The Girl in Twilight – Episode 8

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. When last we left off The Girl in Twilight, we’d just completed Chloe’s world, and defeated a malicious AI in order to… restore peace to the Amazon delivery peninsula? Frankly, I’m not entirely sure how Asuka and her friends’ actions actually changed the conditions of Chloe’s world, considering their current lifestyle was established long before the introduction of any malevolent Clusters. And when you couple that with Chloe’s arc not really possessing any thematic heft beyond “the power of friendship,” you end up with an arc that was undoubtedly The Girl in Twilight’s weakest yet, with Sexy Yu doing an absurd amount of work to keep things interesting.

Fortunately, with Chloe’s arc concluded, The Girl in Twilight will presumably now be interrogating Asuka’s long-suffering best friend, Yu. While Nana, Mio, and Chloe clearly all value their friendship with Asuka, Yu is clearly her closest confidant, and a reflection on her life will undoubtedly serve as a reflection on her relationship with Asuka, as well. After all, as we learned in Chloe’s world, Sexy Yu actually lost her own Asuka, which presumably had a major effect on her values and self-image. The Girl in Twilight is at its best in two extremes: when it’s digging into the subtle edges of its characterization, and when it’s embracing the absurdity and doppelganger-driven potential of its strange worlds. I’m hoping for both, but would be happy enough with either, as we dive once more into The Girl in Twilight!

Episode 8

Warm late-afternoon light guides us into another convincingly mundane conversation, where Chloe reveals she’s switching her college track from liberal arts to programming. So I guess she did learn something from her world beyond the power of friendship

“Ooh, look at this! The troubles of youth!” Asuka is weird in such a specific, charming way. Frequently, “weird” anime characters fit into specific molds of over-exaggeration, hyper-energy, and lots of either slapstick or nonsensical statements. Asuka’s not like that, though; she’s a genuinely convincing dork, with specific styles of play-acting, like her consistent return to this goofy old man persona. Comedy should not be written as something that exists apart from characterization, and which is simply inserted into scenes in order to lighten tension – comedy is characterization, and balancing different senses of humor against each other is an excellent way to provoke your characters into revealing more about themselves, and learning more about each other

In contrast to Asuka, Yu’s sense of humor is sharper, and based more in insult comedy than self-deprecation or play-acting. She cruelly reminds Nana of her dreams of becoming Choco Banana

Oh no, their cafe has been overrun by Tomoya fanatics!

“Let’s help out at Octave!” That is not the episode I was expecting. That said, The Girl in Twilight could very easily pull off a full slice of life episode – its characterization and comedy fundamentals are stellar, it’s only really lacking in terms of its visual design

And now they’re all in pink aprons. That “Day 1” at the bottom of the screen sounds pretty ominous

Asuka trying to look like she’s deep in thought is adorable. And of course, she’s actually just thinking that they should be wearing full costumes

On Day 2, they look like servants in an old-fashioned inn. Are we already stuck in somebody’s personal universe?

On Day 3, they’re in wedding gowns. And prior to that, even Chloe expressed excitement about their cosplaying efforts, which seems wildly out of character for her. So are we watching some other dimension’s friend group in their natural habitat, or is the whole gang just far more enthusiastic about cosplay than I’d expected?

Now they’re just cycling through their dimensional outfits. I’m very impressed they were able to pull together convincing imitations of their Cowboy World clothing on such short notice

“What’s creepy about using our healthy bodies to attract younger customers?!” I guess it’s less of a joke and more of that Asuka actually has like forty percent dirty old man genes

Yu gets a call from her dad, through whom we learn that Yu has actually been skipping cram school this week, in spite of telling Asuka that she actually had lots of free time. This is an extremely Yu move – she really values her time spent with Asuka, but she also feels uncomfortable expressing how much she values their friendship, and has difficulty expressing vulnerability or discomfort either way. She’ll naturally take the burden of her father’s expectations on herself, and not reveal to her friends that she’s actually sacrificing for their sake

We get a slight visual hold on Asuka’s somber response to this reveal. I can’t imagine Asuka feels good about Yu being unwilling to share her troubles with her closest friend, and lying to her to make her assume nothing’s wrong

