Kare Kano – 12-13
Haha, my weekly schedule for watching Kare Kano is working nicely so far to separate each part into clear arcs! This week, the focus is on Tsubasa, who is dealing with family issues and her own intense sense of loneliness.
After a bit more than two-and-a-half minutes of recap (oh, Kare Kano), ep12 kicks off with Tsubasa and Maho spending the evening at Miyazawa’s house. Tsubaki gets a call from Miyazawa and drops by to lay down the law, because she is used to Tsubasa acting out. It’s absolutely hilarious to see two crazy, forceful personalities go at each other, both getting a victory in some way: Tsubasa stays at Miyazawa’s home for the time being, but Tsubaki has called Tsubasa’s father over to talk some sense into her. Then Tsubaki has a heart-to-heart talk with Miyazawa and lays out why she can understand why Tsubasa acts the way she does.
I can understand, as well. Tsubasa is selfish. But it is not the type of selfishness born from an inability to empathize with other people. Tsubasa is selfish because she is afraid. She grew up without a mother and with a father who, though he loves her very much, has a difficult time balancing his duties as a caretaker and as a parent. So while Tsubasa gets plenty of love from her father, she bounces around from sitter to sitter and never really has an opportunity to make a meaningful connection with anyone else, and she grows up largely alone. That is a scary thing. Even as someone who had a tough time making friends early in my life, I at least had a couple of people who had my back. When Tsubaki first meets Tsubasa in kindergarten, she describes Tsubasa as someone who would just, “. . . crouch in the corner, not talking or making friends.” Tsubasa grows up with almost nothing, so when she forms a connection with someone, she clings to that connection as hard as she can. She literally clings to Miyazawa when she and Miyazawa become friends!
Miyazawa can also understand how Tsubasa operates, because she sees much of the same thing in Arima, at least as far as the complex toward one’s family goes. It is a poignant moment when Miyazawa realizes exactly why Arima made such a connection with Tsubasa when he would barely get close with anyone else before he met Miyazawa. They both have such tricky relationships with their families. Tsubasa loves her father, but it is to the point of shutting everyone out who would dare get close to him. She treats Arima much the same way, actually. Tsubasa says she has a crush on Arima, but, deep down, I think she sees him as a brother, too. He is there to support her, be a pillar of strength and is just someone for her to admire. And when Miyazawa gets “too close” to Arima, Tsubasa flips her shit. All she has is that tenuous familial relationship. If some outsider takes that from her, then what does she have left? Nothing. So she guards it fiercely.
Arima does not have quite that problem, but he knows what it is like to want the closeness that other people have and fall just short of it. The scenes of Arima’s family so far have displayed that in spades. Arima’s aunt and uncle are kind and cordial to Arima, but there is a way they approach him that is just . . . cold and distant. It is not for a lack of love; rather, it is more like they do not completely know how best to raise this boy who is good at so many things but who must also bear so much pain from being shunned by his entire family. In ep7, Arima’s aunt and uncle say they love Arima and trust him to act on his own but wait for the day when he can come to them for help. Maybe they do not know how to approach Arima, or maybe they just want him to make that choice on his own. But, still, there is a distance there that pains Arima and allows him to empathize with Tsubasa’s situation.
Tsubaki mentions that there is a void in Tsubasa’s heart that she has desperately been trying to fill her entire life. This void is on full display while Tsubasa stays at Miyazawa’s home. In another of those exceedingly strange scenes that parallels the way Miyazawa’s family relates to other characters in the series, Miyazawa, her family and Maho play an extended game of Uno while Tsubasa lays curled up, alone, in a dark room. That is such a short, sad scene. While Tsubasa is friends with Miyazawa, she isn’t as close to her as Arima is, so she cannot understand why he could be drawn to the side of Miyazawa that has a loving family, when it is so painful for her to be around a group that has what she does not. (Personally, I think by this time Arima is so close to Miyazawa that he feels like her family is his family as well. They welcomed him so much that he feels like he is slowly becoming one of them.)
