Welcome to the banquet.
Did I hate him, then? Indeed, I believe so. A love like that can grow to be nine-tenths hatred and still call itself love.
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
In order to freely participate in the “Outside” world, Yuki must square with his past trauma.
But first, student council shenanigans!
Okay, so there is actually some more serious goings on in the form of Machi. She claimed she was home sick for a few days after she wrecked the student council office.
Kimi: But Kimi was sure she’d just run away to avoid taking responsibility for trashing the student council office!
Yuki: Kimi, Kimi, Kimi!
Naohito: No, this is an issue that should be addressed! Kuragi, why would you do that!?
Machi: I’m terribly sorry for causing so much trouble. I won’t do it again. I’ll never do it again. I promise.
Yuki: You say you “Won’t do it again”, but doesn’t saying that only put you under more pressure? “I’ll never do it again” doesn’t solve the problem, does it? Both sides need to understand why you do things like that.
He doesn’t get the chance to probe Machi any further (not that she would have really opened up in front of everyone), and he suddenly remembers he has a class discussion to attend to.
The class is supposed to put on a Cinderella play for the annual cultural festival, and Yuki recused himself from the role of Prince Charming (claiming he was too busy with student council and that the role just wouldn’t suit him). This throws the whole casting situation up in the air (the roles are decided by vote), and what lands is guaranteed to be amusing: Yuki’s the fairy godmother, Minami’s the stepmother, Tohru’s the stepsister (because the Yuki fangirls ganged up on her), Kyo is the Prince (because of course he’s the second hottest guy, even if he’s not always charming), and Hana-chan is Cinderella. I assume every girl just voted for herself and Saki won because she got votes from Arisa and Tohru.
But of course Kyo is the only one who’s really unhappy with his part.
Tohru: I think it’s great that you’re playing the Prince. Master-san will be so pleased!
Kyo: Don’t tell him! Don’t you dare tell him!
They have the sense to appeal to Tohru to help resign Kyo to his fate, but as Yuki heads back to student council, Tohru offers him a little encouragement.
Tohru: Um, don’t work too…Please, do your best.
Then Yuki gets himself locked in a dark closet.
This is so lame. If I were really like a prince, I’m sure I wouldn’t get myself locked in a room.
He knocks over a can of black paint (don’t ask me how he can tell that it’s black in the dark), and it forcibly reminds him of Akito – specifically, that conversation we never heard at the summer house.
Akito: Yuki. How pathetic. You, trying to live a positive life…it hurts to watch. It really does. I can tell, though. I know what you want, what you’re looking for in Tohru Honda…
Yuki starts to feel sick, but Machi breaks down the door and saves the day.
Yuki: Machi, thank you.
Machi: I thought maybe you wouldn’t like being helpless and alone.
He extended compassion and understanding to Machi, and now she seems to extend it to him.
Manabe takes Yuki outside, and Yuki admits that it was probably the memories more than the paint fumes that made him sick. Manabe invites him to talk about it, and Yuki actually takes him up on the offer. It might seem strange that Yuki would talk about his past with someone like Manabe who knows absolutely nothing about his situation, but in my experience it’s surprisingly helpful to tell your story to a (relatively) disinterested third party. If nothing else, it forces you to frame your past in a new and sensible manner so that it can be coherent to someone else, and on top of getting a fresh perspective from the other person, it makes you look at the events in a different way.
Yuki: I’ve never told anyone this before. I’ve never even told the person in question…It’s just too pathetic. Pitiful, really.
I was looking for a “mother” in her.
We’ll get an explanation…next time.
Rin has a very unique relationship with Tohru. I mentioned before that she seriously needs someone to look after her, but Rin is one of the few people to recognize that Tohru needs her share of love and attention, too, even if she never asks for it.
But first, Tohru made a bunch of gelatin, prompting this conversation.
Kyo: Have you been visiting Rin at the hospital? Is that it?
Tohru: Ah. Yes…how did you know?
Kyo: Lucky guess.
Tohru: For some reason, you’ve been spot on at guessing things about me lately, Kyo-kun.
Kyo: It’s probably just that you’re an open book, right?
Those two are just too adorable.
Apparently, gelatin is one of the few types of food Rin doesn’t hate (which makes sense for someone with a sensitive stomach).
She was suffering as she clung to me. She was in so much pain, and all I could do was hold on. Even so, there must be something I can do. […] I’m sure she’s been burdened with these troubles for a long time. Enduring them alone, suffering the pain all alone.
Tohru doesn’t have a clue about Haru, but I think that even when Rin was with him, Haru was just something to ease the pain or distract from it, not really help with it.
