Bundled together with the BD release of the anime, this special prequel introduces us to a Misaki Mei in a time before Class 3-3. Unlike the withdrawn outcast we see in the main series, this Mei is almost colorful in comparison, smiling and speaking with little reserve. A good amount of her joy stems from a friendship with her twin sister, Fujioka Misaki. As viewers of the show know, an ill fortune awaits the other Misaki sister.
Twins, or Doppelgänger?
What strikes me the most about this particular special is the unavoidable comparison between the two young ladies–despite their almost identical appearances and sweet friendship with one another, there is a clear line that divides them. As Fujioka Misaki playfully hints, there is a doppelgänger likeness in their existence. Plainly speaking, a doppelgänger is “…a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart.” Taking that into consideration, which Misaki is the living, and which is the ghost?
I actually view each sister as a little bit of both, as what many consider two halves to a whole (I don’t actually hold this opinion for real life twins). They both dabble in the otherworld; where Mei has the ability to see the deceased and impending death on the living, Fujioka courts it with her odd attraction to broken and injured objects and later battle with leukemia. The unluckiness that seems to hang over them speaks of old world superstitions regarding the birth of twins. And yet despite the misfortune of their separation and strained familial relations, the two Misaki girls are enamored with one another, some might even consider it incestuous homoeroticism, or good ol’ sisterly yuri (I didn’t really appreciate the fan service pushing this view). When together, they burn brighter with life than when apart.
Foreshadowing, Foreshadowing Everywhere!
Forgive the comparison, but this special reminded me a bit of the progression of atmosphere in anime flop, Blood-C. The episode opens up innocently with pastel maid outfits, clothes shopping, and baskets of giggles. Yet interspersed here and there are seemingly thoughtless comments that upon closer inspection point towards a dark end. As the two girls try on clothes in the fitting room, Fujioka playfully comments, “It’s like ‘Which one of us is the real one?’, right?” She immediately follows up with an inquiry on Mei’s glass eye, and the light mood shifts to one of uncertainty. The passive viewer might overlook that comment and feel quick relief with Mei’s assurance of seeing nothing on Fujioka, but by reflecting on the natures of their relationship and Class 3-3’s curse, it’s difficult to not see the scene as a warning.
And then there’s the focus on Mei’s eye and the topic of heterochromia, or as Mei quickly rephrases it, “odd eye”. The difference lies in the coloration. Not only are her eyes different shades, but, on the supernatural plane, we are even allowed to experience Mei’s ability to differentiate between the colors of life and death. It’s important to remember that this glass eye was not of her own choosing, as it was her “mother” who insisted upon the opposing green. I’m fascinated with the strangeness of Mei’s eye and its defiance of science. She shouldn’t be able to see anything with or through it, much less the aura of death! Where one sister’s affliction trades an eye for a mystical gift, the other’s affliction takes the larger bargain of her life.
The Complete Reflection
I couldn’t help but feel thrilled as the end of this episode hastened towards the familiar start of the series. Fujioka’s death marks the beginning of Class 3-3’s curse, as well as a resolution of the Misaki twin dilemma. Where once two of the same vied for space, now only one is left to claim the name and reflection. It’s an ugly result to which the superstitious can only nod and agree was bound to happen.