Anime Review: Bungaku Shoujo Memoire Episode 2

(Originally published and formatted on Livejournal on 1/7/11)

Anime Review:
Bungaku Shoujo Memoire Episode 2

What this is about: I made the promise that I would review every new subtitled anime show (excluding blatant yaoi and/or porn) released during the Spring, Summer and Fall 2010 seasons, so now I am going back to review a handful of shows that I missed over the past few months for one reason or another. This time around, it’s Bungaku Shoujo Memoire, a series of three special preview episodes to introduce the main characters of the film that was released on May 1st, 2010. This is the second of the Memoire specials, “Requiem of the Dancing Sky Angel”, that was first shown in May 2010, and released on DVD in October 2010.

tl;dr review: Miu goes all Fatal Attraction on Konoha; Mental abuse, plagiarism and overwhelming guilt lead to an unfortunate end.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Episode Summary: Miu was a very lonely child, with her parents always at each others’ throats leading to her mother heaping abuse on Miu, and with all the other children in school shunning her for her weird imagination. Everyone, that is, except for Konoha, who is entranced at her storytelling ability, which she picked up from the tales of children’s author Kenji Miyazawa. Eager to please, Miu begins telling him fantastic tales lifted entire from Miyazawa’s works — unwittingly at first, but unwillingly over time when she discovers she is unable to create such amazing stories on her own. Gaining acceptance for the first time in her life, she becomes insanely jealous whenever anyone or anything else vies for Konoha’s attention, desperately clinging to him for his approval.

The years pass, and the two of them remain close friends, an awkward co-dependent relationship that has uneasily survived the years. But in middle school, Miu (eager to please) says she is going to enter a young writer’s contest, and Konoha cheers her on. But in the end, she is unable to put a single word to paper, instead secretly turning in a blank manuscript and hoping Konoha would never find out. Unknown to her, though, is that Konoha also turned in his own story using a combination of her and his names, and it unexpectedly wins first place, and Konoha becomes a best-selling author. Hurt, betrayed, and confused, Miu confronts Konoha, angry at his easy success while she is suffering inside. In her despair, Miu decides the only way out is to throw herself from the roof of the school in an attempt to end her life.

My Thoughts: Bungaku Shoujo is a very bittersweet tale, and this ‘prequel’ certainly epitomizes the bitter portion of that. First of all, the titular character (Literature Girl Tohko) is completely absent (sans the opening credits), instead this focuses on Konoha and Miu as they were growing up as children. There really isn’t any new ground covered here — it is only an expansion on Miu’s tale that was covered (mostly in flashbacks) during the movie itself. But even knowing how it’s all going to turn out, this special is very emotionally charged and very powerful. While it does not exonerate Miu’s behavior in the movie, it definitely helps to explain how she reached her own sorry state. You can feel the control over her own life slipping away very early on, lie building upon lie until that becomes the *only* way she can move forward…before reaching the inevitable breaking point. The more I learn of Bungaku Shoujo, the more I admire and respect the show, definitely one of the undiscovered gems in anime for the past couple of years.

The Verdict: – Heartbreaking, and excellent.

Final reviews for a handful of Spring, Summer and Fall 2010 shows that I haven’t covered yet: Haiyoru Nyaruani 1, Princess Resurrection OVA 1, Battle Spirits Brave 1, Loups=Garous, Occult Academy Special 1-4, Trigun Badlands Rumble, and Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer

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