“I think she’s poisoning me,” says Yu, referring to Sexy Yu. She’s joking here, but it might be more true than she knows – having seen the confidence and happiness of Sexy Yu, she might be realizing for the first time that she doesn’t necessarily have to live up to the expectations everyone has assigned to her, and that she might be happier if she just embraced her own desires

Seriousuka shows up at Octave, and is bribed by Asuka into serving in a maid outfit

Seriousuka has terrible customer service, but impresses the customers anyway with her lightning-fast reflexes. This show knows how to use its cast so well

In the evening, Seriousuka ends up serving a boy that she apparently knows from her own Fragment

Oh my god, incredible. One by one, all of Asuka’s friends arrive and comment on how much prettier and more put-together Asuka looks now that she’s Seriousuka. Brutal

And yet, in spite of them actually hiding Asuka for Yu’s arrival, Yu can still tell that Seriousuka isn’t her Asuka in a moment. What the other friends read as oddly refined mannerisms, Yu can see is an entirely different person. She’s been Asuka’s best friend for too long to fall for a trick like this

Mio correctly identifies Seriousuka’s appeal as a strong case of gap moe

Oh man. This episode has been so charming and idyllic so far that I have to assume the show is about to take a permanently darker turn, as we ramp up to its final act. We’ve even got those nostalgic, tinkling piano keys, telling us “enjoy this moment while it lasts”

The cafe owner seems unfazed by the existence of multiple Asukas. I guess cafe owners see a lot of shit

Asuka’s hair looks extremely strange from behind. It’s very much an anime haircut – you can’t really get your front bangs to jut out like tusks in that way. Believe me, I’ve tried

Oh my god, Asuka’s squeaking noise when she sees her grandmother. Tomoyo Kurosawa is a genius

And Seriousuka picks “Siri Asuka” as her full fake name. Amazing

“You skipped over the chicken and went straight for the miso konnyaku! Such mature taste for your age!” Probably true, but I imagine the more pertinent reason Seriousuka loves this miso is that it reminds her of her own home, which was presumably lost in whatever calamity resulted in her being a world-hopping superhero. A nicely subtle bit of characterization

Asuka’s father is actually troubled by her dedication to taking over the family business. Her complacency here fits neatly into The Girl in Twilight’s overall themes. Nana, Mio, and Chloe were all unhappy with their “role in this world” in some way, and by exploring alternate versions of themselves that matched more closely to what they felt was missing in their original life, they were able to reconcile their feelings, and come to a happier relationship with their original life. However, Asuka has never even considered that something might be missing from her current life, and that worries her father – if she never even tries any future aside from inheritor of the family business, how will she know that’s what she truly wants to do?

“In my Fragment, everyone is struggling, and no one can make plans for their future. But this Fragment is different. Nothing’s holding you back, so you can dream freely.” Having experienced a far harsher world, Seriousuka implores Asuka to take advantage of the unique opportunities she’s been given

Both Asukas share a dream of Kyo, their absent brother

Seriousuka is pulled back to her own Fragment by a blaring alarm, and tells Asuka she must stay behind, and enjoy life in this Fragment with a future. In spite of telling Asuka she should embrace opportunities, she has accepted her own doomed fate as a consequence of her birth into a doomed Fragment. She cannot even imagine freedom for herself in the way Asuka enjoys; visiting other worlds does not broaden her personal perspective, but merely strengthen her conviction to protect others from her “fate”

As expected, Yu takes the anchor role as they chase Seriousuka back into her fragment. Good luck, Yu!

And Done

Well, that was certainly a tumultuous episode! On the whole it was roughly half slice of life, half setup for the show’s final act, and I’d say it did a fine job in carrying out both of those goals. This show’s friendly banter has been excellent from the start, and in particular, it’s wonderful seeing new shades in Asuka and Yu’s friendship as we learn more about each of their lives. Meanwhile, the show’s central themes are finally starting to reflect back on Asuka herself, as she is forced to grapple with the questions of identity that her friends have been struggling with all series long. It’s no surprise for a show as tightly written as this, but it looks like The Girl in Twilight’s threads are pulling together gracefully as we enter its final act!

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