I must concur with Tohru: Rin looks adorable with her hair like that. But she hasn’t forgotten what Tohru said about breaking the curse, so they cut to the chase.
Rin is the first Zodiac member that Tohru actually discusses the curse with. Part of it is due simply to Rin’s bluntness, and partly thanks to their common purpose.
Tohru: Akito-san told me…he said he’s like a god to the Members of the Zodiac, that everyone will live with him. Everyone living in the same place, at the same pace. He said, “Nothing will ever change.” Is that what the curse is to the Members of the Zodiac? Is that “bond” the curse?
Rin: It’s not as if I have any memory of it, but God and the spirits of the Zodiac made a promise. It was a long, long time ago. Hundreds of years or more. To be together, for eternity. No matter how many times they were reborn, the spirits would go to God’s side and never leave. They would meet, and stay forever. Together…forever. We’re bound by that promise even now. Even if we don’t remember it, the blood of the Zodiac spirits remembers. From the outside, a “bond” may sound romantic, but if it feels like a burden to those involved, then it’s only a manacle. That’s why it’s a “curse”.
It’s because the bond holds them back when they want to join a wider world that they call it a “curse”. That’s the story of every Member of the Zodiac – either they’re rejected by the people they love because of what they are, or Akito simply enforces barriers between them and the outside world and they’re forced to go along with it.
Then they actually start talking about a way to possibly break the curse, and when Tohru mentions Kureno, Rin immediately shoots her down.
Rin: Don’t bother. He does whatever Akito says, so he wouldn’t be any help. He’s shady to begin with. He hardly even counts as one of us Zodiac members.
Tohru: […] I…I will go ask Kureno-san! I’ll ask him if he knows a way –
Rin decides the best way to defuse the situation is to trip Tohru, but at least she manages to talk a little sense into her (even if Tohru really might be on to something).
Rin: How do you not break if you’re like this all the time…? […] Why do you want to break the curse? What is it that you refuse to give up? The one thing most precious to you. What is it?
Tohru is strangely speechless at this…
Rin: Don’t throw caution to the wind and do something like visiting Kureno on your own…
Tohru: Deal! As long as you promise not to push yourself too hard as well, Isuzu-san. This is the beginning of a wonderful partnership!
Once again, I must concur with Tohru. They can both benefit from a little accountability, whether in curse-breaking or in slightly more ordinary affairs.
The one thing most precious to you. What is it?
Tohru: Why couldn’t I say anything? It’s a question I would’ve been able to answer right away up until now.
She dreams of her mother for the first time in a long time (I think since Chapter 1).
Rin: She doesn’t let anyone see it, but on the other side of that door, I somehow get the feeling that she’s quietly falling apart. If that happens, no one will be able to get her back. I hope someone who’ll care about her, like Haru does for me, will appear before her and gently open that door. People like her need someone like that. People who know how scary it is to be alone need to have someone to love.
Until next time…
With Rin in relatively stable condition (both physically and emotionally), Yuki returns once again to student council shenanigans.
I realized there’s something we have in common. In just one way, Rin and I are alike. We were looking for the same thing.
Just keep this in mind for a bit. I promise we’ll actually get around to this thing very soon.
Haru: I was shocked, real shocked. I go there to visit [Rin], and she’s waving around her IV stand…[…] They told me I was detrimental to the patient’s recovery, so I didn’t get to talk to her after all. […] It seems like between her body’s weakness and complications from ulcers, she’s gonna be staying there for a while, but based on her fighting spirit, I went away relieved.
Good for you, Haru. At least those two more or less know where they stand now. I think.
Then Kimi pages her darling Yun-yun <3, enraging the Yuki fangirls once again.
Yuki: Kimi, you didn’t just use the school intercom for that, did you…?
Haru: So that’s the kind of girl you’re into, huh…Yun-yun?
Yuki: Don’t call me Yun-yun – besides, she’s definitely not my type!
Manabe chews out Yuki for not having a cell phone (this is supposed to be 1999, so they’re still something of a novelty). And this happens.
Haru: Please, take good care of Yuki.
Manabe: I promise to make your daughter happy, sir!
Haru: […] Go on, Yuki, you’ve got a meeting to get to, don’t you? Don’t wanna be late. […] Good luck, to both of us.
As strange as it may seem, Manabe really does step up after this and kind of takes over Haru’s role as Yuki’s best friend. It’s a little sad, but Haru really does have a lot of his own problems to sort through, and I think he’s glad Yuki’s found someone else he can rely on.
Then Manabe tries to sell Yuki on a cell phone.
Yuki: Hmm…but a guardian has to sign the contract, right?
