Kyo experiences some severe emotional fallout from that play.
The stage is set for Class 2-D’s play, but Yuki and the narrator seem to be the only people who care about fidelity to the source material (or telling a coherent narrative at all).
Now that Yuki’s had a chance to air out his past (and confirm to the audience that his feelings for Tohru are purely platonic), we turn back to Kyo and Tohru, who are both kind of stressed out about the Cinderella play (amongst other things).
This is a rare occasion, so I hope we can put on a good show. Everyone’s working together. And we all owe a debt of gratitude to…
Ever the reliable brother. Also, Mine is obviously pleased by Saki’s request for a pure black dress. Saki has an affinity for the strangest people…
Those two blew in like a storm…I know their attitudes take some getting used to, but we can’t let their good will go to waste.
The two biggest problems they’re having is that Tohru can’t even pretend to be mean (especially to Hana-chan) and Kyo has refused to attend rehearsals.
So the class writer proceeds to rewrite the script, and Tohru requests that she make the Prince easier for Kyo to play. Yuki offers to look for Kyo so that Tohru can tell him the good news…and it turns out he’s just being a broody grumperpuss.
Anything he touches isn’t mine anymore. After he touched it, I don’t care about it anymore. I just don’t care.
Yuki: You’re like a little kid. What are you sitting here pouting for? Go back to the classroom. They’re waiting for you.
Kyo: I’m not pouting. […] I’m only here because you put me in a lousy mood in the first place.
Yuki: If that’s the case, you should take it up with me. Unless you enjoy making other people – making Honda-san – worry about you?
Kyo: Don’t talk about her!…Treating me like an imbecile when you don’t know the first thing about me! You had your mommy and daddy by your side, with everybody else fawning all over you, always telling you how important you are! Someone who’s always floated through life while the rest of us struggle in the mud could never understand the way I feel! You’ve lived your life like a pampered prince! You can’t possibly understand the feelings of somebody who could never have anything! You can’t understand what it’s like to stupidly keep wishing for something even when you know it’s hopeless! You’ll never –
That’s just how you want him to be, right? Because if you don’t have someone nasty to hate, you won’t know what to do.
Then he punches a window and stalks off.
Kyo still has plenty of demons from his own past to reckon with – his feelings toward his mother was only the first of many.
Mio: Your class is performing Cinderella, right? I’m looking forward to it! But I’m a little upset you’re not playing the Prince, senpai. Cause if we’re talking about the Prince, there’s no one more prince-like than Sohma-senpai! Don’t you think so too, Kuragi-san?
Machi: No, I don’t. I don’t think the President is like a prince at all.
Mio: Huh? Hey! Kuragi-san? Geez! She’s always like that! It’s like she’s looking down on everyone […]. Maybe she thinks saying weird things will get people’s attention. Don’t you hate people like that?
Machi seems to be picking up on Yuki’s own insecurities, maybe even trying to offer support in some strange fashion. She obviously has trouble expressing herself, to put it mildly.
Meanwhile, Kyo finds Tohru waiting in the classroom alone. Everyone else must have left after the script rewrite was finished, but she wanted to tell Kyo about it.
I wonder what she was thinking about while she sat here waiting for me all alone?
Kyo: Fine, you win. I give up. You better not laugh though, got it? Well. What do you say we call it a day? Come on.
Tohru’s too accustomed to playing “happy” to be any good at playing “mean”.
Until next time…
In the beginning, she was just a classmate. Then she was the weird girl who lived in a tent. I invited her to live with us partially because she was in dire straits, but mostly because of some stupid spirit of defiance against the Sohma family and our curse. But something she said got to me.
After my memory gets erased, please become my friend again, okay?
And then Manabe finally makes his presence felt, probing Yuki’s feelings (as they are frankly unusual and complicated, not to mention controversial).
Manabe: A “mother”…A mother figure, huh? I gotta say, that’s, uh, hard to understand. You wanna borrow my mom?
