I hate to keep harping on the failures of the anime, but Takaya-sensei really knew what she was doing when she organized the chapters this way. Last chapter was able to focus intimately on Kyo’s relationship with Tohru (and a little with his mom), and this one looks at his relationship with Kazuma (and a little with his mom).
First, we discover what was merely implied in the last chapter: His mother died when he was little, possibly by her own hand. And everyone started laying the blame on Kyo for being such a difficult/disappointing child, or just for being the Cat (as if he could help it). And that’s where Kazuma stepped in.
Young Kyo: It ain’t my fault! It ain’t my fault!
Kazuma: It’s all right. It isn’t your fault.
Almost from the moment Kazuma took Kyo in, people were questioning his motives and generally badmouthing him for it, which little Kyo was hardly immune to.
Kazuma: From now on, you’ll have to breathe the air of a much higher place.
Kyo: For the first time in my life, someone showed me the outside world. Someone led me by the hand. Someone stayed by my side. I can’t even begin to say how much Master saved me. I only wish he were my real father.
Kyo: Master ain’t my dad! Don’t you ever treat Master and me like we’re father and son! (internally) I don’t want people talking trash about him anymore. I don’t want to be a burden on him. He doesn’t have to be my dad if it means he’d get hurt.
As always, Kyo acts exactly the opposite of Yuki. Yuki keeps others at a distance because he’s afraid they’ll hurt him, while Kyo keeps others at a distance because he’s afraid he’ll hurt them.
But Kazuma saw that little outburst and drew the entirely logical conclusion that Kyo didn’t want him in his life or whatever. Great going, Kyo. So Kazuma decides to just slip away now that he’s done what he came to do for Kyo, but Tohru detains him and tries to make him reconsider.
Kazuma: I took Kyo in to atone. My grandfather, like Kyo, was possessed by the Cat. He was estranged from his immediate family, slandered by relatives, and treated terribly. I was one of them. I met my grandfather only once, but the cruel words just slipped out. Then Grandfather passed away, I grew up, and Kyo was born. As an onlooker, I saw for the first time the kind of environment that surrounded him, and it hit home. It was no different from how we’d behaved years before. People acted the exact same way. So I took him in as an act of atonement. Maybe what I wanted was to erase my guilty conscience. But at some point, I grew to love him. I felt like I had become his father. Just like this time, when I ignored his will and stole his beads, I pushed my one-sided feelings on him. (internally) To Kyo, my feelings are a burden.
Just to clarify (because I was pretty confused about it for a while), yes, Kazuma’s grandfather was actually his biological grandfather – evidently it is possible for members of the Zodiac to have children.
Then Tohru offers her sensible take on Kazuma’s relationship with Kyo.
Tohru: Master-san, was that really your “ego”? Somehow, I have a very warm feeling. I don’t know how you feel, but right now you seem very much like a father.
Finally, the two of them just hash things out with their fists.
Kyo: Why did you leave without saying anything? Why would you just run away like that? […] Look, I know I got a long way to go. But someday, someday I’ll be able to stand on my own two feet without hurting them or being a burden to them. Master, I’ll become someone worthy of calling you my dad! For sure, I’ll become that guy!
Kazuma: You’re still my high-maintenance son, Kyo.
You can really see how Kyo has grown physically in this chapter (the emotional growth is kind of a given). It’s a sweet conclusion to this intensely emotional little arc, although the events of the last few chapters will still have a far-reaching impact on the direction of the story and characters.
Until next time…