Now that’s what I call ridin’ the dog.
Stay with me here. I’ve been using the “Dari” spelling for the older brother here, because that’s the Romanization of the title. But it hit me like a ton of bricks with this surrealist masterstroke of an episode – “Dali”. I have no idea if Sano Nami was going for this in any way, but Migi and Dali has a definite Dali-esque quality to it. If you recall, I was struggling last week with how to categorize this series:
There’s surrealism here to be sure, some absurdism, obviously black comedy. Maybe satire as much as anything. Maybe it’s its own genre, though I can’t imagine too many writers trying to follows in its footsteps, and sadly we won’t be seeing any more works from the author.
Salvador Dali was a surrealist to be sure – in some eyes, the surrealist. But it was a very particular sort of surrealism, and that comes across clearly in his film work – like Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, which Dali co-wrote, and the dream sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (which he created). This may be completely coincidental – I have no idea and we’ll likely never know. But that genre I was searching for last week is definitely “Dali-esque”, and this episode more so than any other.
This danse macabre at the Ichiyama estate is truly one of the most outrageous set pieces I’ve seen in anime for a long time. It’s art, no question about it. As Eiji sets fire to the big house with the little house and sets about dying with his mother, the others are trapped in the re-education room. Karen rightly marvels at how hopelessly out of touch Akira is, Maruta-kun sets about trying to beaver through the door, and Migi decides to use his head. None of it makes much headway (pun intended), but fortunately Akiyama-kun arrives in time to save the day like the twisted superhero freak he is.
All this builds up to everyone jumping out the second-story window, with Akira getting tangled in the barbed wire (which is, you know, totally a normal thing to surround a suburban Japanese house with). But Akiyama’s flaming departure on his canine steed was a thing of surrealist beauty if ever there was one. The only problem? Eiji is still inside, and now that they know the truth it’s not so easy for Migi and Dari to leave him there to die. Eventually Dari goes in after him, finding him in the bedroom waxing poetical about being a perfect son to his perfect mother. Migi’s entrance takes us on a detour to Python-esque absurdism, but this is some pretty serious business going down here.
Eiji is a seriously, prodigiously messed up kid. He’s committed double-matricide, which even among murderers has to be a pretty rare accomplishment. But I have sympathy for him, because anyone growing up under Reiko’s smothering attention is going to be a major nutburger. Karen is the lucky one – her “mother” not giving a fig about her allowed her to grow up relatively (and that’s an important qualifier) sane. Dali is far too arrogant to admit that he wants to save his brother – he has to mask it in terms of “revenge” by forcing Eiji to live with what’s happened. But make no mistake, Eiji being their brother is the reason he’s doing this. And there’s always Migi’s cherry pie…
Miichan showing up as a sort of spectral Mary Poppins to save the boys is probably the least strange thing that happened in this episode, which kind of says it all. Eiji may have been dragged back from the brink of suicide, but he claims ownership for his crimes – and in confessing to Miichan’s murder, presumably one of his stepmother’s too. He’s going away for a while, one would assume, but in the process clearing the way for his brothers to return to their life at the Sonoyama’s house. Things are hardly resolved, however – “Hitori” is going to have a lot of explaining to do when he gets home.