Tohru finds some empty clothes lying around. And then a snake slithers up her clothes.

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Yuki: Skin this snake and roast it!

Shigure eschews such violent measures, introducing the snake as Ayame.

Shigure: Snakes hibernate in the winter, right?  So the cold weakens Aaya. Consequently, on cold days like this, he sometimes spontaneously transforms.

Apparently Shigure, Ayame, and Hatori all went to school together and generally formed an inseparable trio.  Also Aaya is Yuki’s brother.

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Tohru: It seems his personality is different from Yuki-kun’s…

More like they’re complete opposites: Yuki is self-conscious and reserved, Aaya is self-centered and flamboyant – or so it seems at first glance.

Yuki: Nii-san, do me a favor and stop making fun of Honda-san.

Ayame: How rude! It might not look it, but I have a lot of respect for her. For starters, I’ll take some tea, Princess. And I’d appreciate it if you’d hurry up and make lunch.

“Nii” just means “big brother”, although it can also be used when addressing a slightly older male relative or acquaintance, especially one looked up to like a brother (naturally).

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Ayame: It’s only natural that Yuki never talks about me. After all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, we don’t really get along. Or to be more exact, we’re not close. There’s a ten-year difference between us, for one thing, and for another, Yuki was put into isolation shortly after his birth due to medical issues. And me being me, I sometimes forgot I even had a little brother. I grew up doing whatever I pleased. By the time I came to my senses, there was a deep rift between us. […] I hear Yuki saw Akito at school. You met him too, didn’t you? How do I put this? I can’t tell you all the details, but Yuki is terrified of Akito. Much more so than the other members of the Zodiac.

Aaya really does just have strange ways of expressing respect and affection.  Ayame is the character that has risen the most in my esteem since my initial impression of him in the anime.  It’s not just that his character gets the shaft in the anime (although that’s certainly part of it), but initially, I just found him annoying, as Yuki does.  As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve been able to look past his outrageous antics (I even find them amusing) to see a decently well-adjusted adult, which is almost as scarce in this story as a good parent.  He was worried that Yuki might be depressed after running into Akito, so he decided to pay his little brother a visit to make sure he was alright.  It would seem like simple common decency.

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Tohru: Do you have regrets?

Ayame: It’s strange, but as you get older, things you couldn’t comprehend in childhood become clear. “I should have done that at the time.” “I should have said such and such.” In that way you start to understand. It may be closer to penitence than regret. Perhaps I wish to repent, and erase my ignorant childhood self. […]

Tohru: But my mom once told me you only understand how a parent feels after you become one yourself. Still, what you really need to understand, what you must never forget, is your childhood self. The first time you did a somersault, the first time someone got really angry at you…if you can clearly remember how you felt as a child in various circumstances, even after becoming an adult or a parent, you can understand others. It may not be 100%, but you’ll be able to meet people halfway. So, um, what I’m trying to say is, uh, both you and Yuki-kun should meet each other halfway from now on!

It’s interesting to see the different ways that Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame (the main adults in the Zodiac) regard their sins. Shigure doesn’t really regret or feel guilty about much at all, even if he acknowledges that he’s done a lot of bad things. Hatori, on the other hand, assumes guilt for many things that might not actually be his fault.  But Ayame has a clearer perspective, acknowledging that he did a lot of things wrong (and didn’t do things he should have done), but instead of dwelling on the past, he tries his best to make up for it. He’s a long way from actually conveying that intention to Yuki, but he’s doing what he can, and he’s nothing if not persistent.

Tohru: Um, Yuki-kun, do you hate your brother? […]

Yuki: “Hate” is a little strong.  More like…I’m uncomfortable around him. I never really know what he’s thinking.

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Well, one thing Aaya could certainly work on is a little more respect for personal space…and I have a feeling Yuki would tolerate him a bit more if he was actually able to see him show respect to Tohru.

Until next time…

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