If there’s one thing we can all agree on about Morita, it’s that he does a superb job of inserting his signature comic relief wherever he goes. However, he also serves as an important part of the glue that holds the group together, simultaneously taking on the role of the overenergetic “idiot” type and the mature perceptive type. He jokes around with Takemoto, forcibly giving him a haircut that grows with him throughout the series, but he also sees through much of Mayama’s pain, and he spends enough time with Ayumi that I was almost rooting for a relationship between them when I first watched the show. He’s a bit like Mayama in the sense that he helps the other characters out – usually the younger and less mature ones – but he also has a distinct story arc of his own. In fact, he has two.
His first (and probably main) story is the one that centers around his family, which is largely disconnected from the rest of the characters. It’s also largely self-explanatory. However, I found it to be a moving little side-arc because it dealt with something that, once more, I’ve always wondered about but have never seen portrayed in fiction: the danger of talents. It must be excruciatingly painful to have something that you’re passionate about but to be unable to excel in it because you weren’t born with the right abilities, but the situation becomes even more awkward when the one with the talents has no desire to use them. Morita looked like he enjoyed his father’s work, but he was never passionate, never ambitious. It was his brother who wanted to succeed, and just like their father’s friend, Kaoru was unable to grasp the goal that Shinobu was born with his hand clasped onto. It’s a bittersweet story with no winner or loser, keeping with the tone of the rest of the show, and it explores the dark side of talent and ability that most would fear to examine too closely.
The second part of his story almost felt minor in comparison, but his feelings for Hagu were ultimately an important part of the big picture. Aside from the fact that his existence greatly influenced Takemoto’s decisions, we can see that Morita himself was outgoing, and that he wanted her to return his feelings. We don’t know what kind of experiences he had in his past, but he looked like he knew what he was doing, and he was making brooches before his rival even realized that he was in the middle of a war-zone. His outgoing nature led him closer to Hagu’s heart than Takemoto could have gotten, and perhaps it was their conflicting personalities that led her to develop feelings for him, but as we already know, those feelings could never be returned for a very unique reason.
Looking back, Morita is the only of the five main characters whose experience with love was not expounded upon in detail. If anything, it was the concern for his friends, hidden behind a facade of buzz cuts and Hollywood trips, that made up the crux of his character. Love, for him, was something that he desired beyond question – he seemed to have as few doubts and hesitations as Ayumi – but it was also not a priority; the difficulties in his life, and his obligations toward his brother, his friends, and even the object of his affection, eventually overrode his desire to be with Hagu. He was not defeated by a rival or by the person herself, but rather, he lost to the practical difficulties of the real world.