Two friends stand facing opposite ends of a ruined Sentan Island. A shovel is present in the foreground and bisects the viewer’s perspective between two individuals. One, featuring a pickup truck with a heavy load, represents the desire to bear the tragedies, the rubble of these events, and move forward. The slit teddy bear in her hand also serves to promote this interpretation. The other, with an ASP suit displacing rubble for its controller (or mainsoul), represents the need to detach oneself from sadness as a method of coping with tragedy. Both Haru and Furuichi have made the decision to join the Southern army, but for vastly different reasons. I just totally made this up. Quiet, you.
This is the third of three important transitions to happen in episode 5, but I am going to expand upon this particular one by also discussing the related events in episode 6. This is also my excuse to put off the other aspects of this episode for another, more relevant time.
Let’s talk similarities first. We know from the first episode that Haru and Furuichi often spar together in some form of martial art (I hesitate to say judo because I’m an uneducated hick). “Make their body a part of your own,” a central tenet that crops up every now and then from Furuichi, means to understand your environment and, from there, manipulate it. To take an outside action and smoothly incorporate it into your reaction. It certainly seems like a natural motion to receive, process, then transmit in that order. Haru and Furuichi received a Northern invasion of Humanform weapons, and in reconstruction they process the effects of the devastation. How, in this case, might they react in response to the Northern Government’s actions? Xam’d implies that their decision to enlist in the Southern ASP squadrons is merely a natural reaction that coincides with their core beliefs, in this case the principles of their martial art. They have the discipline, so perhaps they can find a place where they’re needed within the military.
Obviously, a couple of one-liners do not make up a person’s complete character, so the similarities end here.
So, what might be a better reason these two kids want to join the military?
Furuichi’s reason is simple enough to understand: he wants to be of use. I suppose that joining the military is one of those glamorous opportunities for adolescent glory, but what else can Furuichi do? Aside from the highly questionable concept of putting 16-year-olds on the front lines, perhaps Furuichi does not see the same potential or satisfaction in just rebuilding and doing charity work for the victims. You’d think that a kid his age would try for humanitarian efforts first (maybe this is just my Californian prejudices), but his mind turns to fighting unknown enemies rather than healing his community. Maybe he just doesn’t understand losing things of importance. His own family did not get impacted by the invasion and that helps in shaping his apathy towards Shidara, a classmate who lost her entire family due to the same event. Maybe it also explains his need to detach himself from the carnage during reconstruction. His behavior regarding this is a bit extreme, especially when he tells Haru to drop a damaged teddy bear in order to leave behind any sadness or worry that comes with just experiencing and observing destruction.
So while his reasons for trying to enlist are quite clear, his behavior belies any sincerity this kind of action might bring along with it. Yes, he wants to be in the service of the people who are protecting his homeland, but it’s not a motivation fueled by empathizing for those who lost a lot in this event. To justify protecting Sentan Island with a motive as abstract as his martial arts teachings or simply finding a new purpose in life seems shallow in comparison to the personal sacrifices he makes by enlisting as a soldier. What this episode doesn’t immediately tell you is that there exists more selfish reasons for Furuichi to join the military. And, well, they’re not especially touched upon in this episode. Other than the childlike admiration for ASP suits that people would inevitably experience, of course (The opportunity to operate a machine like this would be something to die for, personally).
One reason that comes to mind is envy. Furuichi seems to suffer from Childhood Friendzone Syndrome where he is obligated to pine longingly for his osananajimi and angst over his inability to just spit out his feelings. It’s obvious in this scene that Furuichi is more than disappointed in the fact that Haru is still fixated on Akiyuki even his absence; Furuichi is, to put it simply, jealous of their relationship. The easy way to interpret this is to say that Furuichi is in love with Haru, but Haru is in love with Akiyuki, which isn’t wrong. I’d say it just isn’t accurate, either. Perhaps when he was elated to see her join with him in the sense that he thought their interests aligned. Yet, what do I mean by interests? To cite Furuichi’s reason for joining the army as envy isn’t right because such a feeling isn’t apparent until after he takes the exams. However, it ends up being part of his motivation because he takes it so seriously in comparison to his more abstract reasonings. His fixation on getting Haru to forget Akiyuki is an indication of Furuichi’s own desire to, perhaps, claim Haru. To be her support and her guide after a tragedy as terrible as the invasion of Sentan Island. This all goes back to the general motive of finding a purpose after destruction. Finding somewhere to which his presence is needed. Haru joined him in this path, and to that extent Furuichi has assumed that she has done so because of him, so it’s just more disappointing to see that Haru actually joined for different reasons.
Indeed, the primary reason that Haru chose to join the army is because of Akiyuki and him alone. She carries around that armband as representation of this sentiment. Haru’s love for him is peculiar, however, in the sense that she has a much more nurturing love as opposed to having one of those awkward back-and-forth relationships that is romanticized in mainstream anime. Actually, I’m kidding myself. It’s just that I’m impressed at Haru’s thoroughness in bringing the letter to Akiyuki’s parents as well. Maybe this is only an issue because parents actually exist in this anime. I dunno lol.