So there are these delinquent chicks that have kind of been around since Chapter 39 that I neglected to mention because they weren’t really intruding on the narrative. Now they are.
They’ve been trying to “call out” Arisa for leaving her gang and failing miserably.
Arisa: And to think…I used to be like that…I wanted people to notice me, but at the same time I wanted to be left alone. […] I often went to the Honda home. Kyoko-san always welcomed me with a smile. She would listen to my immature ramblings and weigh in with her wisdom. Somewhere along the way, that place became my comfort zone. Chalk it up to the strength of Kyoko-san and Tohru, I guess.
Uotani: Tohru, why are you always so polite?
Kyoko: Katsuya – oh, Katsuya is her dad’s name – ingrained politeness was his thing, and it just rubbed off on her, right? But I don’t mind! She’s adorable!
Tohru hardly ever mentions her dad, even though he evidently had a significant impact on her, while she’s always thinking about her mom. It can’t be that she’s forgotten about him, even if she was only three or four when he died – Kyoko made sure that he was remembered. But we’ll have to wait on that.
Anyhow, under the Honda influence, Uotani starts going to school again in order to spend more time with Tohru.
Arisa: When I think back, I can honestly say Tohru was always there for me. But it seemed like the people around us couldn’t see that we were friends. Guess I can’t blame them.
Uotani knows that people are growing suspicious of Tohru now that she’s associating with a girl like her, and she hates to see her hurt by it (as oblivious as Tohru may be). So she decides to quit her gang, which seems to entail getting beat up by every other member.
Uotani: Crap. I’m scared. I want to run away. I want to run away so badly…but still, I want to change, is what I thought. I’ve never felt this way before. I can’t stand the way I am. I want to change.
Then the Red Butterfly shows up to rescue her. Apparently Uo-chan’s “senpai” from the gang went to get her help.
Kyoko: So you quit your gang, huh? That’s a big step. I’m proud of you.
Uotani: Nothing to be proud of. I caused you trouble, Kyoko-san.
Kyoko: No trouble at all! I brushed the brats away and they fled. But you’re lucky. One of the girls was looking out for you. Lots of kids get beaten half to death when they quit their gang. All things considered, you’re lucky.
Kyoko: There’s a feeling you can’t understand unless you get hurt and cause trouble. There’s also a feeling you won’t get unless you hit rock bottom. You rebel against the ideals of life, but then everything goes bad, and for the first time, you find yourself yearning for those ideals. Pain would mean nothing without kindness. Darkness can’t stand out without the sun. Neither is something to scoff at. Both sides of the equation have meaning. So even if you stumble and make mistakes, it isn’t for nothing. If you think to yourself, “I won’t let this be for nothing!” it’ll turn into something that will help you grow.
Personally, I believe that everyone has to reach rock bottom at some point in their lives, although it looks different for everyone. How you react at that point can determine your trajectory for years to come, if not the rest of your life. You can bounce back and just do your best to forget it, or you can let it change you. You can say, “I won’t let this be for nothing!” And it won’t.
Uotani: I want to be Tohru’s best friend. I want to be a best friend that Tohru can be proud of! (internally) That’s what made me want to change. That thought still spurs me on. When I look back now, it’s a little embarrassing. Getting carried on her back, blubbering like a little kid, but it wasn’t for nothing. […] It really is great when you’re not alone. I made it to second year of middle school, met Hanajima, and life became even more fun. I think Kyoko-san was enjoying it as much as we were. But then…her death…that’s a lie, isn’t it? The darkened windows of that apartment – that’s a lie too, right? I loved her. She owed this brat nothing, and yet came to my rescue. She was a softie, but straightforward, and warmer than anyone I’ve ever known. I loved her.
Then these brats interrupt her reverie (well, that and Hana-chan threatening them with waves).
Arisa: Be happy I’m only shaming you, little girl. If you just want to strut your stuff, there are lots of other ways to do it. So stop trying to stir up trouble like this, before it gets out of hand. If it’s just a scolding that you need, then come see me any time.
Thus another delinquent is reformed by Kyoko’s (indirect) influence.
Arisa: I can’t see Kyoko-san ever again, but she left a lot behind for me. Her words, her feelings…and Tohru. All of them are things that will help me grow.
Also, we get a brief glimpse of Arisa nagging her dad, and it’s great to see that she was actually able to improve her own home life, even if it’s still a little sad that she has to take on that responsibility herself.
Until next time…