Labyrinth / Cooking
The view from Igirisu:
This is probably the most slice-of-life episode so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of jeopardy. Chi and Yuu are travelling through a maze of pipes, and in the opening sequence the camera pans back to reveal the huge drop below them and the extent of the confusing labyrinth they are attempting to cross. Chi’s fear of heights has been well established, right from the first episode, and that adds a layer of unease to the episode, but when they become lost and Chi has forgotten the lantern it really becomes an anxious viewing experience. One clever aspect of this anime is that the writer doesn’t do bad things to his characters, and yet they are clearly holding on to life by a thread, surviving in a dangerous world with nobody to help them if things go wrong, so there’s always an edge of worry to it.
Fortunately the girls have each other to rely on, and that means more than you might have realised at the start of the series. They do really make a very strong team, whereas individually neither of them would be much use. Yuu is unshakeable here, in a very dangerous situation, helping Chi to continue despite her fear of heights, and quick to accept their new reality when they become lost and just get on with things. Whenever something bad happens to these two girls, Yuu is the one to immediately accept it and move on, determined to enjoy every minute of her life. And something always seems to happen at the right moment, so her carefree attitude has been proven right so far. Last week the kettenkrad broke down and then Ishii turned up to help fix it. This week the girls are lost in a maze of pipes, until Chi falls into one and discovers a route marked out with arrows. Ironically they were travelling through a labyrinth unnecessarily.
What this all shows us is that intelligence isn’t just about IQ. Chi has been deliberately set up as the clever one of the two girls, but intelligence doesn’t always equal common sense. Her idea of tying them together is a good example. It would almost certainly result in both of them dying instead of just one of them if somebody slipped, and her idea that they would counterbalance each other would just leave both of them dangling helplessly, in the highly unlikely event that they managed to pull it off at all. Later we get a very funny example of intelligence not being the same as common sense, when Chi nearly gets ground up by the machinery:
“All you had to do was run sideways.”
But then when it comes to baking rations, Chi really comes into her own, taking the lead on the cooking, while Yuu nags her like an impatient child about when it’s going to be ready. These two need each other, and neither could have survived this long on their own. It shows the importance of teamwork and friendship. Amusingly it also shows how a good friendship can involve a healthy amount of teasing. Yuu’s mission in life seems to be to wind Chi up as often as possible, and turning on the machinery again when Chi is on the belt is a good example. Yuu never lets health and safety get in the way of teasing her best mate.
An interesting snippet of information is dropped into this episode, without exposition. The camera now shows that the month is November, so the girls have been travelling for about three months since they met Kanazawa. It shows the vast extent of the city, but it also shows how well Chi and Yuu have done to survive for so long in a ruined city, scavenging for food, water and fuel. They have managed to come this far because they are a team. Friendship saves lives. RP
The view from Amerika:
I’m not keen on heights. Or to be more specific, I don’t mind them at all. I just don’t want to be up on them without a jetpack or a parachute. Watching Chi and Yuu navigate some labyrinth of pipes while walking on them was unsettling to say the least. To compound matters, they can’t stop and once they get tired enough, they are in a bad way. They can’t sleep because one false move and they fall. This is terrifying! Yet, this show would be untrue to itself if it didn’t offer us a contrast! Chi and Yuu imagine how they could fall opposite one another to create a balance and then they’d climb back up. Seems unlikely even to them. But it’s actually allegorical for me! It’s a perfect illustration of these two girls and why they work so well together. They are always falling in opposite directions creating a balance! Its who they are and what they do. Think about Chi: intelligent and always trying to feed her brain. Yuu associates living with food; she’s always hungry. I’d like to think I’m the rope; a balance of the two caught between always wanting to eat and always trying to learn something new. And thus balance is stuck and harmony ensues! Or at least I’d like to believe it.
Anyway, as they walk along, now lost, Chi’s foot breaks through the pipe and they fall inside. This might be the only thing worse for the girls. If the top of the pipe was that brittle, surely the inside will be in worse shape? They have a moment to relax and then wonder if there had been another way into the pipe before they started their terrifying balancing walk and in another beautifully rendered sepia scene, we see where the doorway was, parked mere yards from their kettenkrad.
For all their differences, when they find a giant kitchen, they learn how to start cooking. They cook themselves a number of rations and I was actually incredible impressed by this. They make the rations sweeter than they should have but they have no idea about volumes and recipes. They just know what ingredients are needed, and they start putting them in. Chi makes a neat formation of lines, the way rations are packed. Yuu makes all complex shapes, including one of herself, Chi, Ishii, Kanazawa and “that weird thing” (the fish… I love that she couldn’t remember what it was called!) What might we call this? Oh, I know! Dichotomy! Yuu remembers things to do with food but she forgets things about people, specifically things Chi tells her. To further emphasize their differences, Brainiac Chi finds herself on a conveyor belt that Yuu activates. One false move, and Chi is ground meat. Yuu activates the conveyor twice, and nearly kills Chi, but when Chi finally gets off, Yuu says “all you had to do was run sideways”. While I may be questioning Yuu’s ethics that she would risk her friend’s life, that level of blatant practicality is useful. She has certainly proved herself in this instance. Chi was too caught up in the terror, which is actually a very bad thing. She needs to be able to think on the fly… or on the conveyor belt.
The episode is a light one, but it allows the girls to gather more food for the road. Ishii’s directions helped them and they are ready to go onto the next chapter. But they do it with a healthy reminder of what makes them different. It’s The Odd Couple, 1200 years in the future, on a dying world, and with very few extras… but still plenty of comedy moments. Yet, if the food processing plant taught them anything, it’s that there’s always something to look forward to if they keep exploring. Maybe that is why they feel it’s not hopeless. Even if Yuu’s song of the previous episode implies otherwise. ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Girls’ Last Tour Episode 8
Science-fiction about friendship saving lives thankfully still endures in these trying times. Thank you both for your reviews on Episode 7.
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Two lead characters always in opposite directions of each other always make the best relationships in our entertainment. This I learned to appreciate very early on as a kid, thanks to Laurel & Hardy, The Honeymooners and The Odd Couple. Because the harmony and balance always seems to ensue when it’s realized how the opposing characters (as that old saying ‘opposites attract’ goes) can’t help but need each other. They can be friendly oppositions either dramatically or comedically annoying which, in cases like Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy, can be appropriately mixed. Science-fiction allows us the best margins for realistically opposed characters who seem destined for each other. It’s good to know that this tradition holds up today thanks to journeys like Chi’s and Yuu’s.
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