The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Asami Yūki

Hige o Soru. Soshite Joshi Kōsei o Hirou.: Whole-Series Review and Reflection

“Change happens by listening, and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.” –Jane Goodall

Sayu decides to take up a part time job at the local convenience store, and Yoshida brings Airi to meet Sayu. Later, Sayu runs into Yaguchi Kyouya, who Sayu had slept with previously. Yoshida manages to convince him to back down, and Sayu’s coworker, Asami, later shares her past with Sayu. Later, Asami notices a vehicle tailing Sayu; her older brother’s come to take her home. Sayu realises her time is probably up in Tokyo, but manages to attend a summer festival with Yoshida. The next morning, Yoshida meets Issa Ogiwara, Sayu’s older brother. After the two sit down to talk and ascertain Sayu’s situation, he agrees to give Sayu two more weeks to sort things out. Sayu later explains to Yoshida and Asami that she ran away from home after befriending a classmate who committed suicide from bullying. Because her mother accused Sayu of what had transpired, Sayu left home and attempted to make it on her own. While Yoshida is initially reluctant to help Sayu, believing that she should face her family problems on her own, in his heart, he also wants to go. Yoshida’s coworkers spot this and assure him that work will be fine, so he accompanies Sayu back to Hokkaido, where Sayu returns to her school and comes to terms with what happened. Upon returning home, Sayu’s mother remains as cold as ever, but after hearing Yoshida’s words about what a parent’s responsibility entails, she relents and allows Sayu to stay. Yoshida prepares to return home, and Sayu declares that she’s fallen in love with him, prompting Yoshida to reply that he’d be ancient by the time she were an adult. Upon reaching his apartment, Yoshida realises that Sayu had a much larger impact on his life than he could’ve imagined. Two years later, Yoshida remains as dedicated to his work as ever, while Sayu graduates and slowly makes reconciles with her mother. One evening, Yoshida turns down an invitation to hang out with his team after work, and encounters a girl under the same lamppost where he’d first met Sayu. She asks Yoshida if it’s cool for her to stay with him for the night, bringing Higehiro to a close. Despite its provoking premise, Higehiro ended up being continually full of surprises, with a strong message for viewers willing to overlook the fact that such a premise is outright illegal in reality.

At its heart, Higehiro is a story about listening. Yoshida embodies this concept particularly well throughout Higehiro – at work and in his personal life, he listens to what those around him say before making a decision, rather than speaking up all of the time. By listening rather than speaking, Yoshida is able to understand what those around him intend to do, and with this knowledge, he is better prepared to determine what his next move is. The advantages of listening are numerous, and letting other people lay their cards on the table first gives one the upper hand in a situation – knowing someone else’s viewpoints and intents corresponds to having more information with which to make a satisfactory decision. When Sayu enters his life, Yoshida hears her out and determines it’s safer for her to stay with him (even if it is contravening the law), and similarly, upon learning that Issa has shown up to pick Sayu up, Yoshida patiently listens to Issa’s explanation of what had happened, formulates a course of action in his mind and manages to convince Issa that two weeks will help Sayu to set things in order. During their tense conversation with Sayu’s mother, Yoshida is tempted to act, but instead, conducts himself with restraint. Hearing Sayu’s mother express the depth of her hatred for Sayu for the first time allows him to fully understand what Sayu had undergone, and in this moment, Yoshida realises that Sayu’s mother is someone to similarly hear out. By exercising patience, and then replying in kind, Yoshida is able to make a reply that deeply affects Sayu’s mother, enough to convince her to at least give Sayu a chance at a fresh start. Yoshida’s tendency to not speak his mind is initially one of his shortcomings, and while most situations allowed him to tough it out, his coworkers immediately spot how Yoshida oftentimes does not follow his heart, which has led him to regret some of his choices. By supporting him and encouraging him to speak up every now and then, Yoshida’s coworkers also play an instrumental role in getting Yoshida to Hokkaido, where he succinctly makes a case for why Sayu’s mother is the only person with the right and duty to ensure Sayu is looked after until she becomes an adult. The balance of listening and speaking is masterfully presented in Higehiro, and the series aims to suggest that by listening well, one can also speak better to affect positive change in those around them.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After taking up a part time job at the nearby convenience store, Sayu befriends Asami, who provides her with a peer to speak with. The sum of Sayu’s meetings with people who are willing to listen to her play a large role in helping her to open up; Asami had come from a family of lawyers, and against their expectations, she desired to be an author above all else. When she takes Sayu to a spot special to her, it shows Sayu that people in the world do accept her for who she is.

