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Old 05-12-2014, 10:23 PM   #43
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 20,548

In my haste to publish my post earlier today, there were a number of things I neglected to mention. Some I had intended to include in the post; others, I'd recognized at the time but had decided against including; and still others I didn't realize until later. Some things I couldn't have included at the time because I didn't connect the dots fully until I read some of the things you guys said.1 Well, in this double post I'd like to try and cover as many of those neglected areas as possible. So sit back, relax, and enjoy Part II of my thoughts on Episode 05.

Spoiler: show

I mentioned in my original post that I found Marry cute in this episode, but I neglected to talk in detail about one particular moment that I'd found quite cute. It was the part where Kano starts reciting a poem of Marry's about sunfish. Up until this point, I really hadn't been enjoying the episode, I'll be quite honest with you. ^^; It'd felt like a huge annoying waste of time, like the worst aspects of Ene and Momo comedy rolled into one. But the idea of a world overrun with sunfish .... I thought it was both cute and absurd. It reminded me of my own daydreams. I liked how it showed an added dimension to Marry that could take pages to discuss but was transferred into our brains in just a few short seconds: the idea that Marry can rationalize death. The idea that Marry -- sweet, sweet Marry -- is a gentle soul who doesn't wish death upon anything, not even ugly sunfish (which she considers cute! ), yet realizes that if nothing ever died, then the world would soon become overrun with lifeforms. Thus Marry rationalizes the innate "goodness" of such a superficially obvious evil as death.

We haven't had any signs in a long time that would indicate that these children are immortal, but I'll go ahead and throw out there that if down the road there comes a time where we're informed that the children are indeed immortal in one way or another, this fish poem will gain an added dimension. For it will then serve as a scene which hints at the melancholy the children suffer from their immortality.

This next talking point was how I had originally intended to end my post. But as I was wrapping up my post and was asking myself, "Is that it? Have I included everything?", this obvious easter egg of Shaft's completely slipped my mind. Minutes later, I was kicking myself for having left this out of the post.

So what is it? Well, the episode ends with a very obvious visual clue. The graveyard's tombstones are arranged in twelve pie slices of roughly equal size and shape. There are two shadows in the scene, one longer, the other shorter. It's very clear what it is meant to be: a clock. And the most important clue of all comes from what the shadows are doing:

The shadow representing the minute hand is clearly moving counterclockwise.

Given the opening scene of this series ... given the many scenes of this series which have taken place inside of that clock tower, it seems inevitable that time will play a key role in the evolution of this plot. And Shaft's latest clue for us, left in plain sight at the end of Episode 05, is the most obvious sign yet that the children may be stuck in some sort of temporal loop, that time may be going backwards, that one or more of the children may be time travelers, so on and so forth. Some sort of phenomenon having to do with time.

The fact that Ayano's death has been introduced ... and that it was a suicide, no less ... it makes me wonder if this story is going to take the direction of trying to prevent her death (or the events which caused it). And if they're stuck in a time loop as a result. And if the only way out is to either a) accept her death and move on or else b) successfully prevent her from dying and move onto a new timeline.

After I submitted my original post, I read your guys' replies. I also went back through my screencaps and examined them more closely, noticing many of Shaft's artsy farsty clues which had escaped my attention when I watched the episode. In the sneak peek artwork for next week's episode (pictured above; left), we have what looks like an electrical signal near Konoha on the bottom left. Sort of like a pseudo-EKG. And then way earlier in the episode, we have this easter egg (?): a bookcase in Momo's(?) bedroom (pictured above; right) that, when emptied of its books, looks just like the electrical EKG-esque pattern seen near Konoha in the sneak peek. It's clearly not a real-life EKG, so it's probably some sort of other electrical signal. Which leads us down an interesting rabbit hole ...

Remember how in my first post I mentioned how there were signs that seemed to indicate that Konoha may not be human. Add this one to the list. I'm wondering if the pseudo-EKG symbol shown is meant to represent "a robot's heartbeat" and if its reappearance in the form of the bookshelf during Episode 05 is intended as a clue to draw our attention to it.

Another thing I forgot to mention in my first post because I was so focused on plot analysis instead of art analysis was shadows. This, like the clock, was one of the things I'd actually intended to write about in the post but forgot about come time to submit. And while Kano's shadows jumped out at me while I watched the episode, finding them afterward proved difficult. I could have sworn that there were one or two scenes where Shaft depicted Kano looking pretty normal but then he had a shadow that looked rather sinister, yet this (above) was the closest I could find in my gallery of screenshots. There was one false positive later in the episode where Kano faceplants on the sidewalk after Momo completely ignores him and asks Kido a question, but that one wasn't particularly sinister either anyway. I dunno. If someone else knows what I'm talking about and can find the shadow (or shadows) in question, that would be great.

Speaking of sinister, what was up with Kido's smile? O_o When Momo asks about the club's founder, the smile Kido gives looks really scary. It's like the sort of smile you'd expect to see on the sea witch Ursula's face as the little mermaid Ariel asks her questions that betray her willingness to give Ursula what she wants. I don't mean to read into it too much. But I also figure that with the boatload of easter eggs Shaft is hiding left and right in this series, any decision they make in animation is a conscious decision and thus we shouldn't underestimate the importance of anything, however minor it may seem to be.

