I love this story for many reasons, and one of the biggest is its true to life characters. Their issues are amplified, of course, but at their core, they have very relatable problems. I’ve yet to find another character that resonates with my time in school quite like Yuki Sohma.
Yuki-kun, you’re a nice guy, but there’s some part of you that rejects other people.
I was a model student, but for various reasons, I was never able to stay at any school for more than two years. That was why I started keeping my peers at arm’s length. I knew that it would only be temporary, so why bother? Yuki’s reason for keeping his peers out of reach are ill-defined at this point (both for himself and the reader), but there’s more to it than keeping his “secret”.
Yuki: Kyo is different. He’s shy like nobody’s business, but I think he’s the kind of person who lets people in once they get to know him…he’s always been like that. Even if he can’t become one of the Zodiac, he gets along naturally with regular people. I think that’s better. That’s why it irritates me when I see how Kyo wants to join the twelve Zodiac.
Much of the chapter is spent on a little heart to heart between Yuki and Tohru, spurred on by Yuki doling out a sound thrashing to Kyo.
Tohru: Kyo-kun…did you bite your tongue?
Kyo: I’m not that much of a screwup. Anyway, scram. Leave me alone! Ah…I didn’t mean that […] Ow…he really dialed it up on me today. Guess he was in a bad mood.
Congratulations, Kyo! You managed to take back your rash words and continue a conversation.
Anyhow, Tohru invites Yuki to tell her about his troubles, and he takes her up on the offer.
Yuki: When I lived with my parents, it felt like I was locked in a cage being monitored by the main household and Akito. I longed for a normal life, surrounded by normal people. That’s why I left and started going to a coed high school. But in the end, I’m still in a cage. […] It’s hard to socialize with regular people. I don’t mean to reject anyone, but I’m somehow awkward around them. It feels like I’m drawing a line so no one gets too close to me.
Tohru: Sohma-kun, you have the strength to let people get close, too. Lots of people like you. They say you’re nice.
Yuki: I only act nice because I want them to like me. It’s the same as giving kids candy because you want them to let you play, too. I only act nice for my own sake.
Then Tohru finds out about Yuki’s “Secret Base”: A vegetable garden that he’s been cultivating. Tohru offers to help him defend the base from a typhoon.
Yuki: You’re kind, Honda-san…
Tohru: What!? That…Aaah! That’s the first time anyone’s ever said that to me! I’m so happy…ah, but maybe I’m only doing it because I want to seem like a good person, so it could be hypocritical!
Yuki (internally): No, it comes totally naturally to Honda-san…
Tohru-kun is adorable. That is all.
Tohru: My mother always said it’s better to believe than doubt. She said people aren’t born with a conscience. We’re only born with “wants”, she said, like appetite and material desires. In other words, survival instincts. The conscience is something that develops, like our bodies. It’s our heart that grows inside of us. She said that’s why there are different forms of kindness, depending on the person. […] When I realized that kindness comes in a variety of forms, it excited me. Sohma-kun, your kindness is like a candle. It suddenly lights up. And when it does, it makes me so happy that I can’t help but smile. That’s your kindness.
Kyoko [Mom]: Everyone has desires from the moment they’re born, so that’s easy to understand. But kindness is something that each person has to craft for themselves. It’s easily misinterpreted or taken for hypocrisy. But you, Tohru…I want you to believe. Anyone can doubt. That’s easy. Become the kind of girl who can believe in other people. And I’m sure you will give someone strength.
Just one more thing: Kyo hates leeks. Not chives, leeks. I honestly don’t have a clue why they decided to translate it as chives, but it’s a blatant mistranslation, because chives and leeks are not interchangeable, culinarily speaking.
Next time: Kagura