(Note: Today’s post will contain mature themes of sexual connotations while exploring the ideals/theme of growing up. It will also contain slight spoilers if you have not started the show or read through the manga. You have been forewarned!)
Ah, the flavors of youth.
We all grow up, we all go through puberty, we all know what it’s like to think about sex all the time. It’s a never ending cycle of hormone induced emotional states that make us wild with rampant thoughts and fantasies. I would like to prefiset that yes…women think about sex as much as men.
That’s why I’m ungodly happy that O’ Maidens in Your Savage Season has made an appearance this summer season. O’ Maidens tackles the idea of high school girls wanting to know more about what sex means. Not really just the physical aspect of sex but everything that revolves around it. From the meaning of love, figuring out your feelings towards someone in particular, all the way to taboo topics such as adults/minors being together and even pedophilia. Yes, you read that right…child pedophilia. But don’t let that small tidbit denture you away from this show/manga. It is so much more than what is on the surface. O’ Maidens encapsulates the trials and tribulations of youth perfectly down to its very essence. I haven’t related to an anime series like this in a very long time..and I’m talking about the whole ideology behind the show and not just bits and pieces.
In order to understand these girls and there so called “personal dilemmas” on a deeper level we must take a look at each on individually. We will start with Kazusa since a lot of the story revolves around her.
Kazusa is a shy girl whose main friend has been her next store neighbor, Izumi, since they were little. Kazusa, like all the other girls involved in the literature club, is curious about sex, but she struggles with her outward appearance and confidence. You can spot this pretty early on in the first few episodes of the series. Like Kazusa, Izumi is also on the shyer side of the spectrum but has been blossoming with the ladies at school. Kazusa realizes this after she overhears another classmate mentioning how hot Izumi is and at the possibility of taking his “virginity.” Things start to roll into motion when Kazusa wonders if Izumi thinks about sex as well. One evening Kazusa heads over to Izumi’s house to drop off some food and she walks in on him in his room watching porn and masturbating. The irony of it all is that the porn Izumi is watching is a train porno. And this is funny because Izumi is obsessed with trains
So of course awkward encounters for Kazusa and Izumi happen in the next few episodes. Kazusa also sneaks out a porno DVD from Izumi’s room one night while he is away. Lemme tell you…this scene was so funny I thought I was going to die laughing. Kazusa struggles with her feelings for Izumi after Izumi confesses to Kazusa one night that he “doesn’t think about sex with anyone or even her for that matter.” *Insert Kuzusa running away from Izumi’s room but Izumi trys to stop her and they have an odd tumble down the stairs and Izumi lands on top of Kazusa in typical anime fashion* (See gif above 😉 ). Eventually, after talking with Niina and Momoko, Niina makes Kazusa realize that deep down she has romantic feelings for Izumi. Thus, beginning the whirlwind struggle of Kazusa trying to sort out those feelings and comparing herself to Niina (these emotions ensue when Kazusa sees Niina and Izumi leaving on the train together one day after school).
Kazusa’s internal emotional struggle is something all women face on a day to day basis. Trying to figure out if you are good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough to face the person you have feelings for is one of the most daunting tasks girls have to go through during puberty. You feel like everything is the end of the world (even though well all know it’s not) if things don’t go your way.
Kazusa has every right to feel this way, especially when she is friends with Niina. A beautiful girl who is considered mysterious and fragile by everyone in school. Jealousy is a natural emotion that everyone deals with at one point or another. This type of conflict works well for the series because this is an exact problem any real life girl would have to deal with in the real world. Jealousy is a driving force in most male and female relationships, just like fear or anger would be.
As we all are well aware of…love triangles are popular in romance anime. The formula is “main character falls in love with an outsider but the childhood friend of the main character is in love with them and either confesses or doesn’t.” We all know how it goes. The series is only at episode 6 right now, but we all know that this love triangle is going to become more prominent as the episodes progress. I’m interested in seeing how Kazusa comes to terms with her jealousy and if she will overcome it. I want Kuzusa to grow into her own person and be confident in herself. Comparing yourself to others never works out in the long run and you have to figure that out on your own. Advice from friends might be able to steer you in the right direction, but it’s how you handle/direct your emotions that allow you to overcome your inner turmoil.
Honestly, Niina’s childhood background is a little dark. Niina is a little quirky, regal, pretty to look at, but also confused like the rest of the girls in this series. See…Niina has a little secret. When Niina was 10 or 11 (I can’t remember at this point) she was involved in a group project with a very famous director. Niina was given the lead role and favored by the director during their time together. We come to find out this director favored Niina because he liked little girls. Like…liked liked them. Niina, being the impressionable young girl that she is, develops feelings for this director in a warped and twisted way.
One day…Niina asks the director if he wants to have sex with her but the director declines her advance because he believes that her innocence and allure would be “ruined” if he did anything of the sort. Niina then asks if he would be with her when she grew up but the director again declines because older girls/women don’t appeal to him in the same notion that young girls do….That he can only love her “girlish nature.” Nothing ever bad happens to Niina physically, but you can tell she is emotionally scarred by being in love with this director. Having your mind bent to someone else’s will is a mental prison. You continuously go over what you did wrong or what you could have done differently in order to please them. I think that is where Niina is at, at this point in the series.
We see a brief moment of this weakness when Niina uses Izumi as a “stand in boyfriend” when she runs into the director one day at the train station. I feel like Niina is restless with herself and how she feels about the director, hence why she is on a conquest to have sex before she dies. It’s almost like she is forcing herself to try to forget her feelings for the director and put it out of her mind. Niina is wearing a mask that she can’t full take off. The way they built up Niina’s character and how they handle the topic of pedophilia in the series was delicately done. You are able to fully grasp why Niina is the way she is without feeling too disgusted about the man she developed feelings for. The series also pokes fun at the topic of pedophilia and how it is fucking terrible with Izumi’s reaction to Niina’s confessional. Another golden moment for this series.
