I wasn’t sure what to expect from Star Head versus Recruit in musical talent, so I wasn’t the least bit disappointed with the performance that we got. Star Head is like Phoebe from Friends: their songs aren’t great, but they’re a hit with the people around them – and isn’t that what really matters?
The short battle did reveal a few things that made me think, however.
One is Nino’s past – again. Our interest was already piqued since the episode with the dress, not to mention her pained expression when Recruit directly asked about her past during their date, and while nothing else has been explicitly said or revealed about Nino’s past, her reaction to Recruit’s music – well played, classical music – made me wonder if it was just another small glimpse of who Nino was before she moved Under the Bridge. In the moment that Nino had her eyes closed and was listening to Recruit’s music, it seems she understood the way to really focus on the music, which may hint to (again) a more aristocratic background. Or maybe I’m reading into it too much.
Two is time. Not nearly as important as Nino’s past, Recruit casually comments that Star’s song “The Howling of a Loser” becomes popular on the riverbank half a year later. Does that mean that Recruit remains Under the Bridge for that long (maybe even longer)? Or does he move out from Under the Bridge but remain in contact with those who live there? Both are plausible, though the former is more likely since I don’t see Nino wanting to leave that place anytime soon. And now that Recruit has a job he may be losing interest in leaving as well.
I think Recruit’s point-of-view on work – that “real work” requires more effort and is for the most part arduous and not fun – was interesting to say the least. Certainly many people live like that; it’s the norm in some societies. Doing something that you love and have a passion for as your job is rare indeed. In some ways, it seems silly that children are asked to dream about what they want to be when they grow up because the odds of them actually becoming those things aren’t good. Again, not impossible, but rare. More often than not, the boy who wanted to be a race car driver will grow up to become a pencil pusher in middle management. And the little girl who dreamt of growing up to be a Princess one day… can’t seem to find herself a Prince. (Come on guys: It’s not like I want to be Queen.) I hope Recruit keeps these things in mind when he shapes and molds the young minds Under the Bridge.
It was really sweet to see Nino affirm Recruit’s teaching ability (I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a talent; it just so happens that Nino’s methodology of swimming is un-replicable). Unfortunately, it took a bit of a push from a certain Kappa and two Iron Masked children to actually get Recruit to commit to it though. Recruit really does have a lot to offer those Under the Bridge; just not in the way that he’s thinking. Common sense is good and all, but he’s obviously forgetting one very important thing: The villagers living Under the Bridge live under a different set of common sense. And I know he wants to start with the kids but considering how Stella owns both the Iron Brothers and Recruit, I doubt he’ll be able to exercise too much authority (if any at all) in that class.
Finally, it seems that with Recruit finding a job Under the Bridge, he’s taken another step into fully integrating into the society (and community) Under the Bridge. And while Recruit agreeing to become the teacher Under the Bridge (and seeing Nino in a bathing suit) is the highlight of this episode, I wouldn’t say that’s the key moment where he becomes more like those around him: It’s when that kid walks by on the top of the bridge. See, Kou lived above the bridge before. His troubles were above the bridge, his work and home were above the bridge, and his family was above the bridge. After falling off the bridge and into the water, and being saved by Nino, his whole world has moved to Under the Bridge. There’s a clear definition of where Recruit is now found: Under the Bridge. And despite his setting himself apart from those Under the Bridge (we all know he still has those tendencies and only stubbornness can tell how much longer he’ll cling to those tendencies) everyone above the bridge classifies him as one who lives Under the Bridge.