Manabe: Oh? Do you not get along with your parents?
Yuki: Don’t get along…? It’s more like we’re buttons…in the wrong holes.
In the TokyoPop edition, the metaphor was “pushing each other’s buttons”, but it seems like this is the more accurate translation, referring to shirt buttons (as seen in Manabe’s little demonstration later). Still not sure if I forgive the whole “chives” fiasco, though.
And Machi trashed the student council office (again).
Manabe: Machi…sheesh! Why do you do this…? […] Hey. Would you let me take care of this? In other words, I’d appreciate it if you’d all turn a blind eye to this.
Naohito: No way! We can’t do that!
Yuki: Okay. Got it. For now, you’ll handle this. […] (internally) I know Machi did it. But I have the feeling it would be wrong to make a fuss about it. She must have a reason, but we need to calm her down first. Besides, it seems like Kakeru understands the circumstances…I got an odd vibe from both of them the first time we met. They seem close, but not romantically…
After Yuki finishes the meeting, the room is still a mess and Machi apparently went home.
Yuki: Well, good luck, Kakeru.
Manabe: Whaa!? You’re not gonna help me?
Yuki: I have things to do too. You said you’d “make up for it,” remember?
Manabe: Flyyyyyy! *throws armful of papers*[…] I don’t understand. Why does Machi do things like this? She won’t talk about it. When I asked if it was my fault, she just left.
He’s trying to make sense of her in his own Nabe way – and it turns out he and Machi are siblings (despite the different last names).
Manabe: Our family’s kind of complicated. Our dad is pretty rich, so there was a big ruckus over which of us was gonna inherit everything. See, Machi and I are siblings, but we have different mothers. I’m the eldest, but I’m also the son of Dad’s mistress. Machi’s the daughter of his wife, but she’s a girl and also a year younger than me. So our two mothers started a ferocious competition. Both saying, “My child deserves to be named heir!” Because of this, Machi and I both had extremely strict childhoods. At first, I was a good little boy and tried to live up to every demand. You know how parents are your whole world when you’re a kid. But then one day I started thinking, “Isn’t this kinda weird? They dragged me into this ridiculous competition!” I guess that was my budding ego asserting itself. I was like, “I’m done playing your game!” and went on a rampage. After that, I guess my mom came to her senses too cause she pulled out of the issue. And so I was free! That takes us up to now. I guess…Machi might not be “free” yet.
Manabe’s so committed to laziness, this actually makes a ton of sense. He’s not mean-spirited, he just loves the freedom to underachieve.
Yuki: Even so, you have to deal with it. No matter how hopeless, exasperating, or infuriating they are, a kid can’t exchange their parents, just as parents can’t exchange their kid. For parents and children, there is no “You won” or “You lost.” That’s why you have to deal with the hand you’re dealt. Like…redoing the buttons…
Manabe: You don’t have to. You can leave them mismatched if it starts to look good on you.
Manabe: But there you go! Laughter works too! Throwing up your hands and laughing is just fine.
Yuki: (internally) Everyone lives with the burden of various things in various forms. Everyone…Kakeru, Machi, me…even “parents”.
Yuki suddenly sneaks over to the Sohma compound to ask his mother for a signature (for a cell phone contract). He never even angsted over it this time! He’s getting better.
And it looks like his mom is getting a little better, too.
Mother: Yuki…be sure to use it properly.
Yuki: I don’t think she’s ever told me anything like that before. That’s not really a line I’d expect from a parent like her.
There you go! Throwing up your hands and laughing is just fine.
That’s what you call “advice”, Yuki.
Maybe someday, we’ll all be able to look back and laugh.
Until next time…
Rin’s caught in a vulnerable position at Shigure’s house (she’s in bed for 95% of the chapter), so naturally Tohru wants to look after her – but Rin doesn’t want help, especially from Tohru.
Every time I was about to enter that house, I always prayed. Would they be in a good mood? If not, I thought I could wait it out. Like a stone…like a “thing” that felt nothing.
I would wait until the day they would accept me again. They would forgive me, wouldn’t they? We can still go back to that, right?
Rin’s yearning for peace is so much stronger because she actually had it (or felt she had it) for a little while.
So Haru finds her collapsed on the sidewalk and runs to get help from Kazuma.
Before all this happened, we sometimes played together. When I told him I liked his soft white hair, the surprised look on his face was so cute.
This leads to Rin’s first hospital stay (of many). The doctor implies that she may have faced some serious physical abuse, although I don’t think we ever find out if that’s what messed up her insides or it was just the mountain of stress she was under.
Kazuma: Hatsuharu found you lying on the ground – do you remember what happened?
