The parallels between Tohru and Akito are growing more and more apparent, especially now that we’re learning about Akito’s upbringing.
They’re both girls with masculine names, they both lost their fathers at a relatively young age, and they both had formative relationships with their mothers…
Head Maid: In the first place, Akito-san is the indisputable master of the Sohma family. Akira-san, the former Head himself, stated in his will that all authority be granted to Akito-san.
Guess there was a squabble about inheritance in the Sohma family after all. According to the Head Maid, Ren has a significant number of supporters, and that’s the reason why Akito hasn’t just shipped her off to a mental ward already. The truth is a little more complicated (but we can’t get into that quite yet).
Kureno asks Akito about that box that’s causing such a fuss.
Kureno: What is it? Is there something inside?
This is an interesting contrast with Tohru: Akito is very attached to her dead father, and it’s not just because she knew him better/longer than Tohru knew her father.
Meanwhile, Shigure is being a jerk, as usual. Although to be fair, he does actually want to discuss the whole ordeal with Rin and Akito’s “treasure box”.
Shigure: Didn’t I tell you it was a secret?
Ren: Oh, did you now? To me, it sounded like you were saying, “Go on, go get it then!”
Shigure: Whaaat? That’s outrageous. […] (internally) I don’t even want to touch that stupid box. Well, I can’t even stand to look at it either.
Ren: I should be the only one allowed to touch Akira-san. I am the only one who may take in hand his soul, his flesh and blood, and anything bearing his name. I am the only one whom Akira-san ever loved.
Ren disregards Akito’s bond with Akira in much the same way she scorns her daughter’s bond with the Members of the Zodiac…
Kureno: Akira Sohma…the previous Head of the Family and Akito’s father. Even as a child, I could see that Akira-san was as beautiful as his life was fleeting. Apparently, his doctors said he wouldn’t have long to live. Did the sorrow that befell him at such a young age produce that otherworldly beauty?
Just for the record, it seems like a common misconception that Akira was “God” of the Zodiac, too, but there’s no indication of that, and it’s later confirmed that God is a spirit like the regular members of the Zodiac, in which case you couldn’t have two “Gods” alive at the same time (not to mention they explicitly said once that God hadn’t been born in a long time before Akito).
Anyhow, the maids were intent on getting the perfect wife for their precious Akira-san, but the search took a long time – too long for Akira, it seems.
Ren: Akira-san and I met because we were meant to meet…it was fate. I was faithfully by his side, I took care of him, I was always gazing at him. “Notice me,” I thought. “My beloved, my darling, I’m right here.” I always knew…I knew that only I could save Akira-san. I was the only one for him. We had a deep connection. So deep that no one else could understand.
Head Maid: Of course we’re not going to accept a woman like you! I don’t know how you seduced Akira-san, but you need to learn your place!
Akira: […] Ren realized how lonely I was. She cried for me.
Ren’s obsession with “saving” Akira may have started out a lot like the Prince Yuki fangirls. But she ran afoul of the Sohma establishment in marrying him, fueling her martyr complex and isolating her from anyone else. She was nothing without him, but with him she was “somebody”, even if that somebody was scorned by half the Sohmas.
Ren: We were happy. Akira-san and I were the only people in the world. I was the only one in Akira-san’s world. That was enough for me.
And then Akito came along. To be fair, having all those people condemning her one day and welcoming her with celebration and reverence the next, all because of the child she’s going to have, might very well drive someone mad.
But no one was more enthralled with Akito than Akira-san.
Perhaps she truly did love Akira more than anything, but she couldn’t stand losing his attention, and after Akito was born, no one else paid her much attention, either. She wasn’t even the woman who seduced Akira anymore – just the mother of “God”. So she made them pay attention.
Kureno: Hey, did you hear they’re going to raise Akito-san as a boy? Is that really true?
Hatori: It’s true. So you can’t say anything, Kureno. […] I guess it’s a problem for the heir to be female…I heard Ren-san’s been planning to do this since the beginning. In fact, I heard Ren-san had a fit about it. She apparently refused to give birth to the baby if she couldn’t raise her as a boy. That scared Akira-san, so he agreed to do what she wanted.
Shigure: She just didn’t wanna stop being Akira-san’s “Number One.” That’s all it is. In other words, she’s jealous. Her own daughter is going to be surrounded by many men who love and cherish her. As a woman, she’s jealous.
Kureno: […] Are you saying that Ren-san is a “bad” person…?
Shigure: “I pity her,” is what I’m saying. I pity everyone in the Sohma family.
This is a really interesting scene to me because it’s one of the few scenes from Kureno’s childhood and basically the only time we see how he interacted with the “Three Musketeers” back then. One of the few things Takaya-sensei has confirmed about Kureno’s childhood is that he admired Shigure back then. I feel like I understand how that relationship might have worked itself out because I had similar relationships growing up. I’d attach to a “strong personality”, and essentially live in that person’s shadow, taking on all of their opinions because I didn’t want to come up with my own. I also know how much it hurts to separate your identity from another person’s after so many years of following their lead, how hard it is to stand in conflict with them.
Whose fault was it, really? What went wrong? Where did we go off track? The way she is now…whose fault is that? Was it favoritism? Jealousy? Twisted reasoning? Or maybe…
Ren: Haven’t you noticed? Your eyes, when you look at me, are the same as that time. Those eyes want me.
Shigure: I have noticed…when I look at you, I do feel a certain sense of affection. If Akito had been allowed to live her life as a woman, I imagine she would have looked just like you. That’s my delusion. But you were spot on before. I did want you to get that box. It’s only fitting that you have it. Since you’re the only one who should be haunted by Akira-san’s ghost. Akito sure doesn’t need that.
Dissing Ren doesn’t make your treatment of Akito any less awful, Shigure.
Long, long ago, God said to the twelve animals of the Zodiac, “I’m holding a banquet tomorrow, and you’re all invited, just don’t be late.” This “God” is you, Akito. You’re special. You were chosen. You were a child born to be loved. Everyone was waiting for you. There will be no loneliness or fear in your future. And I promise you that nothing will ever change that. You were promised eternity, unchanging. No one will leave you.
I get the feeling a lot of this was for Akira’s sake as much as Akito’s. He knew he probably wouldn’t live to see his daughter grow up, so it was comforting for him to think these things. But of course Akito took it much differently. Aside from the general favoritism and pampering, Akito’s life revolves around the Curse. She thinks that she’s special because of the Curse, and apart from it she has nothing.
And now the Curse is crumbling around her.
No one will leave you behind.
Until next time…