Lanturn made an observation about the name Takane that was in the sneak peek for next week and started talking about Ene's alter ego or some such. I hadn't picked up on this name or the possibility that the girl in the sneak peek could have anything to do with Ene when I watched, but the idea that there is a human behind Ene has been on my radar since the beginning. (See earlier posts in this thread; I believe it was in response to Blaze.) Looking back at the screencaps, here I noticed what appears to be a jackpot picture: what appears to be Ayano, the girl in the sneak peek for next week's episode, and either Shintarou or Konoha. They're in what looks like a classroom setting and their clothes appear to be school uniforms for boys and girls. Given Ene's demonstrated familiarity with Ayano at the end of the episode and given that the mystery girl in this picture and Ene have roughly the same hair style as one another, I think it's fair to upgrade my position on Ene's knowledge of Ayano from "she recognizes her from Shintarou's computer" to "she knew Ayano personally." I think it's also fair to say that the theory Blaze, I, and other fans have been entertaining -- that Ene has a human creator who is involved in this plot somehow -- is correct. If correct, then what remains to be seen is to what extent Ene is an artificial intelligence who acts on her own and to what extent Ene is nothing more than an overglorified avatar for her creator. Is it "Ene" who has formed a relationship with Shintarou over these past two years? Or is it the girl in this photograph? Also, what relationship if any did the girl in the photograph have with Shintarou before Ayano died?

I mentioned that the boy in the photo is either Shintarou or Konoha. Well, see for yourself. It's hard to tell, isn't it? His eyes, mouth, and towering height holler "KONOHA!" while his hair color and Shintarou's established relation with Ayano suggest that it could be Shintarou. My inclination is towards Konoha right now and I'll tell you why. First off, if the girl in the sneak peek is indeed Ene's creator (and/or Ene herself), then it stands to reason that her foil -- the dark-haired boy on the right -- is Konoha's creator and/or the inspiration for Konoha's design. Like, maybe Ene's creator had a crush on Konoha and created an android in his image. Maybe she created Ene to get closer to her crush. Except ...

... see, this is where things start to get really weird and mindfucky, and it's hard to tell to what extent I am barking five yards up the wrong tree and to what extent I'm nailing it. The thing is ... I can't help but wonder about Shintarou's and Konoha's relationship. Was it really an accident that Shintarou ran into Konoha this week? Is it really a coincidence that Konoha seemed so determined to approach Shintarou? That Shintarou seemed to remember the name "Konoha" even though he couldn't remember having ever met anyone like Konoha before? I can't help but to wonder ... what if the mystery woman (Takane?) created Ene ... and what if:
  1. Shintarou created Konoha?
  2. the mystery woman created both Ene and Konoha, and created Konoha in Shintarou's image?
  3. the mystery woman, having a crush on Shintarou, used Ene to get closer to the real Shintarou and used Konoha in the meanwhile as a substitute for the real Shintarou?
Something else: if that is in fact Ene's creator in the picture above, then we may have a love triangle between Ayano, Konoha/Shintarou, and Ene's creator. What if Konoha's amnesia has something to do with Ayano's death? What if the reason for Ene's existence has something to do with Ene's creator having gotten very depressed over Ayano's death and holing herself up inside of her house? Questions. Questions that will want answers in the coming weeks.

Two final things. First, the mysterious grade on Ayano's paper. Tell me: what do you guys think the first number (the one currently on our right and, presumably, upside down) is supposed to be? I'll be damned if I can tell what it should be, although my best guess would be a very poorly written 5. It's strange: the Japanese know very well how to write 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 from what I understand, so I don't know why that mark to the left of (to our right of) the 6/9 looks so unlike any of the ten Arabic numerals.

Second, and perhaps more intriguing, the mystery of Ayano's school uniform. While most Japanese schools have different uniforms for the seasons of spring/fall, summer, and winter, typically those three uniforms will match in color and general design principles. They're not usually completely different. Yet Ayano, in the picture two pictures above, is shown wearing the same clothes as the mystery girl -- a red plaid skirt, a pale yellow cardigan, and (presumably) a white blouse underneath. Contrast this with what she's shown wearing in the picture above: a navy blue sailor school uniform with white stripes, a uniform so textbook it seems plucked straight out of the pages of an encyclopedia. I have a hard time believing that the same school would have Ayano dress in one of those uniforms for one season and the other of the uniforms for another season. So either:
  1. Ayano transferred schools and so she has two different school uniforms, one for each school
  2. one of the Ayanos is fake
  3. one of the Ayanos' school uniforms is imaginary / was not worn by the real Ayano
  4. Shaft's art director is behaving irresponsibly
  5. other
It may not be much, but it's something to consider considering how much effort Shaft seems to go to to use art as a means of foreshadowing or hinting at information to be revealed in the future.

1 And by "some guys" I pretty much mean just Lanturn since Lost did not say much that was safe for TV viewers to read while Yuki didn't say much that informed my thoughts here, I think. Sorry, guys. ^^;
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