As Arisa deals with her disillusionment about the Red Butterfly, she starts to realize that the Hondas have something she’s afraid to want.
Uotani: I’m going.
Kyoko: Oh, why? Do you have a curfew?
Uotani: One look at me and anyone can tell my parents don’t care what time I get home.
Kyoko: You can’t judge a book by its cover. Everyone’s got different circumstances.
Uotani: Look, I just feel let down, is all! The former Red Butterfly has been domesticated, and I think that sucks! You’re too damn friendly, and a doting mommy to boot! I can’t believe a legend’s been reduced to this!
Kyoko: I just…let it go.
Uotani: (internally) Why am I so pissed off? Feels like something urging me to do…what? But also like I got left behind. What the hell is this vague irritation? Maybe because I was in the middle of all that sickly sweet cheeriness? Yeesh. “Make yourself at home.” Yeah, right. […] This is where I belong. A place where I can fall as far as I want.
She’s irritated because she got a little taste of peace, but she feels like it doesn’t really belong to her (or else she doesn’t belong to it). Now she wants that for the first time in her life.
Uotani: When I was in first grade, my mom ran off with another guy. It’s just been me and my dad since then, and all he does is drink. I’m used to it. You can get used to stuff that sucks.
There’s really no safe place for her. She spends most of the time out with her gang, and on the rare occasions she goes home, it’s only a reminder that her dad couldn’t care less about what she does with her life. Nobody ever cared about her, so eventually she stopped caring about herself.
The story could very well have ended there, if Tohru hadn’t (literally) run into her again while she was trying to escape a beating.
Tohru’s first instinct is to help her out; perhaps partly thanks to her own experiences with bullies, but I think it’s mostly because she already thinks of Uo-chan as a friend.
Uotani: I’m out of place here. It only makes sense, right? I’ve never had this kind of atmosphere at home. But even if it was like this at my house, I know I’d still say stuff like “You’re not my father” and “Drop dead” to his face. I decided to talk to him like that all the time. Because if I do, it won’t matter if my house has this homey feel or not, right? It won’t matter at all. It wouldn’t make a difference.
She’s grown so accustomed to her awful life that she makes herself believe that she wants it that way, because at least she can think that she has some agency in her own life. She knows in her heart that she’s on a path to destruction, but at least she chose that path for herself.
Uotani: Have I been lonely all this time? Ever since [my mother left], is it just that I’ve been lonely? Maybe I’ve been hoping for time that’s trivial, yet precious.
Arisa: And that was a window into my shameful youth. […]
Yuki: But you didn’t tell us how you became close to Honda-san’s mother
Arisa: Ah! I see. Yeah, I just told you about me and Tohru. (internally) Maybe I should keep that one to myself. […] It’s a little embarrassing, what I was like after that.
Until next time…