Circadian Rhythm? Must be a pretty rare retro game, I never see it for sale.
Last week we had quite a bit of attention on introducing Akira and her reconnecting with Ko. As well as his present night life situation with Nazuna.
This time around we dial in more and focus on what Akira has been going through in the present. She is the star of the episode. As she has at least one leg still planted in daylight hours for school: we can also see how strong of a contrast there is in its depiction.
School life and its related hours are hazy, and Akira has a clear lack of joy or even basic engagement. Another indistinct student has the misfortune to go so far as to fall asleep in class and catch flak from the teacher. But, Akira is only treading water herself. Head in her hand, tapping her notebook with her pencil rather than writing anything down. She is unfocused, with the unstated goal of just getting through the day.
A mechanical and repeatable burning of the hours.
All of which is in service of heading straight home, and getting ready for bed.
As you may remember from when I touched on some of the production staff back during my write-up of the first episode, Call of the Night has Tomoyuki Itamura as a Director. He has a long history with anime adaptations of the Monogatari franchise, including Nisemonogatari. He was an Episode Director for, among other things, its eighth episode.
You may know it as the one featuring a notorious Toothbrush Scene.
I would have been quite surprised had anything of a similar scandalous nature occurred here. Indeed, nothing of the sort does. But it was a definite topic at the front of my mind from the second Akira picked up her toothbrush. Instead we just have a standard midshot as she does the basics in the mirror, and we move on. Which is, of course, the actual point. It is as her life is. She has done all of this dozens and dozens of times over, we can infer. Every day, the same thing. No spark, no satisfaction.
Get through it, so you can check it off and burn down another candle tomorrow.
Akira is struggling with depression. As Ko is. Just in different ways.
The one part of the episode which departs from Akira for a moment has Ko attempting to come to terms with Nazuna kissing him the other night.
Not a small peck or a light brush or anything. But it really was quite a big kiss. Even before the additional sentimental moment multipliers, like it being on an overstreet walkway in an empty city at dawn. Or it being his first kiss. It would signify a heck of a progression step in their relationship.
Ko, jumping to conclusions, takes this as a sign he has achieved his goal of falling in love with a vampire. He is quite proud of accomplishing this tremendous journey. And with such speed!
This would be ridiculous of course. As is made plain in the process of setting this scene up: Ko finds the often elusive Nazuna right away at the park tonight. He takes the opportunity to walk away, rather than go to her and use the additional time he would otherwise spend tracking her down. It is also clear she was in a mood where she wanted to be found. She was waiting for him.
Which of course then allows Nazuna to cut Ko down to size in two directions. One calling him out for not finding her sooner in the night. The second (and more devastating to Ko) coming in the form of his grandstanding about having fallen in love with her proving false. She explains yet again: if Ko was in love with a vampire and the same vampire drinks his blood, then he would become a vampire. He has not.
He has confused himself, much to her amusement, over the differences between lust and love.
As established last week, Akira and her chronic sleeping problems have led to her taking early morning walks hours before school starts.
At least for this one night, she has trouble staying asleep even past midnight. With the intention to walk for even more hours before school starts, she runs into Ko. She is correct to ask if he is out to visit the vampire, and she in turn is asked if she would like to join them.
While the three hung out for a bit the other week, it was in a more introductory sense. Touches of Nazuna and Akira getting a sense of the field of play. It was also in a more “neutral” space, between a park and a restaurant. Nazuna having Ko and Akira over at her own apartment for late night videogames is a different flavor. In particular because Nazuna welcomes her over all the same.
These are not scenes of two parts of a love triangle taking endless snipes at each other.
Some folks could call out the anachronism aspect to having the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection version of Street Fighter Zero 3 / Street Fighter Alpha 3 played on a “Our Legal Team Said This Is Different From An Original PlayStation.” But Nazuna coming across some kind of wild custom case mod for other hardware would almost make sense in its own way. I just appreciate the use of real footage of Ryu and Chun-Li from the actual fighting game on any level, rather than making up low quality knock offs. It helps lend a certain grounded feel to the apartment hangout.
Anyway, Nazuna offers to give Ko another kiss if he wins. But the prize is impossible to reach without the necessary dedication. Which is a definite metaphor for the larger situation he is in. It also allows Nazuna to get another hand waving verbal knife into Ko. She can make a legitimate claim to Akira about how Ko does not like-like her or anything.
Nazuna has the most foolproof way of verifying love, and we have seen Ko fail every time.
Nazuna also offers to kiss Akira if she wins, which is turned down.
As Akira gets to thinking about things, she is relieved about how wholesome the situation Ko has found himself in. Someone who has stopped coming to school and has been getting involved in night time hangouts could be in a number of worse situations.
Even if Ko still refuses to go to school even within the fictional confines of a romance visual novel game.
No sleepover would be complete without, well, getting out the bedding.
Even if this hangout was never framed this way to start with: it is now raining. Akira can not just walk around for a few hours before school in such weather.
While Akira already knows Nazuna is a vampire, confronting the subject as Nazuna gets her nightcap drink from Ko provides her an opportunity to ask further questions. Why does Nazuna keep picking Ko, why does Ko allow Nazuna to keep doing this, and so on. She asks not out of frustration or anger, as some romantic comedies might for a character gag. Her tone is conversational curiosity and seeking understanding. Getting everyone on the same page. Up to and including the dream Ko has of becoming a vampire. Which means: it is now his turn to explain how being bitten is not enough.
Ko needs to fall in love with Nazuna.
Nazuna even encourages Ko to talk about the goal where he wants to become a vampire. She is proud to hear him say so. While she tries to steer the conversation away from the part about falling in love, it is not out of trying to maintain any vampire secrets. She is, as ever, embarrassed and shy about the subject matter. But Ko tells Akira anyway because he feels she needs to know this. He wants her to know what he is up to so she does not feel a need to worry.
And for her part: Akira is also clear in stating how Nazuna will need to become more comfortable with the subject of romance.
I for one appropriate how subjects like this are repeated and re-verbalized throughout the series. I am sure some people would consider it repetitive. But, I appreciate the LEGO brick snapping aspect of seeing the characters pick these thoughts up and place them together. There is less hidden information between the characters. They can have more honest engagement with the more serious or personal subjects at hand between various romantic comedy gags. Such as what comes next.
When all three are settled on the bed, Ko and Akira have a heart to heart chat while Nazuna is turned around and facing the other way.
I appreciate the choice to never insert any further reaction shots of Nazuna. The futon is just large enough for all three of them to fit. We know she is going to hear anything and everything. She will drink all of this in as well, and stew on it. This is enough, because nobody is hiding much of anything here. Akira touches on topics from hand holding to floating the idea where Ko and her can still be friends even if he becomes a vampire. Like how Ko has his friendship with Nazuna now.
The unsaid gears perhaps only starting to turn in her head: the idea of Ko becoming a vampire and drinking from Akira. With all of the implications therein.
She sleeps so well she almost wakes up too late to make it to school on time.
Ko is too adjusted to his sleep schedule to do more than wish her a good day. Leaving Akira with one last potential obstacle before leaving: Nazuna.
This is the first instance of the two getting to have any private conversation. For all her theatrical gravitas of standing in the doorway, Nazuna has a rather simple question. People tend to sleep well when they are satisfied with their day, so… was she?
Akira can not deny the possibility.
Maybe. For the first time in a long while.
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