Kare Kano – 4-5
The next two episodes of Kare Kano do not have quite as much pure energy as the first three, but I think that is a deliberate decision on the part of the creators.
Ep4 concerns Miyazawa’s nervousness regarding moving forward in her relationship with Arima. She realizes she has not made it clear, in words, that she loves Arima, while Arima has told Miyazawa several times that he loves her. There is this pressure on Miyazawa to make her feelings known to Arima in a way he can truly feel, body and soul. This is where that lack of energy comes in — it’s not so much a lack of energy, actually, as it is Miyazawa being completely flustered around Arima, and her natural spirit being crammed down a bit. Miyazawa cannot think; she cannot form the words she wants to truly express how much she cares for Arima.
It is tough for Miyazawa because this is something quite foreign to her. She admits it is the first time she has felt something this strong for another person. Because Miyazawa threw herself completely into her charade to get the most admiration from her peers as possible, while maintaining a divide between herself and everyone else, Miyazawa never let anyone get near her, and thus never had the opportunity to form a connection with anyone. Miyazawa has barely had friends, much less anyone with whom she could share an emotional connection as deep as love. All Miyazawa can do is grope around like a child and try to find the right way to let Arima know she loves him.
There is a scene where Miyazawa wishes desperately that Arima could just see how hard she is trying to capture his attention. “I blush and stutter like an idiot,” she says, “the least he could do is notice.” In a bit right after that could be real or imagined — it does not particularly matter either way — Miyazawa kicks Arima in the ass, shouts “Notice!” and then runs away like a little kid. Her behavior all throughout the episode is strikingly childlike, actually. Miyazawa is book smart and able to penetrate Arima’s emotions because she senses he is similar to her, but when it comes to interpreting and expressing her own feelings, Miyazawa is a disaster because she did not build herself to engage in self-reflection. It seems so simple to her, and yet in practice it is not. Baring one’s soul to another is rarely easy.
Because Miyazawa does not know how to deal with this sudden swell of feelings, she nearly makes a crucial error — she believes words are the only way to express oneself, and since she cannot directly tell Arima how she feels, he will eventually close himself off to her love. The characters in Kare Kano are so full of life and desire, and their monologues — both internal and external — so spectacular that it can be easy to forget that the simplest gestures are often the most effective. Miyazawa makes her love for Arima apparent because she bravely takes the plunge and shows Arima that she loves him simply by grasping his hand. A show of solidarity. It works. Their hands clasped around one another is an indelible image that will not leave my mind for quite some time, just like the intensity of Miyazawa’s blush as ep3 fades out.
But what fear Miyazawa has when she believes her hesitation has cost her Arima’s love! I would not be surprised to learn that the above scene inspired a similar sequence in SHAFT’s ef – a tale of memories. The composition fits perfectly and illustrates Miyazawa’s problem with true strength. Words flying all around, threatening to bury her in feelings she cannot articulate for herself. The most striking of these is the fear that Arima may no longer love her. Miyazawa lays out all her troubles, fears and anxieties to bare in a few short seconds as they cascade about in her mind. All these words cause that one fear — losing Arima — to rise up and threaten to swallow Miyazawa whole. This, I believe, is part of what leads Miyazawa to throw caution into the wind and show her love to Arima. After all, who among us could deal with these constant fears without trying to do something about them?
Ep5 deals mainly with a practical problem in relationships: Finding time for one another even when life seems to constantly get in the way. Miyazawa and Arima are so involved in school, and in planning the upcoming sports festival, that they barely have time for one another. The pressure builds in Arima so much that he lashes out in anger when two guys try to pull him away from Miyazawa for more work — it’s a funny moment in a dark sort of way, but it also shows a slight hint of the darkness lurking just under the surface Arima projects. But his time with Miyazawa gives Arima pleasant respite. Their initial conversation may seem awkward — neither really knows what to say — but it is more a case of their relationship growing to the point where they do not need to speak to enjoy their time together. Miyazawa and Arima can simply enjoy silence as time passes on, and the two of them are together.
One of my favorite characters in Kare Kano, Hideaki, makes his first appearance in this episode. His story is worked through maybe a tad too quickly. He goes from a shady womanizer who is jealous of Miyazawa to someone who can understand her almost in the blink of an eye. But there is no denying the crazy electricity he has right from the start. Hideaki loves women — absolutely adores them — and his stated goal is to surround himself with as many women as possible. His dream is a young high school kid’s fantasy gone completely bonkers. The only people with dreams like those are the people who don’t really know women at all (or people, for that matter). His plan would have him cast exactly as Miyazawa casts herself at the beginning of the series: Someone to be admired but at the same time held at arm’s length from his admirers.
But it’s tough to feel much scorn for him because, like Miyazawa, he is like a child trying to be an adult. Miyazawa and Hideaki’s brief rivalry inspires a series of hilarious segments where Miyazawa brings her home persona to school. She lets everything hang out, and she does not give a damn if anyone sees her. Why? Because she is not going to back down from that bastard Hideaki. And, like someone still growing up, Miyazawa displays how fragile one’s feelings can be. When Hideaki suggests that Arima could not possibly love someone like Miyazawa who constantly fools people into believing she is something she is not, the barb buries itself in her heart. Logically, the comment should not get to her — Arima has proved time and again that he loves her for who she is, and that feeling will not change no matter what. However, that tiny sliver of fear cuts through her defenses because her heart has not toughened to the point where she can withstand such attacks against herself.
Perhaps this is why Miyazawa and Hideaki’s rivalry is so brief. When Hideaki sees Miyazawa wallowing in fear in front of the movie theater, almost certain that Arima has abandoned her, he is legitimately saddened by the ferocity of her sadness. He reacts like kid, too, offering Miyazawa only a handkerchief to wipe her tears away after stumbling through the embarrassment of her emotional assault. Hideaki claims he is throwing in the towel because it is a battle he cannot win, but his admission that he sort of likes Miyazawa is the deeper reason, I believe. He sees a bit of himself in her, and also sees that she is trying to turn things around (and that she really has captured Arima’s heart), so perhaps he figures that he should try and turn things around for himself as well.
But it won’t stop him from being friggin’ hilarious in later episodes.