Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ep. 16 - Cowbell of Happiness

This episode analysis(musing) contains spoilers.  This episode analysis skims over topics and doesn't go into huge detail because each detail is really worth it's own post.  This analysis does not cover every detail to analyze but ones that I have chosen to discuss.  Also, these are my opinions and nothing official.  You do not have to accept or agree with any of this.

"Shiawase no Kauberu" 
July 16, 1997
No duel (kind of)

Haha!  We're here!  This is beautiful!  Though interesting, this is episode airs close in date to Chik-Fil-A's Cow Appreciation Day.  Oh, and it begins with rehashing the fairy tale memories of Utena.

So we have Anthy staying up late, eating potato chips, watching some home shopping channel.  What are they selling that she just can't tear herself away?  A Sebastian Dior pendant.  You can tell by the Dior name that this is meant to be some high-class fancy stuff right here.  So why does Anthy care?
Because she's trolling.  

At the Kiryuu house, Nanami is looking stunning in some green and yellow gown of beauty.  Her wardrobe is perfect no matter that it's almost twenty years later. Her mini bees are gushing over how gorgeous it is too, Keiko is first to speak up which is relevant in a few episodes.

Oh, and her ring!  Oh, and her shoes!  Oh, and her earrings!  My fashionista baby is the best dressed.  I love how her dress gives her the shoulder-pad "large and in charge" look while flattering her completely.  Did they have freakin fashion experts consulted for Nanami's timeless beauty?

Of course, Nanami isn't entirely humble.  She's got a special pendant ticketed away that she's going to present as a big unveil to get more attention gushed on her.  It sounds evil but this is actually fairly developmentally appropriate behavior from a teenager.  I'm unique, no one else has experienced this before, please notice me as unique.  Nanami craves this attention and focus from her peers.

Back to the pendant that she received.  She doesn't talk about from who but we were already set up to Anthy's tv watching.  We all learn at the end of the episode that she bought the cowbell for her own cow named Nanami (haha, Anthy's so cheeky) but the show she was watching CLEARLY says Sebastian Dior in the beginning, not Cowstian Dior as the cowbell came from.  In conclusion, Anthy bought the tiny pendant knowing Nanami's personality to outshine her peers and followed it up with delivery of the cowbell.  All hail the troll queen.

Okay, so we have the setup of the pendant and now Juri enters the room cloaked in a necklace so dazzling, the animators employed Sailor Moon sparkle glitter magic to make it shine.  Seriously.  I think Ikuhara just grabbed some of the leftover glitter from Sailor Moon just for this.

Miki looks great and everyone in the room is captured (by the awful high-waisted purple slacks, what is wrong with you Juri).  Apparently her necklace is so awesome that everyone can't even see how horrible those slacks are.  Apparently it was a modeling gift.  But Juri, if you're a model then why are you wearing those pants?  You must know they're horrible.  Burn them.

The delivery of the cowbell.  Perfect timing.  Right after Nanami is feeling one upped.  And of course, not only is the name of the company a play on the original but so is the logo and everything so EVERYBODY thinks that it is Sebastian Dior.  

Nanami doesn't even look in the box before announcing to everyone to come and look.  The box is huge therefor must be filled with an awesomely gorgeous trinket is the logic here I suppose..  Oh Nanami, look before you leap into things...  

And she puts it on.  Right then and there and everyone knows what it is.  And no one says a word.  We even hear glass shattering like someone dropped their champagne looking at Nanami wearing that thing.  

But it doesn't stop there!  She KEEPS wearing it!  She showed it off at the party, now to show it off to anyone who might not have come.  This is how amazing I am.  *walks by wearing a cowbell in confidence*

Anthy's knitting for more trolling.  Have you ever knit anything?  A sweater like she's making can take a week and that's if all you do is knit.  Not like Anthy who also cleans and cooks and goes to school.  She has been knitting and PREPARING for this high-level of trolling about to be done.  Because oh, this isn't done yet!

But why Anthy?  What purpose does this serve End of the World?  This isn't for End of the World.  This is for Anthy.  Anthy's just messing with Nanami for fun.  Nanami has always had Anthy slapped around and this is Anthy's slap back.  Just like Saionji got slapped back in the curry episode.

Everyone is staring and talking about Nanami, which is what she wants so she keeps wearing the cowbell.  She doesn't see the attention as negative, she just sees attention.  This is actually a more common behavior from children than you would believe.  Children crave attention, many kids who are used to getting attention from negative behaviors won't see the difference like Nanami doesn't.  They're getting the attention and that's what they feel is more important than how they got the attention.  

Poor Tsuwabaki is just openly stating to Nanami what no one else her age has the guts to say, and he gets his opinion shut down simply because of his age.  Not because he's right and you're wearing a cowbell. 

Utena breaks and calls Nanami out in a very pushy manner.  She sounds like her guidance counselor when she would scold Utena on her uniform.  But we've seen what pushing your opinion on someone does.  The more you tell a teenager NOT to do something, the more drawn they are to doing it.  Nanami is this.  Don't tell Nanami to stop because it will only encourage her to keep going.  Especially since she doesn't carry much respect for Utena's opinion right now.  If her brother disapproved though....

Notice ChuChu drinking that bottle of milk?  Does Anthy actually milk her cow? I suppose.  If you're gonna troll, troll hard or go home.

And now for our "dueling song" as Nanami has a dream about her shadow being that of a cow and her brother treating her as such.  I think she recognizes how weird it is but she's so committed to the attention while afraid of the implications of wearing it all at the same time.  

Then she lets the dream become reality.  Not on purpose does her personality change, but I think the weight of her fears of wearing the cowbell actually has her depressed.  Change in appetite, lack of energy.  Everyone sees her more mellow personality as a positive thing but it really isn't.  So why does she keep wearing it?

And then the hair clips!  Aren't they so cute?  Nanami, please stop your self-destructive behavior.  You look tots adorbs but at what cost?

And then she goes out to eat flowers because Ikuhara.  I really don't know what else to say about that except she's finally taken things too far.

Shadow Girl C-Ko performs the tale of the belled cat.  Lying to others ends up hurting yourself in the end.  And isn't that what Nanami is doing?  She's so focused on impressing everyone that she's destroying herself.  "You reap what you sow."

And now, the reveal.  Understand that in Japanese, there is a word for cow.  Nanami honestly didn't realize that "cowbell" was something meant for "ushi" and learns what a cowbell really is.  Poor baby really didn't know.  

Then Anthy hands Utena the sweater.  The sweater that she made completely in the wrong season. The red sweater.  The icing on this cake.  

And here is our "duel" for this episode.  Rage cow Nanami versus Utena because Ikuhara.  If you only watch one episode of Utena, let it be this one.

I love how Juri can be so deep and beautiful while being so hypocritical at the same time.  You talk the talk but we don't see you walk the walk.

Then we meet cow Nanami because Anthy is a giant troll.  A giant troll who just ordered a Cowstian Dior nose ring for her cow Nanami.  

And judging by these faces, it went to the "wrong" Nanami again and she's wearing it!  It's like watching teenagers make the same stupid decision again and again thinking "did you not just learn your lesson last time?"
No.  Never.  
This episode is important to remind the viewer that these are teenagers, these are kids.  We go through some pretty intense things in this show but don't forget, these are not adults.  These are children.

Does it suit me?

Screenshots from the lovely


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