  • I was initially surprised to see Airi and Sayu meet so early on, but in retrospect, it makes sense, given that Higehiro is about Sayu’s road to recover. By eliminating the possibility for external drama, Higehiro is able to focus on its core story; in other series, secondary plots can represent a rabbit hole of sorts, complicating things and potentially introducing challenges that may not always be satisfactorily resolved. In the case of Higehiro, Sayu continues to encounter mature and reasonable people after meeting Yoshida, and while they may not know her circumstances fully, they are more than willing to support however they can.

  • The whole of Higehiro is about how patience in extenuating circumstances is what leads to understanding, and subsequently, how this understanding corresponds to helping one to find their footing anew. The changes in Sayu are gradual: while she’s found Yoshida and his kindness, her previous experiences lead her to occasionally wonder if Yoshida will cast her out. This concern is what causes her to try running off again after learning Yoshida is bringing Airi to his place, but the reality was he’d wanted the two to meet.

  • I ultimately found that the dynamic between Sayu and Yoshida resembled how an older brother might regard a younger sister, or how an uncle would look after a niece. Yoshida and Sayu feel more like family than two strangers as Higehiro progresses; all thought of failed relationships are benched as the story focuses on how Yoshida begins to care enough about Sayu to want her to properly resolve whatever problems had led her to run away to begin with. This aspect of Higehiro particularly impressed: while the possibility to go off the rails was always present, the series was consistently heartwarming and disciplined.

  • The further into Higehiro I got, the more I felt bad for Yuzuha, who’s clearly head-over-heels for Yoshida and openly expresses it to him even in the knowledge that his heart is elsewhere. In spite of her own feelings, and her seeing Airi as a competitor, Yuzuha herself is not unkind, helping Sayu to lay low when she’s not quite ready to face her brother and head home. During my watch of Higehiro, I found Yuzuha to look quite familiar, and I finally recalled the rationale for these thoughts; she resembles a coworker from my previous position.

  • While Sayu’s time in Tokyo begins running out, she is able to spend a worry-free and memorable evening with Yoshida at the local summer festival. Being with Yoshida gave Sayu the strength to face her own problems, and she begins to consider a future where she does return home to get things sorted out. However, a part of her also worries about being unable to do so, and this is why Yoshida consents to let her stay; he wishes to give Sayu as much time as is appropriate to let her prepare herself, so long as she has a plan in mind.

  • After the bliss of attending the local summer festival together, Sayu comes face-to-face with her older brother, Issa. While Sayu’s reactions suggested that he cut a threatening figure, after Yoshida sits down and gets another perspective of the situation, he manages to buy Sayu two weeks in which to sort her affairs out. Contrary to appearances, Issa is reasonable, and after the situation is clarified, he and Yoshida share a cordial relationship, being able to speak openly to one another. This is something Higehiro does well: even the scummiest characters can be spoken with and understand where the lines are drawn.

  • I appreciate that this is to be quite unrealistic, since reality is nowhere nearly as kind, but from a narrative standpoint, it allows the story to focus purely on Sayu. After her brother’s arrival, the two weeks timeframe is shorter than Sayu had hoped, but traditionally, I’ve always found that giving people moderate stress oftentimes drives them to perform better and push themselves harder. Knowing she will have to go back pushes Sayu to finally open up fully to Yoshida; she shares her past in full with Yoshida and Asami.

