Ai Ohto’s room and safety in Wonder Egg Priority

Private rooms and home decor can be used in pointed ways to tell us more about the characters they belong to and Wonder Egg Priority once again seems to be borrowing a lot from Kunihiko Ikuhara’s attention to detail in all of his series — particularly Yuri Kuma Arashi and Mawaru Penguindrum.

So, let’s overanalyze Ai Ohto’s room. Why? Because while it’s not quite Lulu Yurigasaki from Yuri Kuma Arashi level, it does say a lot about Ai, her mental state, and the concept of being safe in Wonder Egg Priority.

When Ai is first introduced to the audience, it’s outside of her home where she’s wandering around at night. We later learn that Ai is a shut-in who doesn’t attend school and stays at home all day. She’s frequently framed as someone on the outside looking in, both in shots like this above, and even as someone going through a separate routine outside of the house in the series opening.

The first time Ai is shown in her room she is in her bed, which has a blue canopy over it, giving it a more closed-off feeling. Looking at the bed from the outside, it’s completely enclosed and on the top bunk, above a bottom that we never see because it’s obscured by a curtain. Initially I thought that this was to make room for a desk underneath, but Ai’s desk is later shown next to it, so we have yet to discover what’s underneath her top bunk bed.

Ai’s room is the most colorful room in the apartment she shares with her mother. Every other space is devoid of decoration, or sparsely-decorated. As Ai goes about her routine in the first episode, it purposefully shows that she stays at home (for reasons we don’t yet know at that time) but also that her home is neat, tidy, and uncluttered, despite the fact that it’s only a few rooms in total. The fact that Ai has her own room at all when she lives with only her mother is notable. In Episode 5, Ai tells her three newfound friends that her mother is highly capable of anything she does but that’s also why her father left. It’s another example in Wonder Egg Priority‘s lengthy list of ways that women are perceived and how, no matter what they do, even a positive perception is easily poisoned. Be capable but not too capable. Don’t age.

While Ai’s mother is shown as someone who not only cares for Ai but is also overwhelmingly delighted at the idea that Ai has friends, she doesn’t ever go into Ai’s room. The series makes it a point to show that Ai’s mother and Ai’s teacher, Shuuichirou Sawaki, are firmly on the outside of Ai’s “world” by placing them outside of her room at all times. It’s purposefully a bit awkward and shows Ai as someone who is distant from her mother, despite the fact that she speaks of her highly. Ai’s mother receives people in the foyer and gives them food, but isn’t shown entering Ai’s room until this preview of the sixth episode (which likely means it’s going to focus on Ai’s relationship with her mother or at least tell us a bit more about how they interact with each other).

Even before Ai was a shut-in, the series gives us a sense that her room was her safe haven. Ai didn’t have any friends before Koito Nanase, and Koito is visually shown as the only person who dares to enter Ai’s room, going as far as to peer inside the top bunk canopy while Ai is curled up in her blankets, trying to shut out the world. Following Koito’s suicide, Ai becomes a shut-in who essentially confines herself to her room at most times, but still looks out of her balcony frequently and goes out at night when no one is watching. This clicks with the rest of Ai’s personality — she’s a sunflower, a bloodied one, but a sunflower nonetheless. She wants to have friends, even as she pushes Koito away initially.

As for Ai’s room itself, it’s decorated with colorful flags, maps, plants, and paintings. The flower on her bookcase is notably a calla lily — a common funeral flower that represents purity, holiness, and faithfulness in western flower language as well as rebirth and resurrection. In the Grecian meaning, it’s also associated with the goddess Hera.

The purple and blue flowers in one of Ai’s paintings appear to be morning glories, which are also shown beside Ai in the series’ opening sequence. In Japanese flower language, morning glories mean willful promises or a brief love (since morning glories only last a day) and have an added meaning of love in vain or unrequited love from Victorian flower language.

“You got scared and ran back home, but there was no place for you there, was there?”

-Wonder Killer in Neiru Aonuma’s world, Wonder Egg Priority, Episode 5

The girls’ meeting in Ai’s room is prefaced by this lovely gem from the fifth episode’s cold open. While Neiru fights off a wonder killer monster in her world, it talks about how one eventually returns to their toxic situation, even if they try to escape, because there’s no place in the world there for them. Episode 5 is all about finding a place, and discovering that the places provided aren’t particularly safe. Wonder Egg Priority gives the four girls Ai’s room, where they talk and bond over cake, but even this is strained with the discussion of Koito and Sawaki, who Momoe defends since he is her uncle. Coupled with Ai’s flashbacks to Sawaki painting her and Koito, everything creeps in eventually, even in spaces that were once considered if not safe than at least somewhat sheltered from the rest of the world.

Wonder Egg Priority presents the girls with other options in this episode — an abandoned arcade/bowling alley that belongs to the egg arbiters, Aca and Ura-Aca, and the garden itself where they buy eggs from the gacha machine. While both of these locations allow the girls to open up to each other, it’s the girls themselves who provide the space, not the spaces themselves. The garden in particular acts as a backdrop where the flowers can say specific things about the girls at that time, but is obviously not a safe haven because it’s the domain of Aca and Ura-Aca, arbiters of the system. The screenshot above shows the girls perfectly arranged for a portrait, but this is quickly shattered, showing the fragility of their developing relationships with each other. Again, if they’re to overcome this system, they’ll have to continue the arduous and risky task of truly getting to know one another, especially because there is no physical space for them.

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