These are the precise moments where Haruka and Michiru realize they’ve failed.
No, wait. I correct myself.
Because I don’t think Haruka knows yet. When I look at Haruka’s face – and I’m counting everything here, from her expression to the camera angle – what I see is shock and disbelief. It’s completely taken Haruka by surprise that this hasn’t worked. She was so sure. SHE WAS SO FUCKING SURE.
I want to detour to talk about that part. I said last post that they’d given absolutely everything they had, and it was true. Haruka sacrificed not only her friends, but her integrity, her devotion, the trust others have in her. Whatever small belief Haruka had in being a hero. Those things are gone now. Remember where we started Stars with Haruka?
Like Michiru points out, Haruka is optimistic. Haruka turns it into something sweet and about Michiru (LOVE IS EVERYTHING, after all), but it’s true. Haruka has a new outlook, a new lease on her entire life. She has a chance to start over.
We’ve seen that shift in attitude throughout Stars as well. I’ve talked I don’t know how much about how Haruka’s entire tone has changed. She doesn’t tell the Inners that they’re idealistic and too naive anymore. She doesn’t insist that their way can’t work, or that they’re too weak to win. Haruka may not follow their methods, but she accepts that they ARE methods.
Haruka at her heart, like Usagi, is a believer.
And Haruka believed in THIS. She truly thought that if she just did these terrible things, if she (with Michiru, because I don’t for one moment think Haruka could bear for Michiru to not believe in her) sacrificed herself, if she killed Hotaru, if she was cruel and unfeeling toward Usagi, then they’d get their chance and take out Galaxia.
She was so, so close.
Haruka’s face registers utter shock that this failed. She CANNOT believe that even here, even in the face of her own damnation, she can’t get a hint of a happy ending. A HERO’S ending. I mean, it kind of worked before, right?
The camerawork on Haruka’s face helps enforce these ideas. We have a view mostly in profile, letting Haruka’s face appear more open. The sky is visible behind her. She’s looking up, a universal gesture of hope. If you change the image just a little bit – have her smiling, make the sky blue – there’d be no question that we were seeing someone looking ahead to a bright tomorrow. That’s the Haruka we had, if we set aside all the terrible things that accompany it. That’s the Haruka we’re losing.
Not one single part of this is true for Michiru. The camera is centered squarely and unflinchingly on Michiru. It’s above her, oppressive, pressing down on her. She takes the up the entire screen, there isn’t a hint of anything else. Where Haruka’s shot is open, reflecting how her shock is still keeping her open to possibility, Michiru’s is tight and claustrophobic. That’s the emotion she’s bringing to the moment.
MICHIRU KNOWS THEY ARE FUCKED.
She went into this with her eyes wide open. When Haruka proposed the idea of accepting Galaxia’s offer, I talked a lot about that pause before Michiru agreed. Her mind is WHIRRING, desperate to find some way to save them. She can’t. Surviving for just a little bit longer is the best chance they have, so she agrees.
But Michiru isn’t really a believer. While Haruka is waxing about optimism in their first Stars episode, this is Michiru’s response.
And she says it utterly adorable and looking more goofy than we pretty much EVER see her, and that itself says so much about how far Michiru has grown too. But still, at her heart, Michiru has never had the conviction that drives the others. Michiru believes in exactly one thing, and that’s Haruka.
And Haruka is about to die. Bad enough in and of itself, but she’s about to die knowing that nothing she did mattered.She’ll die having sacrificed everything she valued for absolutely nothing.
And there’s not one fucking thing Michiru can do about it.
Michiru’s expression reeks of her failure. It’s “OH SHIT” in pristine form. The camera I already talked about, how it’s centered so squarely on Michiru that it’s all you can feel. But there’s a kind of brilliant small gesture that I just have to call attention to, and that’s Michiru’s hair.
Michiru does not DO wisps of hair in her face. At all times, Michiru’s hair is an elegant wave. But here, in this close up, you see strings of bangs. This is the Michiru version of DISHEVELED, and I love it so, so much. Michiru is coming undone before our eyes, and it’s just perfect. It gives her just that extra visual touch to let us know how panicked she is.
MICHIRU KAIOH IS DISHEVELED AND PANICKING
I feel for Haruka’s disbelief, and the fact that she DID believe means that when she accepts it was for nothing, it’s going to hurt. Badly.
But Michiru just completely fucking owns this moment for me. Unlike Haruka, she didn’t have far to fall, which means we get to wallow in her realization, and already I love every single second.
With more hints about a potential KRY album (yaaaaay~), how well do you think it'll do in Korea? Promise You did pretty well in Japan, but there's probably not a big correlation about how well KRY ballads will do in Korea.
I’m not sure tbh. People always argue that Korea loves ballads, but a lot of people also argue that D&E, who released a ballad-type song as their title track, would have done well had it received any attention/promotion at all from SM. And considering it took SM nine years to think, “KRY should finally release an album,” and it seems like their attempt to make up lost revenue from SJ and TVXQ releasing no group albums/going on no huge tours for the next 2-3 years because of enlistment… I don’t know how much promotion they’ll give them. People argue the song speaks for itself, but after the way SJ’s last releases have gone, and same with D&E’s first Korean album, I don’t think a song speaks for itself among the korean public, and you need the public to love a song to have a digital hit (and even though a lot of the songs high on korea’s digital charts are pretty awful, those groups have a brand promoted in korea, so they get a lot of hits just by being bandwagoned, and unfortunately, sj’s ‘brand’ in korea is negative bc of how sm chooses to promote them when sm remembers they exist at all, bc of yyj, etc etc, so they get the opposite reaction and that’s why even knetz have to say, in response to songs like ‘Devil’ that they deem freaking amazing (which it is), “please don’t judge before listening” because apparently this is a new concept, ugh).
I think KRY is going to slay quality wise, anything they sing is going to be damn amazing. But I’m worried because of how SM is choosing to do any releases recently, because of how SM gave no attention to the D&E subunit and if that’s how they’re treating SJ’s subunits, you already know it’s going to have even less attention than what SM did for SJ for this Devil album… But I know SJ fans and anyone who has ever listened to KRY in Japan will probably eat it up, so it’s pretty obvious it’ll do well physically (and they probably will get more attention from their upcoming Asia tour and from that upcoming Seoul concert - I don’t think D&E did any concerts in Korea so they probably also have that in their favor). What also worries me is how close they release KRY to the upcoming EXO subunit because if it’s BCD, I have no doubt SM is going to have it overshadow any SJ subunit release.
And if SM releases the album like they did Kyu’s album, so late in the year that even though it slayed digitally and did pretty well physically, it’ll win no awards because it just won’t qualify, then… :/ :/ :/
Haha, sorry for not really answering your question. I think KRY is guaranteed physical hit, even people who bandwagon hate SJ tend to recognize KRY as damn good vocalists even if they downplay how good they are and ignore the fact that KRY are probably currently the best trio of vocalists in Korea but okay. But you can’t really predict how it’ll do digitally, and you have to consider possible promotion (or more likely, the lack thereof) and the fact that KRY are probably going to be branded ‘Super Junior KRY’ like D&E were, and the bias against Super Junior in Korea is a damn shame and may hinder them which really truly sucks.
The only thing that’s really certain is that the album is probably going to be the most amazing thing released in kpop 2015, whether anyone outside of the fandom ever hears it or not.