  • It turns out that Sayu had always been a bit of a lone wolf at school and despite her appearances, never got along with the others. She befriends a classmate, Yūko, who was similarly introverted, but when the popular clique learns that one of the male students has a crush on Sayu, who always seems so aloof, they decide to go after Yūko instead, who is driven to suicide after the bullying takes an ugly turn. This is no trivial matter: I’d grown up dealing with bullies, and the resolution I found was that they’d been salty about my book smarts. Once I showed them the same book smarts could help them out, the bullies became people I could get along with. Of course, it helped that I also took up martial arts to bolster my confidence, but I appreciate that for some folks, bullying can seem like an insurmountable barrier.

  • In the aftermath of Yūko’s suicide, Sayu felt backed into a corner; her own mother refused to support her. Sayu felt like she had no other options beyond running away from home, and Issa found himself unable to help. This downward spiral is what led Sayu to Tokyo, where she exchanged her body for a place to stay during her lowest point. Devoid of any meaningful human relationships and connections, Sayu’s view of the world became distorted, and it was only through a chance meeting with Yoshida that she is able to recover.

  • In the end, Yoshida is able to do what Issa couldn’t, and in doing so, earns the latter’s respect. I imagine that Yoshida’s able to succeed here for a few reasons; firstly, as an outsider, he brings to the table a completely different perspective, and since he is so far removed from the challenges that Sayu and Issa had faced, he is able to approach problems in a naïve manner (that is to say, without knowing the nuances, he attempts to help Sayu without worrying about worrying about nuances in her scenario). Secondly, as a hard worker and honest person, Yoshida focuses purely on helping her to find her happiness in a way appropriate for a minor.

  • I understand that Higehiro isn’t for everyone: for one, the scenario is about as legal as discharging a firearm in city limits, and many variables are eliminated, essentially giving Sayu a straight shot back home without any serious external impediment. The real world is rather more complex, but for the sake of a story, it is acceptable to abstract out complexities so long as the flow of events lead to a clear message being conveyed. Consequently, gripes about the social and legal facets of the series as being implausible or unrealistic would run contrary to the theme in Higehiro: taking a step back and listening to what is being said. The equivalence of this in games would be complaining that it should be impossible to heal up bullet wounds by ducking for cover and waiting a few seconds.

  • Of course, if some folks do demand that level of realism in their anime, that’s their call: so long as no one is demanding I study up on Greek mythology to understand why a given review is the right way of approaching an anime, I won’t mind. Conversely, if someone does reference something only literature or philosophy students would study and suggest that it’s mandatory reading (rather than recommended reading) to understand why a work succeeds or fails, I would count the review as being . Back in Higehiro, on Sayu’s last day in Tokyo, Asami calls Yoshida to report that Sayu’s disappeared. It turns out she’d wanted to check out his office at least once, and got lost along the way, but is otherwise fine.

  • In the end, Yoshida follows his heart and accompanies Sayu back to Hokkaido, even taking her to a café of sorts. However, the true challenge lies ahead yet; besides heading home to have her first face-to-face with her mother in over a half-year, Sayu also wants to return to her school, where Yūko’s life was tragically cut short. Sayu had intended on making this visit alone, but upon reaching the school rooftop, finds herself overcome with emotion. With Yoshida’s presence comforting her, she is able to continue on.

  • Yoshida’s words to Sayu are similar to mine: he suggests that the best way to honour Yūko’s memory would be to live her life as fully as possible and take the step forwards where she couldn’t. While Sayu doesn’t notice this, the school’s replaced the old railing with a large fence to prevent future suicides; this simple change demonstrates that contrary to what Sayu believed after her mother’s words, Yūko was missed, and her death galvinised the school into taking more active measures to ensure bullying is addressed so it does not lead to another suicide in the future. There’s very little to go on, but I felt that the fence could be a visual metaphor to represent the changes that took place. Thus, to ensure Yūko did not die in vain, Sayu must find the courage to embrace her own future.

