Ok, I finally declare as the worst sister, friend, daughter, etc etc
- 19 hours ago
- 19 hours ago
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I was watching Gotta Catch You Later (the raw) with my friend who studies Japanese. Before Ash, Misty, and Brock go their separate ways, Misty gives Ash her handkerchief while Brock gives Ash a bento box with his cutlery. My friend noticed two interesting things about this scene and explained what she found peculiar.
She first pointed how unusual it is for Misty to be gifting a handkerchief to Ash. In Japanese culture, handkerchiefs are extremely culturally important to daily life. People use them for day to day use, drying their hands after washing, wiping their faces, etc. It’s definitely not something one commonly gives away. Maybe to borrow, but the act of giving a handkerchief is very unusual because of these cultural necessities. Handkerchiefs are usually not given to someone else unless it’s done to temporarily help the person out like allowing them to wipe tears or sweat or helping them nurse an injury. And usually in those circumstances it’s expected that the person return the handkerchief. This explains why Serena in XY007 makes it a point to return the handkerchief Ash uses to patch her leg up because that’s simply what was culturally expected of her. Serena’s attraction to Ash was indicated by the fact that she steadfastly followed through after all these years, not by the fact that she wanted to return it. In contrast, Misty had given Ash her handkerchief unconditionally and sentimentally which takes on some interesting implications to say the least.
Not only is Misty giving Ash something extremely important to her, my friend also found it unusual that she uses it to wrap Brock’s bento box. Wrapping a bento box is seen as an act of tender love and care in Japanese culture. It’s simply not something a good friend does for another good friend. Rather, it’s something a mother or a wife would do respectively for their child or significant other. What’s interesting is that Brock is seen holding the bento box while Misty is wrapping it in her handkerchief. Brock doesn’t end up offering the wrapped bento box to Ash even though it’s already cradled in his hands. Misty ends up taking the box from Brock’s hands and gives it to Ash herself, the act now bearing the significance of what she had just done.
I feel like among all the good bye episodes among Pokemon’s cast members, Misty’s handkerchief and what was done with it definitely sets it apart from other episodes (among other things). It’s evident that there is a significant amount of emotional baggage Misty puts in her goodbye gift to Ash. I noticed people keep asking why Ash and Misty’s goodbye seems more emotional from the other cast members’ goodbyes. The rationalizations stem from logistical reasons (This is the first goodbye or this is the end to the Original Series) to ones of normative preference (Misty is considered to be more important or she’s the first girl to leave). But why not just consider the reasons in terms of what the narrative was demanding at the time?
I’m not arguing that Misty’s goodbye should be considered more important than the other characters’ goodbyes. I am definitely not arguing that Misty is a more important character in terms of authorial preference or how Ash personally weighs her significance. But I’m coming to an understanding that Misty’s goodbye episode should be interpreted in a different light. When you consider the unique background behind Ash and Misty’s relationship, when compared to the other characters, I’d argue this episode’s emotional impact accurately portrayed what needed to be reflected.
I’m not claiming to be an expert of Japanese culture. I’m just reflecting the thoughts of my friend while also extending it with the conclusions I subsequently came to. Feel free to correct any misconceptions and erroneous assumptions we may have put forward.