Episode 7 of NieA_7 depressed me. This is a major turning point in the show, where the episodic hijinks of trying to revive the Enohana bathhouse take a backseat in favor of showing The Melancholy of Mayuko Chigasaki.
The episode itself is very innocuous–Chiaki invites Mayuko to a gokon, who agonizes on it, and eventually decides not to go. The ordeal depresses Mayuko. End of episode.
However, things are deliberately paced, and I could connect with Mayuko’s self-defeatism. I’m not as poor as her, but I do have my moments where I am indecisive with the darndest things. Should I go out with my friends today? No, I don’t think they need me there, I’ll probably be a bother.
And so on, so on.
The main point of this episode is that Mayuko doesn’t know what she wants. It’s just the same as any conflicted teenager out there, but this one hits hard with how the episode is crafted. Did Mayuko really want to attend the group date? I think one part of her did, but the other part acted like a damper–you can’t go there, Mayuko. You’ll ruin everything with your appearance. You’re boring, and you know it. Who would like you?
Mayuko’s lashing out at Niea at the end is all the more painful to watch because of this. She’s had a bad day, her backing out has taken a toll on her and Niea’s presence doesn’t help. Mayuko wouldn’t normally cross the line, but she did, and immediately regretted it. Niea may be an ass, but this isn’t her fault.
But that’s exactly why I love Mayuko. I appreciate how she can have moments like this in a while. She’s vulnerable, but she keeps on struggling to stay afloat, to the best of her abilities. Even if her life is a miserable affair. Even if she’s perpetually tired or hungry or both. That messy hair, the tired eyes, and the soft, world-weary voice.