  • The most trying moments in Higehiro come with the long-awaited conversation with Sayu’s mother. Although Yoshida is tempted to douse her with his drink after hearing for himself how much Sayu’s mother hates her, the more rational, pragmatic side of Yoshida steps in, and he speaks his mind about how a parent has obligations to guide their children along. Yoshida’s speech is a very optimistic and naïve view of the world, but it is strong enough to make Sayu’s mother uncomfortable and forces her to re-evaluate what her next steps are. She subsequently consents to speak with both Yoshida and Sayu, reaching a détente of sorts with the two and agrees to give herself a second chance with Sayu.

  • Higehiro‘s denouement allows Yoshida to rest easy, knowing that Sayu now at least has a home to go to while she finishes off her education, and that she’s managed to overcome the challenges that sent her to Tokyo initially. In their last night together, Sayu coyly asks Yoshida if he’s still in for some horizontal refreshment to remember her; after everything they’ve gone through, such a moment comes across as purely comedic, and in typical Yoshida fashion, he declines, saying that he’ll remember Sayu always.

  • From a technical perspective, the voice acting and music in Higehiro are of a fine quality, while visually, the anime is more rudimentary: the artwork and animation are consistent, but nothing eye-popping. The appeal in Higehiro lies almost entirely with the conversations the characters share, and here, Issa thanks Yoshida again for everything he’s done. He surmises that, in spite of Yoshida’s protests otherwise, Yoshida surely has fallen in love with Sayu.

  • Sayu certainly has fallen in love with Yoshida and asks him to wait for her even after he turns her down. His reply suggests that she might’ve had a chance after all, although this is left ambiguous. One of the more heartbreaking moments in Higehiro comes after Yoshida returns home and finds it empty; he wonders if he’d been the one in need of saving after making some miso soup that tastes nothing like what Sayu had been able to make. Fate will bring the two back together in two years’ time, suggesting that the anime is done adapting all of the original light novels.

  • Altogether, I enjoyed Higehiro for its conversations and optimistic messages about recovery even when one hits rock bottom, and how unexpected encounters are able to transform one’s perspectives, as well as how people can help one another. This series is a B (3.0 of 4.0, or 7.5 of 10), being a consistent journey that managed to traverse a razor’s edge without devolving into a foxtrot-uniform-charlie-kilo par-tay or offer a social commentary well beyond what the story demanded. I will note that Higehiro was tricky to write for, which is why this post is shorter than usual, but with Higehiro in the books, I have a clean slate entering the summer season. The Aquatope on White Sand aired earlier today, so it’ll be time to catch up and then share my thoughts on the series.

Higehiro‘s initial premise existed at the edge of a slippery slope – anime of this sort have every opportunity to get things wrong and send the story down a trajectory of lust and accompanying suffering. However, every step of the way, Higehiro wound up being an immensely heartwarming story about how support for one another is mutual, and how people can help one another out whether or not they’re in love with one another. Meeting Yoshida shows Sayu that people do care for her, and that she should also care for herself. The chance encounter with Sayu shows Yoshida a side of relationships that he’d not previously understood – that falling in love with someone is much more than dating them and physicality. It is a matter of opening oneself to being vulnerable, to share problems and deal with them together. It speaks to the discipline in the writing that Higehiro never devolves into a story about giving in to temptation; Yoshida is driven by a desire to do right by Sayu and himself (as well as a healthy reminder to himself that, in his own words, he prefers older, buxom women like Airi). The end result of Yoshida’s discipline and preferences means that to Sayu, he acts as a caring older brother or father figure, guiding her down a path that she is comfortable pursing, and leaves her better equipped to pick herself back up after such a tragic incident in her past. For this reason, Higehiro proved quite unexpected and moving, showing that in this world, decency often manifests through listening to people and hearing them through wholly before making any decisions – the end result is quite touching, and seeing all of the characters for what they really are through this is a reminder that, given the patience to understand them, most people are reasonable and can be spoken with. While Higehiro does present things in a highly optimistic manner (reality isn’t always so kind, and not everyone can be reasoned with), it is the case that folks who prefer to listen have the upper hand, as those who prefer to talk tend leave their cards facing up.

