Character: Eri Ninamori
Who is Eri Ninamori?
Eri is a friend of Naota, as much as any character is a demonstrated friend. For the hodgepodge of his maturation, Naota demonstrates as little need for anyone as possible. She has relatively little to no role in the show until episode 3 “Marquis de Carabas,” which features her prominently. Yet, immediately following this episode, Eri slinks once more into the background.
I've always been fascinated by the composition of short series (6'ish episodes.) For having so few episodes, the decision was made to spend 1/6 of the entire product focusing on a character, out of the blue, then “abandoning” her. Of course, they did nothing of the kind. In application, we had a side story that proved the world existed. After episode 3, it wasn't just a weird kid surrounded by cartoonish characters, it was a world full of living, vibrant characters with needs and wants we don't just have enough time to see.
- She is the class president
- Her father is mayor of the town
- Her father is involved in a sex scandal, which was reported on by Naota's father.
- She spends the night at Naota's house after Haruko accidentally hits her.
- She participates in the school play to in the hopes it'll bring her parents back together
- She rigs it so Naota performs in the play with her, as a character subservient to her.
The fascinating thing about Eri is that we know very personal, important things about her, yet nothing else. I know almost nothing superficial about her, yet I feel for the complexity of her grief. That said, its probably her strong aloofness and intelligence that attracts her to Naota. Where the lines of maturation and disillusionment met, she develops some feelings for Naota. Though, it's worth noting that they could be a desperate need for kinship/understanding, rather than romantic in nature.
Naota: You mean you cheated?
Ninamori: You're not mad, are you?
Naota: You wanted to play the lead bad enough to do something like that?
Ninamori: Who'd understand more than you? You're Puss in Boots, the one who tricks the prince! He hides who he really is and pretends to be someone else forever. So in time he becomes that person, so his lie becomes the truth, see?!? He transcends the mask! Well, don't you get it? That's how he finds happiness. That's pretty good, right?
In one sudden scene, the entirety of her character explodes. Eri's calm, cool demeanor is gone, and with a need for acceptance, a desire for understanding, she moves in on Naota. That said, her advances are spurned, and the idyllic fantasy she has pushed on Naota fails. After this episode, Ninamori goes back to being a cold, composed side character. Visually, there is almost no difference in her behavior before and after Marquis de Carabas, yet the knowledge gained her changes the perception of that behavior forever.
Eri Ninamori is brilliant.