What do I call this feeling?

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This chapter is narrated by Yuki and possibly Kyo, but we don’t get into Kyo’s head much either way.  We don’t actually get into Tohru’s head much, either, but since she got some significant development last chapter (and got some of her own feelings out), that’s fine by me.

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Yuki: Uotani-san…is that a kamikaze unit outfit?

Arisa: Oh! I’m impressed you know it. Kyoko-san gave me this ancient and honorable Commander Red Butterfly Kamikaze Squad Uniform!

Yuki: Red Butterfly?

Tohru: That’s what Mom went by in her gang leader days.

Yes, Tohru’s wonderful mother was a gang leader in her wild youth. Yes, we will hear more of this, eventually…

Yuki: What happened to your father?

Tohru: I’m told he had a cold that turned into pneumonia. I don’t really remember it, since I was so young.

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Yuki: Oh, I see, that’s why she was so worried about me then [when he came down with a cold]. She lost both her parents. So how…how is it there’s no cloud of grief over her? How can she be smiling and so cheerful all the time? I remember the day of the accident. […] At the time, it idly crossed my mind that maybe one of her relatives had gotten into an accident. Back then I was only vaguely aware of my classmate Tohru Honda. And yet, now, living under the same roof, being this close, smiling at each other, is so strange. It’s an inexplicable feeling.

Kyo’s been pretty quiet and broody up to this point.

Kyo: Hanajima, I was wondering if you can see ghosts and stuff?

Saki:  Of course not. Do I look like a medium?

Kyo: Huh? But those waves…

Saki: Waves and the ability to sense ghosts are totally different; don’t confuse them. Waves are more like human thoughts. Instead of receiving them in my ears, words reverberate directly in my brain like radio waves.

Kyo: I didn’t ask for an explanation.

Saki: Why did you ask me about ghosts?

Kyo: It just crossed my mind. I didn’t mean anything by it.

Kyo-chan, you are a terrible liar.

Saki: Ultimately, living humans are the strongest. It’s the same with waves. I think the waves of dead people must be very weak. They’re drowned out by the thoughts of the living. It’s the same, even now…right now, your waves are crashing into my skull. Why do you stand before a grave burdened by such feelings of guilt?

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She knows or guesses an awful lot more than she’d ever tell Tohru.

Then they all sit down to a lovely graveyard picnic, making a little noise for Kyoko-san.

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Also, just to clarify, the speech bubbles occasionally indicate the speaker (and the speaker’s emotions) with cute little icons. The members of the Zodiac have their respective animals, Tohru has a rice ball, and Uo-chan and Hana-chan have a fish and a flower, respectively.  Those last two were really puzzling for me for a long time, but it’s actually quite simple: “Uo” means “fish” in Japanese, and “Hana” means “flower”.

Arisa: Y’know, recently, those three have been pretty chill when they’re together. The Prince doesn’t act like he’s looking down on us mere mortals anymore, and even Kyon is nice to Tohru in his own way. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or the other blurts out, “Tohru, I love you!” someday.

Saki: Oh, we can’t have that. I won’t give my blessing so easily to anyone who wishes to take up with Tohru-kun.

Arisa: Now you sound like a domineering mother.

Saki: Well, I’m half joking.

Arisa: And half serious?

Saki: There’s something about both Yuki and Kyo Sohma…some kind of chaos, confusion, that I can’t put my finger on, but I can tell that dark thoughts rule over their hearts. Everyone is like that to an extent, but it’s a much more serious case with them. As long as they have those thoughts, there may not be room for love.

And thus the love triangle rears its ugly head.  Saki is right, though – neither Yuki nor Kyo are ready to love anyone at this point.  She’s also right that all three of them are incredibly dense about relationships.  But they are slowly realizing that they have special feelings for Tohru, even if they don’t have a clue what they may be.

Yuki recognizes that hat from somewhere…

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…and then there’s this little interaction between Kyo and Tohru.

Kyo: Hey…I’m sorry.

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The anime version of this chapter is kind of indicative of the fundamental differences between the anime and the manga. Aside from scrubbing out the stuff with the hat and the vague foreshadowing involving Kyo (which is, again, understandable, considering that it hadn’t been explained at all in the manga at the point when the anime was in production), the most notable change actually comes at Tohru’s expense. It all comes down to the choice to flip the events of Chapters 23 and 24 around, so that Momiji’s story comes after this.

It might seem logical at first glance, and it’s certainly well executed in the anime, but it totally undermines Tohru’s character development.  She needs some sort of vent for her feelings before she visits her mother’s grave, otherwise I don’t think she could have been so genuinely cheerful.  With the events switched around, it makes it seem like she’s just always that happy and/or in tune with the people around her and their needs, like she never really needs help sorting out her own emotions.  Basically, she always knows exactly how to respond a given situation in the anime, while in the manga it’s evident that she has wants and needs like everyone else and doesn’t always know how to deal with them – she’s not perfect, only human.  When faced with a choice between presenting subtle character development and creating sentimental vignettes, the anime opts for the vignette every time.

Until next time…

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