Hige o Soru. Soshite Joshi Kōsei o Hirou.: Review and Reflections After Three

“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” –Sam Keen

After his kokuhaku is shot down by supervisor and coworker Airi Gotō, Yoshida wanders off into the night after downing a few too many drinks, and encounters a high school girl under a lamp post. She introduces herself as Sayu Ogiwara and makes him a proposal: in exchange for letting her crash at his place, she’ll boff him. Shocked, Yoshida immediately declines, but allows her to stay anyways. The next morning, he learns that Sayu has made him miso soup, claiming that he’d been talking in his sleep. With the effects of the alcohol gone, Yoshida wonders what to do next, since Sayu is a runaway from Hokkaido who’d been going from place to place, trading her body for a place to stay. Worried about Sayu, he reluctantly lets her stay with him until she can go back home, on the condition that she help him with household tasks and not make any advances on him. Yoshida’s coworker, Hashimoto, hears about this situation and promises to keep quiet about it. At work, junior Yuzuha Mishima’s inexperience causes a project to go off schedule, and Yoshida sticks around to help her rectify her mistakes. She repeats a rumour floating around Yoshida, wonder if he’s got a girlfriend now that he’s looking well-kept. As a result of working overtime, Yoshida decides to pick up a mobile phone for Sayu, and explains that it’s to help them keep in touch should anything arise. Later, after spotting Yoshida with Yuzuha, Sayu becomes jealous and runs off. She coincidentally runs into Yuzuha, who offers her some advice before Yoshida arrives to bring her home. Sayu tries to seduce Yoshida again, wondering why he’s been so kind to her, and he explains that ever since she’s arrived, his life’s become more colourful, making him look forwards to coming home each day. Hige o Soru. Soshite Joshi Kōsei o Hirou., or Higehiro for brevity, has been a very curious series insofar: its premise was certainly attention-grabbing, and as Yoshida is quick to comment, opens the floor for disaster if not handled properly.

While Higehiro appears to be walking a tightrope with its content, the series immediately sets about conveying a story of emotional closeness over physicality: Yoshida immediately spots this about Sayu, and openly states that he’s into older, well-endowed women. He rebuffs Sayu for even considering seducing him, and constantly warns her not to do so. At the same time, he treats Sayu kindly as a result of his own nature; at work, Yoshida always picks up after the messes his coworkers leave behind in addition to getting his own work done. Yoshida is someone who wants what’s best for those around him, even if there’s a cost to him, and as a result, his actions for Sayu are strictly that of a friend’s. Indeed, Yoshida is an admirable character, although his manner means that, similar to myself, he’s not attuned to what’s around him. Yoshida is someone who knows what he wants and is confident in stepping up to the challenge, but when things blindside him, he’s unable to regroup. This makes his character immediately relatable, and while he certainly doesn’t see Sayu as a love interest, he does come to greatly value the warmth and companionship that Sayu brings into his life. In this area, Higehiro excels; Sayu seems to represent what most anime would do given such a premise, and then in the opposite corner, Yoshida represents what any reasonable person would go when placed in such a scenario. Where the two opposing approaches clash is something that Higehiro presents as a part of the journey, sometimes heartwarming, sometimes poignant, and sometimes humourous. I am therefore pleased with how the series has chosen to handle a most unlikely meeting and its consequences, as the story is moving in a direction that creates a very pleasant sense amongst viewers: Sayu is in a better place and can take the first step towards her recovery, while Yoshida now has something in his life to look forwards to beyond his work, and as a result of Sayu entering his life, Yoshida will undergo change that will help him to move on from his failed kokuhaku.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Higehiro‘s opening begins in a manner I’ve bore witness to: Yoshida is a hardworking and successful individual, but lacks luck in his love live. After working up the courage to make a kokuhaku to his senior and supervisor, Airi, he is shot down in a most painful manner. Unlike Yoshida, however, I tend to drown my sorrows in a good book or game – my acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes are less effective than that of the average person’s, and since I glow in the dark after drinking a few, I choose not to drink at all if I can help it. I joke to my peers that my weak enzymes mean that my sorrows have learned to swim. Further to this, unlike Yoshida, who runs into Sayu after getting wasted, I’d previously slept things off and woke up the next day with the resolve of bettering myself.