And then there is Hongo-chan.
Hongo is actually an aspiring young writer…but not just any type of writer…Hongo wants to write erotica. A girl who knows nothing about sex wants to write erotica. Another point for Mari Okada for throwing in some more irony into this series! I feel like this whole series is just a double entendre. Hongo’s background is also a little complicated. She has been getting sexual advice/having cyber sex with someone online. We don’t know who it is right away until a couple of episodes in. Milo-sensei (the person chatting with Hongo) finally decides to meet up with Hongo in real life. When Hongo meets up with Milo-sensei at the front of the train station we find out that Milo-sensei is actually Hongo-chan’s real sensei at school. Whoops! XD
Surprisingly enough, Hongo handles the situation quite coolly but Milo-sensei tries to avoid her at all cost. Milo-sensei knows this type of relationship is a “no-no” and tells Hongo this upfront. Milo-sensei is trying to do the right thing, but Hongo-chan can’t quite let their developed online relationship go. Hongo-san even blackmails Milo-sensei into becoming the literature club’s adviser since the club would be disbanded if they didn’t find someone to preside over the club. Let the “teacher/student” anime trope begin!
Yes, I know this type of shit does not fly in real life. DO NOT try to have sexual relations with your teacher…but I can’t help but have a teeny-tiny bit of hope for Hongo and Milo-sensei. This is actually my favorite pair in the series. Probably due to the back and fourth tension between Hongo and Milo-sensei. You know Milo-sensei is trying to be good, but Hongo is pushing her limits/boundaries with him. I’m always intrigued by the concept and psychology of “wanting what you can’t have.” Because…let’s face it. We all are tempted by the stuff we don’t have/want to have everyday. I think some people are more intrigued by the chase rather than the actual prize. Some people get off on the whole “cat and mouse” situation. So I am wondering if that is how Milo-sensei will respond considering he’s told Hongo he has no interest in high school girls and he finds them “disgusting.”
I want Hongo and Milo-sensei to be together but I also don’t want them to be. I excited to see what direction they push these two into. Will Milo-sensei give in to Hongo-chan and her sexual desire’s to know more? Or will Milo-sensei try to refuse Hongo all together? Ahhhh…I’m gonna need the rest of the series to come out like NOW.
Then we have what seems to be the more “normal” girls of the group Sonezaki and Momoko. Sonezaki is definitely the most normal out of the bunch, but she does face social pressures from her class. She had a strict upbringing, but shows interest in the opposite sex just like any other person would. Sonezaki is teased/bullied in her class, with her classmates claiming she is a “prude” and “ugly.” Just because a woman wears glasses that doesn’t make her ugly! I hate this stereotype in anime.
Sonezaki does change her appearance a few episodes in by getting her haircut and wearing contacts so she looks prettier. Of course everyone in the class after Sonezaki changes her appearance starts to warm up to Sonezaki and wants to be her friend. But one boy liked the old Sonezaki the way she was. Shun was kind to Sonezaki before she decided to change her look and then asks Sonezaki to become his girlfriend. Sonezaki says yes at the end of episode 5, but in episode 6 Sonezaki wants to keep their relationship a secret until they graduate. Shun is clearly hurt by this gesture, but Sonezaki continues forward in hopes she can create a safe environment for them to be together in secret.
DO NOT keep your relationships a secret my friends. This will only eat away at you and your partner from the inside. Sonezaki just started dating Shun and she already wants to keep him a secret. Like GURL…what is you doing?! That’s not how you want to kick off a romantic relationship. I understand wanting to keep something close to you or private, but Shun expressed he wants people to know Sonezaki is his girlfriend. I hope Sonezaki can realize Shun’s feelings before it’s too late and she implodes their relationship from the inside.
We haven’t seen much of Momoko’s story yet. She seems to be second when it comes to Kazusa. That usually happens with characters who are best friends with the main protagonist of a series. We know Momoko goes to a cram school and has made friends with a boy named Sugimoto. He clearly likes Momoko but it seems like Momoko hasn’t quite reciprocated the same feelings back. I did a little digging last night and I found out that Momoko develops a one-sided crush on Niina. I was waiting to see if they would have a female-on-female relationship in this series! As I mentioned above we are only on episode 6 of the series so I know we will see this crush bud over the next 6 or 7 episodes (I’m gonna assume this series will be 12 or 13 episodes). I thought Momoko might be into girls after a brief moment with Sugimoto, but wasn’t quite sure if the series would lean this way.
I want this series to continue to dive deeper into the world of sexual confusion at a young age. These topics are usually brushed over in other series or we just get straight fan-service with ecchi anime. Sex is a topic that NEEDS to be talked about more. Sex is a stepping stone for many of us into the world of adulthood. It is clumsy, funny, painful, and emotional all at once. There is much more that comes along with sex than just a pair of naked bodies pressed together for pleasure. Sex takes time, patience, understanding, emotional support, and learning.
I love this series because it is a relatable and handles all the topics of sex/interpersonal relationships with such care that no detail is missed. From the random misunderstandings that Kazusa and Izumi have about one another, to Hongo trying to find herself as a writer and a young woman. Even the background story of Niina having feelings for a man who is a pedophile is done with such grace and precision that you hope Niina will be able to realize that type of love is one you don’t want to keep seeking out. Love and sexual desire is a fickle thing my friends. I would like to leave you guys with a with semblance about love: “Romantic love or even infatuation is not the issue. The problem for many is the confusion of love and obsession.”
(Disclaimer: All imagery, photos, and gifs come from searching for them on the internet. I have no claim or right to them. Today’s header image comes from https://www.zerochan.net/2507473#full)