Wonder Egg Priority is a show that knows its flower language. The series has used specific flowers to introduce it’s second and third episodes in previews as a framing device for the events of that episode.
For the second episode, it was sunflowers painted behind Neiru and Ai during their walk together. In its third episode, Wonder Egg Priority uses an orange lily in the preview introduction of Rika Kawai.
Orange lilies have several meanings and these often conflict with each other, varying greatly depending on context, presentation, arrangement, and specific type of orange lily. For example, tiger lilies (which are only orange and have black spots on them) represent wealth. Orange lilies can also mean confidence or pride.
In Japanese flower language (and also in common western flower language), an orange lily represents revenge or a deep-seated hatred. It’s a specific and purposeful flower to bring out for Rika’s introduction, especially when it’s followed up with a field of white lilies for purity, pure love, innocence, and chastity, as well as the short-cut for girls’ love. They look orange in the sunset, but are visibly white.
White lilies here hint very early in the episode that Rika’s hatred goes hand-in-hand with a purer type of innocence or a more genuine feeling than the nonchalant freeloader attitude she espouses.
Rika is overtly self-interested, pushy, and disrupts the already precarious budding friendship between Ai and Neiru. She calls people wallets and takes advantage of Ai seconds after meeting her. She immediately cuts to Ai’s self-esteem issues by pointing out her eyes, and always seems to not-so-coincidentally say the “wrong thing,” or the exact right thing to bring out Ai’s lack of self-worth.
Their meeting is framed by hydrangeas (another flower commonly featured in anime) which can mean thank you for understanding but also a heartless nature or overwhelming pride. Rika’s outward attitude isn’t entirely a façade, but it’s also a necessary shield between her and the rest of the world that she immediately places between her and others, even as she inserts herself into their lives like she does with Ai. Her self-harm is hardly shocking, and it’s presented in such a mundane way — this is definitely the last time, she tells herself in the bath — that speaks to a well-ingrained habit rather than a one-off event.
The person that Rika hates the most is herself, and most of her hatred towards Chiemi comes from that self-loathing although there’s also a purity to that hatred as well. All Chiemi did was give Rika support and in the face of that type of love, Rika rebuffed it, especially when it became obvious how much Chiemi was sacrificing.
Rika still speaks of Chiemi in a derogatory way — calling her fatty, making fun of her sweaty palms — but also in the way that Chiemi was at her fanmeets, not how Chiemi was when she died, emaciated. It doesn’t excuse her remarks, and I wonder if the show is going to continue to use the character of Rika to show that impulse to bully others, but it makes sense given who Rika is.
Last week with Minami, Ai leaned into an idea of what a hero should be — telling Minami that she’ll save her, swinging around on a golden lasso made of Minami’s gymnastics ribbon, and that’s without considering how Minami automatically found Ai’s shut-in status as an admirable defiance of societal rules — but wasn’t able to finish off Minami’s gym teacher until Minami helped and stood up for herself.
The most important conclusion from Episode 2 is that Ai simply cannot save others without their input. Expanding the scope of this thought — it wasn’t Ai’s job to save Koito, nor was it her fault that Koito committed suicide, despite the fact that Ai obviously blames herself. The true piece of Ai’s heroism isn’t her swinging around gymnasium rafters but her burgeoning friendship with Neiru. It’s in these developing relationships where she’ll have the chance to “save” anyone at all. Again, if living is the punishment, then finding solace in building genuine relationships with others is the way to get through it all.
By contrast, this episode highlights the deep-seated hatred (both towards one’s self and to others) that comes hand-in-hand with someone close to you dies, never mind them committing suicide. The orange lilies appear again at the end of this episode, following Ai’s admission that she hates Koito just a bit for not confiding in her and hates Koito for leaving her. This accompanies her self-hatred for not helping Koito when she feels she should have, which matches Rika’s similar feelings towards Chiemi.