  • If Yoshida’s life had run the same way as mine, however, there’d be no Higehiro, and as such, we’ll allow highly improbable events to run their course to accommodate the story. Almost immediately after Yoshida and Sayu return to his apartment, Sayu attempts to get the party started, only for Yoshida to fall asleep immediately and groggily mumble that he’d totally be down for some miso soup. The next morning, Yoshida is shocked to find a high school girl in his apartment: he’d been so drunk he’d had no recollection of anything, and Sayu takes the time to explain what had happened the previous night.

  • Things thus get to an awkward start, since Yoshida is at a loss for what to do next after hearing Sayu’s story. However, her miso soup proves to be excellent, and despite entering Higehiro with no a priori knowledge, that Yoshida takes a liking to Sayu’s soup foreshadows what will happen next. It sounds like despite his physical attraction to Airi, Yoshida had also desired a deeper connection to her. Thus, when Sayu whips up the same miso soup he’d expect Airi to make, Higehiro suggests that despite a rough start, Sayu and Yoshida will develop the sort of emotional connection that the latter had most wanted from a relationship. This is what I seek from a relationship – I wish most to be depended on, reliable and there for someone at all times.

  • In the absence of a partner, I work hard for those around me so I can pursue my one great love, of giving back. While Higehiro is very much about the emotional aspects of a relationship, Sayu has very little understanding of this and initially, believes that her only way of repaying Yoshida’s kindness is with her body. She comments that she’s got very nice figure for someone of her age and would have no objections to Yoshida seeing if she’s comparable to Airi. Naturally, Yoshida declines to comment and settles on a solution – as long as she doesn’t try anything funny with him, he’ll allow her to stay while they determine what Sayu’s next steps are.

  • At the office, Yoshida seeks counsel from Hashimoto, his coworker and friend: unlike the serious Yoshida, Hashimoto has a more laid-back personality, although he is every bit as competent and efficient as Yoshida is. Yoshida trusts Hashimoto a great deal – he’s the first person Yoshida gripes to after losing Airi, and he confides in Hashimoto about the whole Sayu situation. Hashimoto suggests keeping quiet for now and seeing what he can do to get Sayu back home to Hokkaido. Unfortunately for Yoshida, Sayu’s mere presence induces a slight change in him: he begins shaving regularly, and his female coworkers notice that his shirts are now ironed. They suggest that Yoshida must’ve found a girlfriend of sorts, which could become problematic if the truth got out.

  • For me, I shave every morning, even on weekends, mainly because I hate the feeling of facial hair, and I iron my own shirts and pants. In Yoshida’s position, I imagine even the most eagle-eyed individual wouldn’t be able to notice the difference, since I tend to have a pretty good poker face about such things. After noticing that Sayu’s posture has worsened, he decides to get her a futon. Sayu is perplexed by Yoshida’s kindness: previously, to keep the men who’d taken her in happy, she put on a fake smile and offered her body as payment for lodging, but with Yoshida, she cannot see why he’s doing this for her without expecting something in return. Sayu’s reaction to Yoshida’s looking out for her is actually a saddening one, suggesting that despite her friendly personality and dazzling smile, she’s got a bit of emotional baggage coming in.

  • Consequently, Higehiro would do well to show how kindness and openness is a powerful tool on the path to healing. The ten-year gap between Sayu and Yoshida means that Yoshida sees Sayu as a child. He treats her as a teacher might a troublesome student, going the extra mile to keep an eye on her and as often as he can spare them so she can get back on her feet. He picks up moisturiser for her here and contemplates getting her a phone so he can reach her in event of emergencies, but she declines the phone, feeling it to be a burden and also fearing it will put her in further debt with Yoshida.

