW- 18

  13. @SaikoBlitz:
    Glad you liked it.

    I thought it was great how they managed to create such a complex character, it’s really hard not to feel sorry for her after seeing what happens. I’m hoping the 3rd OVA will be as good as this one, only a few more days to go ^.^

  14. I’ve not seen this episode but I’ve saw the movie. Asakura Miu gave me the creeps for being extremely possessive and insane. I was quite disturb with her suicidal attempts. =W=
    flyzice recently posted..Delicious Food- Tangyuan

  15. i can’t believe she killed the bird!! i was sympathetic until she did that. but honestly i can’t judge, since she really did come from an awful background, and she seemed like a very sensitive kid who would’ve reacted badly to an ostracized childhood.

  16. @gracee:
    It’s sad, but a poor childhood can create some messed up people.

  17. I finally watched it, it was an interesting OVA,
    at first I felt a lot of sympathy for Miu
    but what she did with Chuchu was too cruel
    so ended up in despising her again XD

    I also watched the last part which was more my taste,
    but its a shame that there are only 3 OVA’s
    I would like to see more info about Maki Himekura and Chia Takeda.
    Fabienne recently posted..Review- Chris 2009 Santa Version by Beagle

  18. @Fabienne:
    I wanted to know more about Maki and Chia too, I was wondering for the longest time who they were since they weren’t really introduced in much detail.

  19. Such insightful remarks! I really enjoyed all three stories, but for this one your post sheds a lot of light on it. Do you spot the symbolisms immediately or is it after a few watches?

    • I was expecting a lot of symbolism in Bungaku Shoujo so I was actively looking for it when I watched it. For any other series I’d probably miss a lot of stuff.


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