Love’s Cost

 

"The Roar of the Waves" shifts the narrative back to Hikari’s romance with Amane. Nevertheless, there is a strong connection between this episode and the previous one. The events that happen in this episode amount to a commentary on the issues raised in the "Summertime" episode.

The date Hikari and Amane finally manage to enjoy stands as a nice contrast to Nagisa and Shizuma’s failed encounter. It is as if the anime is bringing forward an example of how their date ought to have been. Amane takes Hikari to a place special to her, a seaside cove that she likes to go to when she wants to be alone. They walk along the beach, enjoying the place and the moment, one ahead of the other, not even imposing their presence on each other. They talk–there are no secrets: Amane finds out that Kaname and Momomi have been bothering Hikari, and Hikari tells Amane she justs want to be with her all the meshugas notwithstanding–and they become closer, even physically closer–by the end of the episode, they are holding hands, and where they had sat on opposite seats on the way out, on the way back Hikari sits next to Amane, dozing with her head on her shoulder. Of course in every detail this is the exact opposite to how Shizuma had approached Nagisa.

Framing this lovely interlude are two distasteful scenes of sexual violence, which stand to illustrate the concepts of freedom in love we discussed in the previous epiosde. At the beginning we see Kaname and Momomi seize Hikari, in an effort to break up her relationship with Amane. While Kaname attempts to compel Hikari physically to submit to her advances, Momomi waylays Amane and makes vague threats against her friends, including Hikiari by name, in relation to Amane’s standing for election as Etoile. Yaya overhears the noise of Hikari’s struggles, and saves her, enabling her to run off to have her date after all. But Kaname infects Yaya with corrupt logic, justifying her violence upon Hikari as a lover’s right, and seducing Yaya with the idea that "only love can stop love." Overwhelmed by her feelings for Hikari, and fooled by Kamane’s words, when Hikari comes back from her date Yaya seizes her and forcibly kisses her. Yaya does much worse that even Kaname had managed: she betrays her friendship and commits an actual aggression of a kiss upon Hikari. It is the ultimate betrayal.

We have already seen Kaname and Momomi attack Hikari before. I have only two points to add to my earlier comments on their sexual politics. It is curious that in a yuri drama the overt villains are also the overt lesbians. I take that as evidence for my point that the yuri element signifies not lesbian but universal human themes. The point of the drama is not physical love, which alone by itself the anime associates with aggression and violence, but human love, which, when consumated in sexuality, becomes a moment when life and art merge, a moment when the lovers become themselves the work of art, the portrait of beauty the animation displays when showing them together, unclothed, in a state of bliss, flowers and clothes and sheets strewn about in an aesthetic climax. The other peculiar element in this episode is Kaname and Momomi’s confusing rhetoric. Momomi’s threats to Amane are highly veiled; she is making some kind of threat, but what she wants Amane to do or not to do is unclear. Likewise, Kamane’s lovemaking talk to Hikari is conspicuously unintelligible. She is talking almost in a disassociated way, about global warming (!), Natsume Soseki, and then in a crazy way about herself, how she is beautiful and dangerous. She must mean to confuse Hikari and in that way overcome her resistance. Here the translation distance is important, so I cannot say more, other than to say that the anime suggests that language itself can be part of the sexual violence. Certainly it succeeds in breaking Yaya’s self-restraint and propelling her to really meretricious behaviour.

When Yaya forces her kiss upon Hikari, she unfortunately proves the point that love must be free, freely given and freely received. We may have sympathy for her frustration, but that is no excuse.  Kaname’s evil little formula–"only love can stop love"–has it exactly backwards: love only ever furthers love, even when it must–as Chiyo and Tamao teach us–surrender itself for the sake of the beloved’s happiness. Otherwise, it is not love, but selfishness and aggression, which does indeed destroy love, or at least threaten mortally Hikari and Yaya’s friendship.

Let us conclude by going back to Hikari. If we tend to think of her as the submissive partner in the relationship with Amane, this episode illustrates just how strong she has to be to succeed in her love for Amane, how much outright physical and psychological opposition she has to overcome. We learn from Hikari the next lesson about love’s freedom: even if love is free, it has a price. While one cannot seize it or steal it, one must still pay for it. Hikari will put up with all this trouble because she loves Amane. There is a wonderful moment in her conversation with Amane when she tells her just this. Amane is falling into Momomi’s insidious idea that she puts her friends at risk, when Hikari bursts out passionately that she doesn’t care, that all she wants is to be with Amane. Here she she echoes Nagisa in the previous episode, when Nagisa tells Shizuma she doesn’t care about the bars of the cage, as long as she is not lonely, as long as she is with the person she loves. For Hikari, as for Nagisa, what other people do don’t enter the scales, don’t affect her in the slightest. Since she loves Amane, she is perfectly free: all the costs imposed upon her due to that love are as nothing. Therefore she accepts them, and pays the price of enduring them. We know the depth of Hikari’s love and the degree of her freedom by the cost she bears. 

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