Yuki: I had been longing for that kind of unconditional love, which I’d never known before. That’s why she made me so happy. She listened to all of my gripes without ever showing impatience or boredom. She accepted me for who I am, and didn’t reject me for being a weakling. She made me happy, and made me feel secure. I was looking for a mother. Or at least a mother’s love – and somewhere along the line, I found it in Honda-san.
Manabe: In a girl our age?
Yuki: Yeah…(internally) I don’t know why, but I think I realized it that night. The night Kyo transformed. When she ran after him, she definitely looked like a “woman.” I don’t know why, but that’s how she seemed to me that night. (aloud) […] I was flustered when I first realized that was what I wanted from her. Very much so, actually. Not to mention embarrassed…I didn’t want to admit the truth, so I pretended that I didn’t notice. From the start, I put a lid on those feelings. I told myself I didn’t feel that way. I tried to approach her like any guy interested in an attractive girl. But that didn’t work.
Manabe suggests that maybe Yuki’s exaggerating his feelings a bit – maybe he just wants a “motherly” girlfriend, and he’s falling back on these odd feelings as an excuse to give up on pursuing Tohru romantically.
Manabe: What’s his name, Kyo? Maybe you’re thinking you’re no match for him?
This is along the lines of most fan criticism of this development – that it’s just a lame excuse for Yuki to pull out of the love triangle. But the thing is, like basically all of Takaya-sensei’s “twists”, it actually does make sense. She clearly laid down the groundwork for this throughout the series. And I honestly appreciate it! Yuki still loves and cares about Tohru deeply, he’s just not “in love” with her. It’s good to present non-romantic love not only as legitimate and separate from romance, but as an equally powerful emotion. It’s especially hard for teens to sort out feelings like that, and it can even be dangerous to conflate the two.
Ironically, it’s obvious to the reader that if Yuki really wanted to compete with Kyo for Tohru’s affections, he would “win”. Because the Rat always wins. But it would also destroy all three of them.
Yuki: Whether I’m a match for him, whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong, I couldn’t care less about that stuff. I’m sure there are couples like the ones you mentioned, and that’s fine for them. But I don’t give a crap about that either. The thing is, I wouldn’t like it. In fact, I would hate that. Something like that would just make me lonely.
I want someone too. Not a person I put up on a pedestal, but someone who’s on my level. Someone I need and who needs me back…feeling secure when I go to sleep and being accepted, they’re not enough. I want to give. I want to give something that only I can give. I want to take all of the encouragement, kindness, and warmth you gave to me and set out once more. I don’t want to lose to the darkness. I want to have faith and move forward. This time for sure, I won’t waste what you’ve given to me. I want to find it. My own proof that I’m alive.
Courting Tohru would be the easy way out for him – if it’s really a way out at all. He needs to keep on making new meaningful relationships, otherwise he’s wasting the opportunity he got from Tohru.
Manabe cheers up Yuki by kicking a soccer ball in his face (at least beating up Kakeru seems to cheer him up and stop him from crying). He may not have the best methods, but you can’t doubt Nabe’s sincerity. Yuki finds himself surprisingly refreshed afterwards.
Is it because someone from a totally different world heard me out? Or maybe it’s just that he’s actually a really nice guy.
And he comes back home to find Kyo and Tohru fighting over a script.
Yuki: I don’t wish to interrupt, but do you mind if I enter my own home?
Kyo: H-how long were you standing there…!?
Yuki: You’ll never know.
Now that he’s gotten his feelings toward Tohru sorted out, it seems he’s finally ready to try reconciling with Kyo…but Kyo isn’t quite ready to deal with his own baggage.
Yuki: About that hat…I don’t have to bother giving it back, do I? Honda-san has it now.
Yuki: Maybe he’s touchy about that part of the past…but if he doesn’t get his act together soon it’ll be troublesome.
