justin is upset because elliot is not returning his affections as he imagined, and because he’s not all that keen on fem!elliot compared to the familiar macho elliot. the demon duck tries to prank him but just makes it worse.
Ellen is struggling with the fact that Nanase isn’t yet willing to come out to her and ask her out.
Sarah basically wants to shag Elliot right now but also doesn’t want to do so ‘as a man’.
Nanase gets on Susan’s case about wearing the boys’ uniform. Nanase, honestly, like have you never seen Utena? there’s no point arguing about uniforms. instead, you probably want to brush up on symbolism and practice swordfighting at this point.
experience with transformations will certainly help though!
so the pizza comes and they’re worried because the delivery guy is the student council pres (wait a minute) and he might spread the news about the gender shenanigans. but they have the fact he’s driving underage to blackmail him with so it’s all good!
Susan writes in her journal, basically saying there’s no significant ~male brain~ differences and, she concludes, nothing excusing her father. but Sarah interrupts before she can take that conclusion further.
everyone does karaoke on some kinda karaoke game. Tedd, who often sings in the shower with a normatively-female body, is the only one to score particularly high at first. Ellen goes last, and takes off her jacket, turning up Nanase’s gayometer really high. she sings a song and we get lyrics. I googled them. looks like Dan Shive composed them for the comic, bc nothing shows up. a second figure appears singing alongside her but i’m going to totally drop the ball and admit i’m not sure who it’s supposed to be. sorry. whichever character it is has longer hair than Ellen and may be the Ellen from the other universe she’s experiencing in her sleep.
so it’s time for an exposition dump on the effects of the nose boop/dream world.
Nioi apparently was messing around with herself cosmetically and then accidentally touched the Dewitchery Diamond. This led to the existence of Kaoli. Like she told Ellen, she wanted to give Kaoli an alternate lifetime to make sure her soul isn’t younger than her body, but she didn’t want to do that alone. When she met Ellen, this gave her an opportunity to give both of them a new childhood history.
The memories she experienced were apparently actual memories from an alternate universe. And having these memories will potentially help her communicate with Kaoli later when they end up in the same dimension.
Nanase gives Ellen her coat back and they smile at each other while everyone sings karaoke.
Hold on Hope
so they all have cake and them some events happen wordlessly:
- Justin is sad
- Ellen leads Nanase into another room, to the delight of Grace
- Grace smooches Tedd
- Tedd leaves and Grace follows
- Susan looks at her book with a worried expression and leaves the room
- Sarah and Elliot find themselves alone in the room
Sarah and Elliot briefly discuss whether everyone’s ok then they make out only they first of all clonk heads and then Elliot falls off the sofa. This is entirely believable. Kissing as a complete novice involves a surprisingly large number of ways to get hurt. (Another bad one is when you and your partner’s teeth clack into each other.) Anyway with a bit more coordination, they dissolve into sloppy makeouts.
Susan rereads her last entry. We have a flashback to when she went by ‘Tiffany’ and revealed her dad was cheating on her mum. She cut her hair to look different from the woman her dad was cheating on with. Her mum told her that her dad didn’t hate them, but behaved that way because he’s a man.
Susan decides she needs to talk to someone. She ends up finding Justin, and pushes aside her memories so she can be supportive to him.
Justin lets on that he doesn’t want to be as out as gay as he is. As implied earlier, he told Melissa in confidence (as a reason to break up), and she let everyone know. Consequently, his peers turned against him; all his friends abandoned him. This is miserably entirely believable as a thing that would happen - poor Justin :(
As implied in the wordless flashback sequence, Elliot saved him, helped him patch up, and wasn’t a homophobic bellend. (Though he was apparently critical of Justin for throwing the first punch. Get out of here with your liberalism, Elliot.) Elliot introduced Justin to the Anime-Style Martial Arts class, and to Nanase, but mostly Justin just wanted to be with Elliot.
Susan does a good job of being there for Justin. She tells him that being single isn’t the same as being alone, that his friends all care and love for him. <3
He hugs her… and then kisses her. They end up making out on the sofa. (How many sofas does Tedd have?) It’s interrupted when the lightbulb blows. Justin apologises, and they end up laughing.
Susan writes in her journal what she’s learned. It seems she’s taken the right lessons (given the rather comics-land-only place she started).
Tedd explains why they are more comfortable cooking in a normatively-female body. They cook when their dad isn’t around, and that’s also when they use that body, so cooking and the body have become closely associated. (I’m not sure if ‘they’ is the best choice of pronoun to use for Tedd. Tedd has yet to express a pronoun preference, yet whenever given the option without harmful social consequences, Tedd always chooses the normatively-female body - to be honest it’s hard not to read Tedd as anything but specifically a girl? but i think i will stick with ‘they’ until Tedd makes an explicit preference clear.)
Grace smooches Tedd. Tedd freaks out and runs upstairs. They tell Grace they’re uncomfortable kissing her when she’s ‘a guy’, and assume it would not be the case for Grace because she’s bi.
So this seemed to be leading into a better discussion of attraction than we’ve had so far but actually apparently being attracted to people based on who they are rather than what their body is like is an Uryuom thing, i.e. specifically not human. :/
Grace drops some hardcore psychoanalysis, and spells out Tedd’s wrestling with their transmisogynist and homophobic environment, and fear of being with ‘men’ on the basis it confirms every insult thrown at them. Oh gosh um. Fuck i want to give these kids a hug :(
Grace says the reason she wanted this ‘transgender’ birthday party was for Tedd. Tedd is… really grateful. And they kiss Grace while she’s still in a normatively-male body. <3 <3
Finally, Nanase and Ellen. Ellen says there’s something about the dreams she didn’t mention. She tells Nanase about her dream-self’s crush on Archie. Apparently, though he was ace, Archie ended up dating so he could continue to be affectionate with people, and dream!Ellen ended up in a short-lived relationship where they had sex.
Ellen says she felt increasingly separate from dream!Ellen, and that she felt conflicted about being with a guy. And she declares that, despite her early performance of being into guys as a way of distancing herself from Elliot, she finds it extremely uncomfortable still and would rather be a lesbian. (that’s. i have complicated feelings of mixed ‘yay’ and ‘hmm’ here. but let’s keep going for now.)
And then she so blatantly gives Nanase an invitation to come out that it seems impossible that Nanase doesn’t realise she already knows, but Nanase does not take this opportunity to come out. So Ellen gets upset and leaves the room. Oh dear.
Tedd says they want to apologise to Sarah for all the times they joked about her being a lesbian. Tedd’s growing up <3
After the various makeouts/feelings jams, everyone’s gathering up together. Nanase gets herself un-transformed before going out to talk to Ellen.
And we finally get the coming-out moment/smooch we’ve been waiting for :3
I think it’s well-done and true to the characters and i happy-stimmed (can i call it that? i don’t even know if i’m autistic but i flap my hands excitedly when i feel happy/delighted/etc. about something, usually media, and that seems to be a common form of stimming. and i twitch my leg like. a lot.)
Honestly I think the comic, though it’s taken a long time, has really come into its own with this arc? The characters have gained a lot of depth; the feeling jams were solidly handled; everyone is getting together and it’s all really sweet and gay.
Though with all these character-arcs moved so far forward, I don’t know where it’s going to go next. All the same: not perfect, but fundamentally a very solid arc. If this trend continues, I could end up really loving this comic.