Momoe Sawaki’s addition to the Wonder Egg Priority cast in the series’ fourth episode also introduces two major hiccups to the series’ narrative. The first — and seemingly at the time, more pressing one — is that of Ai Ohto’s teacher Shuuichirou Sawaki and the fact that he is framed as predatory by the series itself, is linked to the death of Ai’s friend Koito Nanase, and just so happens to be Momoe’s uncle.
The second is of Momoe’s gender presentation.
It’s no coincidence that in the series’ tenth episode, Momoe’s focus episode, Wonder Egg Priority returns to both of these plot threads.
When Momoe is first introduced to the rest of the cast, it’s framed very specifically through visual and flower language. First Wonder Egg Priority shows Momoe walking by herself at night and then Rika Kawai walking into the flower garden owned by Aca and Ura-Aca in the opposite direction during the day. When Rika walks in, she’s framed by the typical wisteria but also by what are most likely hibiscus flowers in the background. These hibiscus flowers continue to frame both Neiru Aonuma and Rika as they sit on a park bench together when Momoe arrives.
Hibiscus flowers are tied to femininity, specifically that of young women. In Victorian flower language, a hibiscus flower meant that the giver was specifically recognizing delicate feminine beauty. In Japanese flower language, hibiscus flowers typically mean a gentle nature. Here, Wonder Egg Priority first gives us someone who — despite the fact that she noticeably dresses in a more “sporty” way with a varsity jacket and jeans — is expressly feminine in Rika and then contrasting that with Momoe’s boyish appearance all against the backdrop of hibiscus flowers. Momoe is shown as taller than both of them, with her head out of the frame while the two sit on opposite sides of the bench, and initially they mistake her for a boy. This leads to a rigid (and controversial) conversation between the two Acas regarding women and men.
After this exchange, Momoe is shown crying at her masculine-presenting reflection until Ai shows up and immediately recognizes her as a woman. This foreshadows events in Episode 10, aptly titled “Confession.”
When looking at a feminine-presenting version of herself in the train window, Momoe smiles and looks proud. This is how she’s introduced in the cold open before we find out that she goes on an awful date with one of her Instagram followers: a gay man who thought she was a boy. This immediately re-orients the conversation around Momoe, how she presents herself, and how others perceive her due to that presentation. Although she’s not physically present in the garden scene, Momoe’s visual transformation is juxtaposed with a small change that Neiru makes to her hair — all done against the backdrop of hibiscus flowers once again.
Momoe’s charge in this episode is Kaoru Kurita, a trans boy who was abused by his teacher. Kaoru is framed by the colors of the trans pride flag and a Rubin’s vase on accompanying advertisements. These are two clear nods to the fact that Kaoru is a trans boy. The flag is self-explanatory. The Rubin’s vase is an ambiguous psychological test by Edgar Rubin which presents an image (typically of a vase in the center and/or the profiles of two people facing each other) where you can only perceive one image at once.
Kaoru immediately sees through Momoe’s typical Momotaro bluster — Momoe’s way of presenting herself as a masculine hero to her charges that plays into her physical presentation — and identifies Momoe’s actual name by guessing. He’s so secure in his gender, even with the disgusting abuse he had to go through, that his bravery leads to Momoe’s own confession: she’s a girl and she wants to be recognized as one.
Their post-Wonder Killer chat in the train terminal is poignant and affecting. Momoe recognizes Kaoru’s bravery and receives what is presumably her first kiss from a boy because of it. Her blushing reaction and “shhhhh” sign to her pet is telling, especially given how hesitant she was in all of her other interactions either a masculine hero to her charges or someone that girls at her school “didn’t mind” was a girl.