I want you to be happy. You more than anyone. I hope you find your own proof someday. A place where you can be yourself. Where you can be free…a place where you can sulk and be angry without holding back…I’m sure you’ll get there. And when you do, I’m sure I’ll finally be able to tell you thank you for everything you’ve done.
In other news, Ayame’s going to make costumes for the Cinderella play. And evidently he’s texting buddies with Manabe because of course he is. The play is going to be…interesting, that’s for sure.
Until next time…
Yuki finally hit rock bottom.
Did I hate him, then? Indeed, I believe so. A love like that can grow to be nine-tenths hatred and still call itself love.
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
In order to freely participate in the “Outside” world, Yuki must square with his past trauma.
But first, student council shenanigans!
Okay, so there is actually some more serious goings on in the form of Machi. She claimed she was home sick for a few days after she wrecked the student council office.
Kimi: But Kimi was sure she’d just run away to avoid taking responsibility for trashing the student council office!
Yuki: Kimi, Kimi, Kimi!
Naohito: No, this is an issue that should be addressed! Kuragi, why would you do that!?
Machi: I’m terribly sorry for causing so much trouble. I won’t do it again. I’ll never do it again. I promise.
Yuki: You say you “Won’t do it again”, but doesn’t saying that only put you under more pressure? “I’ll never do it again” doesn’t solve the problem, does it? Both sides need to understand why you do things like that.
He doesn’t get the chance to probe Machi any further (not that she would have really opened up in front of everyone), and he suddenly remembers he has a class discussion to attend to.
The class is supposed to put on a Cinderella play for the annual cultural festival, and Yuki recused himself from the role of Prince Charming (claiming he was too busy with student council and that the role just wouldn’t suit him). This throws the whole casting situation up in the air (the roles are decided by vote), and what lands is guaranteed to be amusing: Yuki’s the fairy godmother, Minami’s the stepmother, Tohru’s the stepsister (because the Yuki fangirls ganged up on her), Kyo is the Prince (because of course he’s the second hottest guy, even if he’s not always charming), and Hana-chan is Cinderella. I assume every girl just voted for herself and Saki won because she got votes from Arisa and Tohru.
But of course Kyo is the only one who’s really unhappy with his part.
Tohru: I think it’s great that you’re playing the Prince. Master-san will be so pleased!
Kyo: Don’t tell him! Don’t you dare tell him!
They have the sense to appeal to Tohru to help resign Kyo to his fate, but as Yuki heads back to student council, Tohru offers him a little encouragement.
Tohru: Um, don’t work too…Please, do your best.
Then Yuki gets himself locked in a dark closet.
This is so lame. If I were really like a prince, I’m sure I wouldn’t get myself locked in a room.
He knocks over a can of black paint (don’t ask me how he can tell that it’s black in the dark), and it forcibly reminds him of Akito – specifically, that conversation we never heard at the summer house.
Akito: Yuki. How pathetic. You, trying to live a positive life…it hurts to watch. It really does. I can tell, though. I know what you want, what you’re looking for in Tohru Honda…
Yuki starts to feel sick, but Machi breaks down the door and saves the day.
Yuki: Machi, thank you.
Machi: I thought maybe you wouldn’t like being helpless and alone.
He extended compassion and understanding to Machi, and now she seems to extend it to him.
Manabe takes Yuki outside, and Yuki admits that it was probably the memories more than the paint fumes that made him sick. Manabe invites him to talk about it, and Yuki actually takes him up on the offer. It might seem strange that Yuki would talk about his past with someone like Manabe who knows absolutely nothing about his situation, but in my experience it’s surprisingly helpful to tell your story to a (relatively) disinterested third party. If nothing else, it forces you to frame your past in a new and sensible manner so that it can be coherent to someone else, and on top of getting a fresh perspective from the other person, it makes you look at the events in a different way.
Yuki: I’ve never told anyone this before. I’ve never even told the person in question…It’s just too pathetic. Pitiful, really.
I was looking for a “mother” in her.
We’ll get an explanation…next time.