(Warning: spoilers for The Pet Girl of Sakurasou)
This week’s Thoughtful Thursday will look at a particular scene in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, episode 21. Nanami Aoyama is troubled after failing to become a seiyuu despite two years of training which she paid for all by herself. First, some background about episode 21 will be given. Next comes a summary of the events in that particular scene. Finally, I’ll write about my personal feelings on these emotional moments in anime.
Background for Episode 21
Lately, everybody at Sakurasou is stressed out or having a hard time. Their small dorm (Sakurasou) is due to be closed and torn down after they graduate in a year. The residents only have a few days left to gather signatures for a petition to stop the destruction of their beloved school home. Misaki’s attempts to win Jin’s love have failed. Mashiro’s manga is successful, but she’s sad and confused about other issues. Nanami Aoyama didn’t pass the final exam for voice-acting, which could have landed her a job with an agency if she had passed.
What Happens in This Scene?
On a rainy school day, Nanami starts shedding tears in the middle of class. Sorata goes to check on her in the nurse’s office, but she says she’s ok. The oblivious Sorata accepts this and goes out into the hall, where he gets a call. His agent for the new video game pitch informs him that his game proposal was not accepted. Sorata is crushed. He can’t stand how hard this failure hits him. A text from a friend reminds him, though, that Nanami probably isn’t really alright. Forgetting his own pain, Sorata looks for his classmate. He finds her standing outside in the pouring rain, blankly staring at the bare trees.
Sorata tells Nanami that she’s done enough. She doesn’t need to keep working so hard. Nanami responds that she’s not some kind of saint. She only worked hard as an excuse, she lies. Sorata sees through the bullshit and says there was much more to Nanami’s hard work than that. As Nanami breaks down and is calling herself an awful person, Sorata tells her to stare the results of the seiyuu test right in the face and accept it. “I’ll listen to anything you have to say,” he adds, encouraging her to vent. Nanami grabs onto him, and, crying, says the following.
“What about my two years?! When my friends went to karaoke or shopping, I had work.
I did everything because I didn’t want to regret playing around or slacking off.
I cut back on what I could spend. Of course I wanted to have fun, but…!
I gave it everything I had, but… But it’s meaningless! There’s no meaning!
If I failed the audition, it’s not worth anything!
Tell me. Tell me why, Kanda-kun. What were my two years worth?
Why wasn’t it me? Why wasn’t I good enough?”
All Sorata can do is hug Nanami tight and tell her that she worked hard. Harder than anyone. He’s crying, too. Nanami cries and cries it all out of her system in Sorata’s arms. Then they return to the nurse’s office to get dry and warm. Nanami has a fever and the nurse orders her to stay in bed the rest of the day and take some medicine. When Nanami asks Sorata to talk about something to make things less awkward, the boy explains how his game screening failed. Nanami apologizes for making it all about herself when he was suffering, too. Sorata replies,
“I failed, but I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I failed the title screening.
No, that’s a lie. Really, I’m not happy at all. It sucks.
I feel I’ll cry if I let my guard down. I feel I can’t take it anymore.
I need courage to try again, but I’m a coward now.”
Nanami understands, and says she can’t try again either, at least not anytime soon.
How I Feel About This scene
This scene is very meaningful for me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. There are three main themes: 1) the pain of failing and wasted effort; 2) regret vs. acceptance; and 3) not being able to try again– not right away– because you need to grieve and rest. Let me say a bit about those three points. First, I hate what I feel is wasted effort. It just hurts so much. Even over small things, feeling like I wasted effort makes me furious and/or depressed. As of right now, I have nothing to show for all of my hard, hard work in college, because– degree or no degree– I haven’t found a way to hold down a job in my field. It’s pretty tough with crippling anxiety disorder, a chronically weak immune system, and mood swings.
Regret versus acceptance is very important. Ideally, if you put a lot of work into X, or you spent a lot of time with Y, you shouldn’t regret it if you fail at X or lose your relationship with Y. In reality, though, it’s extremely tough to hold back thoughts and feelings of regret. I regret things too often, such as relationships or life events. The regret is so painful that I start to forget about the relationship or events entirely. In other words, it’s easy to renounce everything you did as being pointless, just like Nanami said in the rain. What’s harder is to be appreciative of the experience, but not even Sorata can keep up the lie that he’s happy he failed.
Not being able to try again sounds awfully pessimistic, but really, it’s just realistic. If something defeated you so entirely as it did for Sorata, you simply don’t have the heart, will, or motivation to care enough to try again. You need to take a break and try to heal. Of course, this is a temporary state. At some point, if it’s something important to you, or something necessary in your life, you need to try again. For a go-getter like Nanami, it took her less than a school term to start planning what she would do next with her dream of being a seiyuu. For some people, though, it may take years to build the courage and motivation to try again. And it will never be easy.
I will add a note of my own experience so it might be considered by others with depression and regrets. I believe there’s no such thing as wasted effort. If you put your heart into something, then the experience had meaning and worth, even if the results were terrible. “Meaning” is a concept unique to humans, and we have the power to decide what is “meaningful.” My last two failed jobs had meaning because I decided they have meaning. I have doubts at times, but I sincerely believe nothing is meaningless or wasted unless you decide it is.
This is Anime Rants, and I really appreciate your readership! Ja ne!