Last updated May 21, 2006.

June 06, 2005: Futakoi Alternative [CONSIDERABLE SPOILERS]

Episode nine of Futakoi Alternative compelled me to re-watch the first eight episodes. This was an easy task since Futakoi Alternative is the best new show this season. I discovered a lot of foreshadowing, themes, and hints that I previously missed. (Most were pretty subtle.)

I also participated in a detailed dissection of the show with the most ardent fan of Futakoi Alternative 'round these parts. A thorough recap of the hilights can be found at The focus of my discussion below concerns only the impetus behind my heightened interest in Futakoi Alterative: Souju Shirogane and Rentarou Futaba.

Rentarou and Souju
Rentarou and Souju

I preface these remarks by admitting that prior to episode nine, I would have answered "Sara > Souju" without hesitation if asked to decide. After episode nine, the reverse is true. I suspect a large reason for my earlier position is because the show itself favors Sara over Souju. Sara gets the limelight and more attention, and she gets most of the best scenes. Sara is also the louder and more assertive of the two. I knew Souju was more sensitive than Sara, but until now I really only considered this in a vague, generalized way. What I hadn't noticed was that Souju and Rentarou are more closely attuned to each other.

Consider the following:

  • One last reminder: SUBSTANTIAL SPOILERS follow.
  • Episode Five:
    • In a flashback, we see Sara angrily confront Rentarou because he had asked the sisters to warn him in advance before they pulled another of their frequent disappearing acts. Souju stands back from the discussion, obviously anxious about Sara's unusual vitriol towards Rentarou's seemingly reasonable request.
    • Sara goes off alone to take Polaroids. We learn these photographs are intended to remind them in the future of the happy times they once had. The implication is that Sara is expecting these happy times to end. Meanwhile, Souju remains fast by Rentarou's side, quietly playing a guitar. Instead of preparing for a future apart, she is using their time together now to just be together. This is especially important because all of Sara's efforts are ultimately in vain since all of her photographs were surely destroyed in the episode nine fire.
    • When Rentarou finally invites the twins to go on a relationship-strengthening trip, he asks Souju alone first. Her reaction suggests this request is what triggers the twins' longest disappearance to date.
    • When the twins return, Souju is the first to re-approach Rentarou. She takes his stack of leaflets from him as a prelude to the trio working together once more for the dog-search case. (This is probably meaningless.)
    • At the end of the episode, Souju is the one who invites Rentarou to come looking for them the next time they disappear.
  • Episode Six:
    • Souju instantly and effortlessly detects the little change in Rentarou's facial expression that betrays him during the game of Old Maid.
    • Moreover, the card game they play involves finding matching pairs. Souju is the one that wins. (Then again, Rentarou is also the one that loses.)
    • When the Ichijou twins are "glomping" Rentarou in the V.I.P. suite at the spa, Souju is the one who "feels a disturbance in the Force" and casts a worried glance in the room's direction while Sara walks on, completely oblivious.
    • When Rentarou finds the twins at the end of the episode, Souju is the one that calls out to him.
  • Episode Seven:
    • Souju is the one who suffers the ecchi poking moment each time. (This is probably a meaningless sight gag.)
    • More significantly, it is Souju's letter that turns Rentarou around and incites him into action. I find this especially significant because it is Souju's letter that forms the catalyst behind the entire show. I believe the letter purpously came from Souju alone instead of both twins together.
  • Episode Eight:
    • Sara is the one who musters the courage for the twins to leave the apartment, on the stroke of midnight, at the end of the day of the twins' birthday.
    • Sara leaves Souju at the depot, taking responsbility for the future alone, so that Souju can return to Rentarou.
  • Eyecatches:
    • Souju is shown alone in the eyecatches for episodes four, eight, and nine.
    • Sara is shown alone only once—in episode nine—and even then her back is turned.

Rentarou and Souju

Given that the extended promo previewed scenes from the first nine episodes, and considering the fact that episode nine marks the emotional and dramatic turning point of the series, I think it is obvious these above elements were intended to foreshadow the events of episode nine (and the very end of episode eight). What remains unknown is where the show will go from here.

I assume the show will consist of 13 episodes, and I believe the squid plot will be resolved with the involvement of Lulu and Lala. This doesn't seem to leave a lot of time to fully address my biggest questions about the show, namely: Where do Souju and Rentarou go from here? What heppens to Sara now?

Souju and Rentarou
Rentarou and Souju double-ride a mamachari

I have every expectation that there will be a happy, heartfelt reunion for these three characters before the end of the series. However, I believe this because I have been conditioned to believe it. Shows with similar conundrums almost always end either (a) happily, or (b) without any resolution at all. Ending the series with Souju and Rentarou together, and Sara apart from them, would come as a huge shock to me solely because the "happy ending" is so ingrained and idiomatic. On the other hand, I trust ufotable to produce excellent, unconventional shows. I would love to see the series end with Rentarou and Souju together, although that would mean an unsatisfying conclusion for Sara fans.

If one extends the above foreshadowing and Souju's scenes with Rentarou in episode nine to also apply beyond that critical episode, it is plausible to infer a Rentarou + Souju ending; the only serious obstacle is Happy Ending Dogma.

Souju and Rentarou
Souju and Rentarou contemplate their life without Sara

I want Rentarou and Souju to end up together not because I harbor any animosity towards Sara, but because (a) I've had my fill of contrived happy endings, (b) I'm even more tired of cop-out zero-resolution endings, and most importantly, (c) Souju and Rentarou have such excellent chemistry together.

This chemistry between Rentarou and Souju wasn't really apparent before episode nine. Aside from the guitar-playing scene in episode five, he's always been shown with both girls at once. Episode nine showed what it was like for them to be together in the aftermath of Sara's departure.

Souju and Rentarou
Souju and Rentarou shop for groceries

As I interpret the episode, the early scenes with the word game and the hijinks at the supermarket/department store revealed that Souju and Rentarou can be happy together. However, their happiness during these scenes was obviously forced. They were trying to remain as upbeat as possible because both knew a break in their rhythm would leave both miserable again to be without Sara. Even then, they were able to be completely unguarded with each other as evidenced in their leisurely trek through the supermarket, absolutely unconcerned (or oblivious) that everyone was openly staring at them.

Rentarou and Souju
Rentarou and Souju spend a night on the town

However, their scenes together after the fire are completely natural. They essentially go on their first date alone together, doing things without Sara for the first time. After all, it was impossible to double-ride a bicycle before when there were three of them. Their happiness and enjoyment of each other's company in these scenes is genuine, and for at least a moment they forget that Sara is not with them.

It doesn't last. They miss Sara terribly. They're still devastated she won't be with them anymore. They feel guilty that they had fun without her. And they feel guilty that they forgot about her—even if they only forgot for a moment. No wonder they're both so miserable at the hotel.

But now Souju and Rentarou know that they can be happy together without Sara—and it is often said time heals all wounds. The path to their lives as a couple of lovers instead of as a trio of friends is before them. They've taken their first step towards it, but what remains to be seen is whether ufotable will allow them to walk that path, or divert them down a more conventional road toward the Happy Reunion Ending. Given that Futakoi Alternative is about making choices, I hope the show itself will choose bravely and take the path less trodden.

June 12, 2005: Futakoi Alternative

Souju and Rentarou
Souju and Rentarou

If you're going to look for people in Futagotamagawa, I recommend just waiting by the river. They'll show up eventually.


Cycling, cycling, yah-hoh, yah-hoh...