Recap: Midori finally spills the beans about her relationship with Mio. As it would turn out Midori is Mio’s imaginary friend. When Mio forgot about her she lost her shadow and knew that when Midori came back she would be the one to disappear.
In the end Midori helps Riki find Mio. Riki saves Mio by following her out into the ocean. Then magic happens, they are back on land and Mio has her shadow back. Mio and Midori are reunited as one.
Lifesong’s Thoughts: I am happy to see that Mio’s desire to disappear and let Midori take her place was denied. I think Midori represented Mio’s fantasies. There was moment there were I was expecting to see this episode pull out chuunibyo as an excuse for Mio’s personality, revealing that Midori was actually the real Mio, I am happy it didn’t go that way.
What exactly are memories and why do we value them so much? What is the difference between a real memory and a fake one? These are interesting things to power, but they are fairly abstract. Memories fade easily and can be influenced by falsehoods. Mio’s desire to disappear reminds me of Taoist immortality. Immortality gained not by living forever but by instead by disappearing entirely without leaving a single trace.
Things got a little strange when Riki reached out into the ocean to retrieve Mio, but I still enjoyed this episode and overall story arc. The symbolism was strong here and I kind of feel like I need to watch it all again to make sure I understand what happened. If I followed it correctly then ultimately it was Mio who orchestrated everything. She wanted to find solitude in disappearing. She wanted to let Midori have her place. She wanted the freedom to stop being Mio.
Mio’s existence was tied to Riki’s memories. She couldn’t vanish unless he allowed it. When she asks him to close the coffin she was telling him to let her existence vanish. Mio’s poetry helps to express Mio’s desire to vanish while drawing on deeper ideas from eastern philosophy. I got the powerful moment I was wanting even if I am not entirely convinced that I fully understood it.
I wish I could find more information on Wakayama Bokusui. The philosophy at work here seems to me to be distinctly Taoist, but I will admit I do not know that much about other eastern religions. I know moderate amount about Buddhism but very little about Shintoism. I can’t help but wonder if this story would be completely lost on the majority of western minds. I look forward to discovering what other little details this story has in store when I read the visual novel.
Next episode it looks like the silly antics return! I wonder what devious things Yuiko has planned for Riki…