This is Saki’s chapter, so naturally there will be black everywhere.

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I hated going outside when I was little, because I could hear the voices in people’s hearts. So many voices that it made me feel sick.

Just about the only thing that seems to keep her sane is her family, who are always supportive and loving even when they don’t understand her (which is quite often for the adults).  She’s basically the only character in this series with a functioning family unit (composed of her grandmother, both parents, and Megumi) and boy did she need it.

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I wonder why I can hear the voices within people’s hearts, both family members and strangers. I wonder why I can convey my thoughts without realizing it. Nobody knows, not even me. I was born with abilities. Strange abilities…but even so, my family…they are so kind. Their words are so nice. I don’t want to cause them problems because of my powers. That’s why I do everything I can not to reveal them to other people.

She closes herself off in school in order to contain her powers (which involve both hearing those “waves” and projecting her own thoughts toward others), but of course this eventually backfires (as Elsa probably could have told her).  She still stands out as detached and gloomy, and thus she’s labeled a “witch” and constantly bullied.

Bully: Eat it! You’re a witch, right? My big sister said witches eat live newts! Don’t hold out on us!

Saki: I’m…not going to…eat this –

Bully: Hold her down! Stuff it in her mouth! Shove it in…wow…gross! She ate it! She really ate it!

Shut up…if I really am a witch, then what are you? Do you think you can do this to me without any consequences? Shut up. I hate you. I really hate you. You should just die.

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You really shouldn’t underestimate Hana-chan.

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It turns out she didn’t actually kill him, but he was in a coma for days.

Mom: Do they know what happened to the boy?

Dad: Not yet…

Saki: It’s because I wanted him to die. Because I thought “Die” over and over again. So he almost did die. I keep…trying to tell you that. […] When are you going to take me to the police? When will I go to prison? I tried to murder someone. […] I really thought I might have…killed him. I may actually kill someone next time. I’m scared…

She’s afraid of her own inescapable powers, and since those powers are fueled by emotion, it’s not enough just to hide her feelings – she has to find a way to not feel those negative emotions at all.

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I don’t want to wish for anyone’s death ever again.

This is when she decides to start wearing only black, as a “mark of [her] sin.”  But between that and the incident with the boy, her reputation as a witch is only cemented at school, causing her to be further ostracized and still picked on (if by more covert means), plus just about any accident that happens to someone near her is blamed on her “cursing” them.

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Megumi confronts her about this, because he is a wonderful brother and he cares about his sister.

Megumi: I don’t get why you don’t defend yourself. It’s not your fault that kid got hurt while taking care of the chickens. And the bullying…why do you never speak up? Do you think you deserve it?

Saki: The police can’t judge me. But I should still receive some form of punishment. Of course I should be punished…

Megumi: So you’re saying other people exist to punish you. Nothing more and nothing less. Is that how you intend to live your life?

She doesn’t want to hate anyone else, so she focuses all of her hatred squarely on herself, and her schoolmates don’t exactly help with that.

Megumi: Then I’ll pray for you. You shouldn’t have to live the rest of your life all alone, Saki. This world is bursting with people. There’s no way that there’s not a single person out there who will care about you. So, whoever you are, please come meet her. If you’re in a faraway country, take a plane. Quickly…come to Saki as soon as possible. Please…

Then in middle school, a bunch of girls decide to burn Saki’s arm with matches.  She manages to control her power by focusing on the pain, and fortunately her parents find out about it and decide to move in order to switch schools.  Because some parents actually care about their children and are willing to make sacrifices for them.

Even in a new environment, I didn’t try to get close to anyone. I thought it would be shameless of me. I thought I always had to keep in mind what I’d done.

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Then she runs into these two, who are uncowed by her standoffish demeanor and refuse to let her eat lunch alone.

Arisa: Ah, shut it! We don’t need the details! It breaks down to – you started here today, the weather is nice, we got lunch right here, and you’re gonna eat it with us two wierdos!

And thus Hana-chan was born!

You two were oddballs, even back then. I could hear your inner voices once in a while, and they weren’t all sweetness and light. You both had small, secret voices tucked away, voices that were softly crying. And yet, your warm mood never wavered.

This actually helped me pinpoint why Tohru seems to attract oddballs and outcasts, and possibly why she gets teased: She treats everyone with equal dignity and respect.  It’s strange and refreshing for people like Uo and Hana who never received such acknowledgement outside of their own small inner circles, but might be considered offensive by those of higher social standing.

Hana-chan soon fits herself into Tohru’s circle, but her past has to catch up to her someday.  Somebody knew a kid from Saki’s old school and naturally heard the rumors about her.  When she’s suddenly reminded about the boy she almost killed, Saki accidentally hurts a girl (not majorly, but noticeably).

Saki: (internally) I’m scared…I’m scared. Did I – did I use my power again? Please no…I’m scared. (aloud) Don’t. You mustn’t come near me. I apologize for not telling you. So…please stay away from me. I really do have powers, and I really did almost kill someone. So…stay away. (internally) A sin that can’t be forgotten, a stain that can’t be washed away…I don’t want to hurt anyone again. I should be shunned. That’s what I deserve.

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Tohru: We’ve gotten so close. We’re still so close, Hana-chan. I don’t want to be apart. There may be a lot I don’t know about you yet, but please, don’t pull away from us. Hana-chan, we love you. We love you, Hana-chan.

Arisa: It’s your call. Don’t assume you know how we feel. Do you want to break it off? That’s all I wanna know.

Saki: I…want to be together. I want to stay with you.

Guess Tohru has some prior experience with crisis management.

I’ve been able to control my powers for a while now. Is it because I’m calmer now, with a satisfying, fulfilling life?

Because taking care of yourself is always the first step in looking out for the people around you, both physically and emotionally.

This chapter clues us into the important concept that the magic in this story is (or at least can be) fueled by emotions.  There never is any explanation of Hana’s powers beyond that, but in the end that’s all that matters.

Sometimes, my heart aches. My family loved me so much, but it wasn’t enough. Even now, when they smile lovingly at me, I sometimes feel selfish, like I’m taking something I don’t deserve. But then I recall what Tohru’s mother once said.

Kyoko: People need other people, in my opinion. No matter how much other people abuse you, no matter how much despair you feel, and no matter how much your family loves you, we all want other people to accept us. And as for us parents, if our children are happy, that’s really all that matters. So even if you girls set out on different paths someday, you should never feel like you’re lonely or selfish. Because there are some things that last forever.

Until next time…

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