  • Because of Sayu’s beliefs about repaying debts and the fact that Yoshida can see through her fake smiles, I expect that Higehiro will eventually cover how Yoshida will begin helping Sayu to understand that debts incurred between individuals can and should be dealt with by way of returning favours, rather than through sex. This really speaks volumes to how rough Sayu’s had it, and even without her explaining what had led her to run away from home, it’s clear that she’s made a series of poor decisions. Yoshida, however, indicates that running away shows that she’s probably spoiled – someone with the resilience and faculties to deal with situations when things don’t go as one would hope wouldn’t run away, but seek to solve their problems. However, given what Sayu’s gone through, being with Yoshida is something I imagine will kick start her recovery: despite all she’s done and gone through, Sayu’s still kind at heart.

  • Yoshida’s junior, Yuzuna, is the typical ditz who barely manages to get by, but despite her comparatively poor work ethic, she respects Yoshida and is competent enough when the moment calls for it. After Yuzuna submits a build riddled with bugs before a release, Yoshida makes her stay after hours to iron out the issues. In exchange, he buys her dinner from a nearby convenience store. While Yoshida works for an IT company, and he and Yuzuna are seen working with an IDE, it’s hard to pin down whether they’re in IT or software – any software company using Agile will likely have a CD/CI system and QA teams, so that things are pushed and tested thoroughly before reaching customer hands. Fortunately, how software companies work do not figure in Higehiro, and I’ll accept that their work is similar enough to mine, but inconsistencies will not impact overall thematic elements for me.

  • After returning home late from work, Yoshida finds that Sayu’s prepared dinner for him. While Sayu feigns anger at his coming home late, she reveals that she’s not actually mad at him, and finds his reactions amusing. He promises to eat in the morning, and here, I note that Yoshida’s on the money when he notes that Sayu is more like a child than a peer, naïve in the ways of the world, and also cute in her own right.

  • Initially, I thought this moment, of Airi and Yoshida having dinner together, was a flashback, but it turns out that Airi is curious to know how Yoshida turned around so quickly. The truth would violate several laws, and Yoshida notes that nothing interesting had happened. In exchange for having answered her questions, Airi allows Yoshida to ask her any one question, and Yoshida immediately asks what Airi’s bust size is. Airi consents to answer, revealing that in this area, Sayu’s completely beat.

  • After Yoshida gives Sayu a phone, the two exchange contact information. For Sayu, this is a symbolic moment, indicating a fresh start and a chance to learn things anew (such as how to properly express gratitude). While Sayu can come across as a spoiled brat who is ignorant in the way of the world at times, Higehiro has done an excellent job with the characters insofar, and I find everyone likeable, respectable enough for me to hope that they make those critical discoveries that will help them along.

  • Sayu begins feeling uneasy with the arrangement she has with Yoshida: whereas previously, men had immediately jumped on the “benefits” piece of such an arrangement, Yoshida’s done nothing of the sort, and instead, simply has her keep busy around the house while he’s at work. Her insecurities kick in here, and she wonders if Yoshida will soon see her hit the bricks if nothing should happen. This is, of course, contrary to the sort of person Yoshida is, but it also says a great deal about how much Sayu’s gone through. At the third episode’s beginning, there’s a flashback (or perhaps a dream) in which an unknown individual is getting it on with Sayu, but Sayu’s eyes are completely lifeless.

  • While Yoshida’s other coworkers have no qualms about the unexpected changes in his style, Yuzuha is taking exception to all of the rumours, and it’s clear that she’s smitten with him. Of course, Yoshida sees Yuzuha as an unreliable but well-meaning junior who needs more supervision, seemingly oblivious to her feelings. Of course, this infuriates Yuzuha, who kicks Yoshida in frustration. Yuzuha is voiced by Kaori Ishihara, whom I know best as Rinne no Lagrange‘s Madoka Kyono and The World in Colours‘ Hitomi Tsukishiro.

  • As thanks for having bailed her out again, Yuzuha invites Yoshida out for a movie. However, while out and about, Sayu spots Yoshida with Yuzuha. Consumed with jealousy, she runs off – while Sayu had initially thought that Yoshida was at most, an acquaintance and therefore wouldn’t be attached to him, as she had with the previous men she’d stayed with before they’d evicted her, the sight of Yoshida with Yuzuha elicits a different response.