It is clear by this time that the void in Tsubasa’s heart is more a family-related issue than something to do with love. She tries to use Arima, Miyazawa and other friends to fill the missing gaps in her life, but she just cannot do it. Tsubasa does not know what is missing, because she has never really felt it before in her life. All she knows is the family as a pair rather than a unit, and while that type of family can most definitely function, it is a difficult circumstance in which to grow up. Tsubasa’s father arrives and tries to reason with her, but it is a lost cause at this moment. His reasons make sense, of course: He has fallen in love with the nurse, Ikeda, who took care of Tsubasa while she was in the hospital, and her presence would make life easier for everyone. Tsubasa would have a mother to bond with, and her father would have a good deal less stress with to deal with in his everyday life.
But all Tsubasa can see is an interloper who is trying to steal her father from her. She digs her heels in and stubbornly argues that her life is fine just the way it is, and there is no need for things to change now. This is another really sad scene. The fear of losing one of the few relationships that means anything — and probably the relationship that means most to her — keeps Tsubasa from going forward with something that might make her happy. She sees that her father loves this person, and she still says no, throwing out the excuses that the woman is just faking to score points with her dad, and that she is a gold digger (well, she doesn’t say it quite like that, but come on). More tension builds, including a sharp moment when Tsubasa’s dad strikes her, and then Tsubasa’s dad lays it all out for her to digest: He is just human and wants the best for his family. When Tsubasa went to the hospital, all the potential possibilities frightened him. He needed someone not just to support Tsubasa, but to support himself as well.
The end of this episode gives me a strange feeling, though. Tsubasa seems to be giving in more than accepting when she decides not to fight her father pursuing a relationship with this woman, which I suppose is a more realistic reaction. But it is painful to watch. It is probably the tiniest and most unimportant she has felt in her life. Whether right or wrong, Tsubasa believes what is happening is against her wishes and gives up merely because she does not believe her will is enough to change things.
. . . Which is why I am glad this episode comes along and completely changes Tsubasa’s outlook on things, when she finally relents and joins her father for a dinner with the Ikeda family. The dinner itself is uproariously funny. Neither Tsubasa nor Kazuma, Ikeda’s son, turns out to be what the other expects. Tsubasa is suspicious of Kazuma’s “punk rocker” looks, and Kazuma is pleased as punch to have a younger sister . . . who turns out to be a month older than he is. Oops! (Tsubasa’s reaction to this is wonderful and caused a friend and myself to simultaneously joke that Tsubasa caused the Second Impact.) Later, Kazuma and Tsubasa run into each other on the street and have a nice chat, which is good because the whole “mistaking Tsubasa for a little kid” thing really made things awkward.
This scene is just so . . . sweet and pure. Kazuma just says he wants a sibling. That is all. Tsubasa immediately understands the feeling: He is lonely. Without knowing it, Kazuma makes an immediate connection with Tsubasa. She has a void in her heart, and he can fill it simply by being a brother she can see and rely upon every day, and vice versa. I can understand the feeling. Personally, I have no clue how I would have turned out if I did not have my brother and sister with me every day. Again, as someone who had a tough time really getting to know people, they were invaluable to me just being there at home, every day, ready to talk about and do anything. I was a lonely guy but never truly lonely because my family was always there to support me and pick me up. Now Kazuma and Tsubasa both have that person.
I don’t know that I have anything particularly deep to say about this episode. It just makes my heart smile to see Tsubasa slowly come out of her shell and not just accept the idea of having a family unit but truly embrace it. She loves the idea because she can really look into her heart and know how lonely it is to come home and have nobody to greet you or love you. An empty house is a terribly lonely place — that is the void of Tsubasa’s heart, that lonely home without a family. But to have someone with you who really understands you because he or she has gone through the same experiences . . . that is part of what makes a family. Tsubasa and Kazuma are already like brother and sister, as they say, because they understand each other’s loneliness.
The rest of the episode is a bunch of hilarious, happy fun. Ikeda comes home and freaks out not just because Tsubasa is over at her place but also because the apartment is a freaking mess. Yeah, that definitely strikes a chord with me. I’m kind of a slob, and my mom was the type to really crack the whip on cleaning when people would come over, haha. She never put me in the Camel Clutch, though. Well done by Ikeda. And the moment where the Shibahimes and the Ikedas come together as a true family at the end . . . ah. I am such a sucker for good family moments.