Rin: I have to get home. I have to go home…
Kazuma: I already called your house. I need to talk to your parents about what’s going on with you, Isuzu. Isuzu, you just need to rest.
Rin: Why…? Don’t do that! Why!? Don’t talk to them! Leave us alone! It’s because I’m bad…it’s all my fault…I have to get home…!
Rin’s Mother: It’s fine. You don’t have to come home anymore. It’s all right with me if you go somewhere I’ll never have to see you again. I just don’t know anymore. I don’t know how to love you.
So first Rin was convinced that her family was only in shambles because of her, then her parents all but confirm this in her view by essentially telling her she’s failed to earn their love. The way she tries to keep her (very serious) family problems private is common in victims of abuse, and naturally only helps the abuse continue.
Haru: How…? How can you say something like that? What’s a kid supposed to do when their parents say crap like that? Rin thinks she’s the one who’s “bad”, but you! Look at what you did to her! If that ain’t “bad”, I don’t know what is! You take your stress out on us, you beat us, you laugh at us, you ignore us…kids get hurt just like you morons, you know! Why can’t you understand something that simple!? Apologize! Apologize now! Apologize to Rin!
I love Haru so much. He said the words that I wanted to write.
After that, my parents didn’t visit me at the hospital, and I didn’t return home. And just like that, my family was no more. It was decided that I would stay at Kagura’s house, but moving into a household that wasn’t broken only made my heart ache. I couldn’t even sit down for dinner with them.
She doesn’t really hate families and people who are whole and happy – it’s just a painful reminder of when her family was that way, too.
I’d shut myself up in my room, and anger, hatred, and sadness – towards my parents and myself – would come welling up inside me. What did I do wrong? Where did I make a mistake? Was it really too late to go back and start over? Maybe I never should have been born?
Whenever I’d start drowning in those thoughts, Haru would appear. He would take me outside, and we’d chat about this and that. We would eat together. Right. And even when I was in the hospital, Haru would always come to see me. I didn’t mind any of that. When Haru was around, I forgot about being miserable. Haru was a strange boy, but also kind. It felt like I could fall in love with him. And maybe…I did. No. I couldn’t do this. Someone like me, a “love” like this…it would be twisted.
And this is when Haru chose to confess his love to her. It’s not like there was liable to be any better time to put it out there, but he might have ended up pushing Rin too far too fast.
It had to be Haru. I depended on him. I clung to him. I wanted all of Haru. My desire for him only grew stronger with each passing day. But a “love” like that would surely crush Haru eventually. If Haru came to hate me and went away…
Rin had her share of reservations (reasonable or not) that she never really voiced, besides the ever-present threat of Akito. Haru couldn’t possibly have sensed all of it if he’d wanted to (and it’s pretty clear he didn’t want). And then Akito DOES find out (hmm, I wonder what scumbag might have tattled on them?).
Akito: Whose idea was it? Hatsuharu’s? Or yours? Which of you is going to incur my displeasure? You know, when I get angry, I lose control of myself. Like Hatori’s left eye. That was unfortunate.
Rin: Me…it was me. Of course it was me! I seduced him!
What’s really sad is that she might actually believe that. Haru was her white knight – he wouldn’t do anything so wrong, except by her bad influence.
Akito: I really do hate women. You’re shameless. Why did you put your hands on what is mine? […] Now I see…heh. You’re pathetic. Ah-ha-ha-ha! You…you’re worthless. Rotten to the core. Being with Hatsuharu can’t change that. In fact, your depression will devour him. You need to realize how little you’re worth. You’re only kept around to make the numbers match up, and don’t you ever forget it! I don’t need you.
Then he pushes Rin out of a second floor window. And Hiro just happened to be walking by…
But Haru…he did want me. They told me they didn’t need me, but there is someone who wanted me. That made me happy. Nothing could have made me happier. I was happy. Thank you. I was glad. But this is enough. Enough, Haru. Next time Haru, you have to be happy. So I’ll release you from me, from Akito, from everything that ties you down. I want to set you free. You know, Haru, your true “happiness” is in a bigger world. I’ll search for it. I’ll find it. Because I’m okay, even if it ends with nothing left in my hands.
She thinks that Haru wasn’t truly “happy” with her, that he couldn’t have been – or if he was, it’s only some inferior version of happiness which he would better experience without her. It’s telling that she thinks first of releasing Haru from herself before Akito. Rin honestly believes that she’s less than worthless, so she’s willing to give up her life for the sake of her idealized “pure” Haru.
Until next time…
Haru understood me. He cherished me. He loved me. That’s why…that’s exactly why…