  • Yuzuha meeting Sayu is pure coincidence, and her words to Sayu suggest that she should step her game up. Yoshida catches up soon after, and it was a bit of a tense moment, as I wondered whether or not things could get out of hand here. However, I imagine that Yuzuha sees the relationship between Sayu and Yoshida as that of family: she doesn’t ask questions at all or even suspects anything, so I conclude that at least, for the time being, nothing crazy will happen. It is conceivable that the truth could get out towards the end of the season, but whether or not that happens will be a bridge to cross once we actually get there.

  • Sayu’s actions can therefore be thought of as a manifestation of her own lack of confidence and insecurities. She’s desperate to know why Yoshida seems resilient to her advances, but eventually stands down and explains that this is how she came to scratch a living after running away from home. There’s a desperation in her voice, and in this moment, Yoshida understands where Sayu’s coming from.

  • Yoshida’s hugging Sayu is more an act of compassion more than anything: with this embrace, he’s saying that he gets where Sayu is coming from. With this being said, he’s not in love with her, and that certain acts are reserved only for people he’s genuinely in love with. With this in mind, assuming that Higehiro will go with a route that resembles reality, I would think that the best possible end goal for this season would be to eventually see Sayu return home and make amends, then get her life in order. Once this is resolved, I’d be okay with whatever ending the author goes with, as emotional closure would’ve been achieved.

  • Because Yoshida is resolute and strong-willed, the same traits that allow him to succeed at his job allows him to convince Sayu that her advances are probably not coming from the right place. She subsequently realises that Yoshida is as truthful as can be about what he thinks of her: Yoshida’s life has become much more pleasant, as he’s able to look forwards to something beyond work. Yoshida’s remarks speak to the idea of appreciating the ordinary, and that in a world that is as hectic as we know it, knowing that one can come home to a quiet conversation and meal is very reassuring indeed.

  • Realising that she can be true to herself, Sayu notes that while she and Yoshida might be lonely and pathetic, they’re now lonely and pathetic together. Even in spite of himself, Yoshida concedes that Sayu’s real smiles are cute. With this, my talk on Higehiro after three draws to a close. Ever since I’d read about the premise, I’d been curious to see how this one turned out, and thus far, I am not disappointed. With this post in the books, I intend to write about Yakunara Mug Cup Mo at the halfway point and may do the same with 86 EIGHTY-SIX. In the meantime, it’s time to go file my taxes, hang out with some mates via ZOOM (or whichever tool of their choice is), and then kick off my Modern Warfare 2: Remastered experience.

As I am a complete novice where Higehiro is concerned, I have no idea as to what will happen next. However, what Higehiro has done in its first three episodes is establish that this is going to be a story about understanding one another, the idea that togetherness is more about the mental aspects than the physical, and that unexpected events in life oftentimes help people to contemplate their past stumbles and come out stronger for it. Together with an immensely likeable cast, Higehiro has proven to be remarkably entertaining and encouraging. Rather than go down a slippery slope, Higehiro instead chooses to explore the human side of relationships, of things like trust, conflict resolution and honesty: having established that Yoshida has integrity, viewers can be reasonably assured that Higehiro will not likely devolve into crude jokes, and instead, draw humour from the interactions between a man and high school girl as they strive to make their current arrangement work. In doing so, both Yoshida and Sayu are expected to learn more about one another, as well as themselves: this is about all I can say with reasonable confidence with what I’ve seen insofar, and I’ve got no idea of where Higehiro actually ends up going beyond my own guesses. With this being said, as long as Higehiro stays true to the route it’s already established, this could prove to be an entertaining series with interesting insight as to what romance and relationships entail, well beyond the physical components. As such, I’m looking forwards to what happens next in Higehiro; this setup is as every bit as outlandish as what was seen in Kanojo, Okarishimasu, but three episodes in, Yoshida has proven to be a much more reliable and relatable male lead than Kazuya Kinoshita, whose indecisiveness and weak will was to that series’ detriment. Of course, my thoughts on Kanojo, Okarishimasu will be a story for another time.