Sasameki Koto – 1

SumikaSurprise

Much of the time I think about love, the topic of courtship inevitably pops up. “How do I make my feelings known to this person I like, and how do I get that person to like me in return?” If you think about it, it takes an uncommonly brave person — or a normal person caught up in an uncommonly brave moment — to confess one’s feelings to another person without knowing what that person feels for oneself. Even just going up to a person in a bar or whatever takes a solid pair of balls; people live and die by their confidence in that kind of situation. Throwing out one’s feelings goes against one of the most primal instincts of any creature: The need to avoid pain.

In my experience, there is a tendency to vastly overthink the situation and complicate the hell out of it. “Is it worth it to speak up? What if she doesn’t feel the same way? What if I make it really awkward? What if . . . she says yes?” It is stupid, and it is kind of pathetic, but it happens anyway, almost unconsciously. I find myself wishing for some objective formula that can calculate whether I should grow a pair and make a move. But there is not, of course. One either does something, or one does not, and if a person cannot grow the thick skin needed to go for it, then he or she is f’ed.

I bring this up because Sasameki Koto‘s first episode — and basically any piece of fiction with a gay or lesbian character(s) dealing with this type of situation — always makes me think of this most basic of dilemmas from another perspective. We have two female characters who are attracted to other women: Ushio Kazama, who likes “cute girls”, and Sumika Murasame, who likes Kazama. (I really like the way the opening scene quickly establishes their relationship in a simple, visual way. Even if a person went into Sasameki Koto completely cold, it would be apparent that Sumika has the hots for Kazama.) Kazama is the type to throw caution into the wind, at least around her friends. She has no qualms with admitting her preference for women, and she has made several confessions in the past, although apparently with a 0 percent success rate. Sumika, meanwhile, is stuck firmly in the “friend zone” and has a tough time, to say the least, with making her feelings known, because she does not believe that Kazama would look at her in that way for even a second.

KazamaSenpai

Confessing is tricky (and Oh So Serious) business. I tend to root for any likable character to find love, because I am a hopeless romantic, but I find myself rooting especially hard for gay and lesbian characters to find that special someone. This is because, and I hope this does not come off as ignorant or patronizing or anything, it seems to me that they have the deck stacked against them more so than most people. There is always a guessing game involved with confession, where one tries one’s best to interpret cues that may hint at attraction or may just be random happenstance, but I have no idea what the hell I would do if the wrinkle of not even knowing whether women I approached were attracted to men always entered my mind.

This is just supposition on my part, but I would bet most heterosexual men (and probably heterosexual women, too) take it for granted that when they approach members of the opposite sex, that person will also be attracted to members of their opposite sex. I know I do. Heterosexuals are the majority by a good distance (although the exact percentage is always in dispute for various reasons), so I think it is only natural for a heterosexual person to make this assumption. But what if that assumption were to disappear? What if you could not go anywhere and be reasonably sure that if you saw a good looking woman (or the reverse for women), that it is more than likely that person is into men (or women)? In the act of confessing love — of opening up oneself to another person, whether a good friend or a total stranger — another layer of complexity can mean all the difference.

In a world where, among the best case scenarios, an incorrect assumption can lead to an awkward moment (not too different for heterosexuals, gays or lesbians), and in the worst case scenario, outright hatred (uh, pretty different, to say the least), just thinking about facing that added obstacle scares the hell out of me. The act of “coming out” is usually portrayed as being quite difficult, because it is difficult. It is tough to know how people truly feel on the inside. Will one’s friends and family be accepting? Will they reject the person who comes out as gay or lesbian? If I see a gay or lesbian character coming out, I can usually sense the difficulty of that decision, but to actually think about it and put myself in those shoes . . . it is fucking frightening. It is something that can potentially radically alter the feelings of those one is closest to. Being true to oneself is always important, but achieving this at the potential cost of so much . . . it makes my stomach twist into knots.

Baring one’s feelings without giving a damn about the pain one could possibly receive in return from that person is a brave act, to me. But caring about someone so much that one is willing to endure the scorn of many to go with one’s heart and try something that may (but is not guaranteed to) lead to complete happiness? That is on another level. Now, I don’t think Sasameki Koto‘s first episode really captures that feeling any better or worse than other stories. This is just something I think about every so often.

SumikaKazamaKiyori

A couple of other quick points of interest I want to hit before this post ventures into tl;dr territory: A few posts (and comments within those posts) have mentioned the “shallowness” of this episode. And I do not disagree with that, actually. However, and I might be reading too much into this, I believe that is part of the episode’s point. Kazama’s crushes are based on a shallow point — she likes cute girls. That is the one qualifier she throws out. And Sumika rightly — though bluntly, and not without some jealousy — points out that this tends to ensure Kazama will have her heart broken, since she feels things pretty passionately. This shallowness is something a lot of people have to work to get past, though. Isn’t physical attraction the first qualifier for many people, even those who look for serious relationships? Judging purely on that sense of attraction is just something Kazama will have to work through.

That said, I certainly cannot fault people for thinking it is a bit forced and clumsy.

Last point: I think Kazama and Sumika’s friend, Kiyori, is interesting in how she reacts upon learning that Kazama is a lesbian. She is struck by how suddenly she learns this information, but she is also completely confused because it is something entirely outside her experience. It reminds me a bit of a time in elementary school when a friend of mine mentioned gay guys. The very idea that a man could like another man beyond being friends was completely foreign to me. (It probably did not help that I was still in the “OMG GIRLS ARE YUCKY THEY HAVE COOTIES” stage.) I don’t think Kiyori hates the idea of Kazama being a lesbian; it just flies in the face of everything that is “normal” for her. When Kazama runs away after Sumika tries to dissuade Kazama from going after her senpai, Kiyori makes a silly attempt to help Kazama feel better by encouraging her to date a guy or two. I don’t think she is trying to “turn” Kazama into a heterosexual so much as she is trying to reconcile something incomprehensible in her mind. The possibility of girls liking other girls has probably never crossed her mind before that moment.

KazamaSumikaWalking

A solid first episode. Bit surprising, too, because I had heard Sasameki Koto trended slightly more toward humor, though I have read that will become more apparent in upcoming episodes.

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2 Responses to “Sasameki Koto – 1”

  1. metalsonic700 Says:

    Very nice post about what is easily my favorite show of the season. People were calling this shallow? Fuck those people. This is nothing but a huge explosion of complexity! Those people have never been in love.

    In my last year of high school, I fell in love with this girl from my art class who was a grade below me. We talked a lot, but never talked so much that we would get friendzoned. I think this girl honestly liked me – we were always pretty awkward talking to each-other and she acted just as odd as I did, as if reflecting my behavior.

    This girl was everything I could have wanted out of a girl. Short, cute, Asian, VERY smart, she liked anime a lot and had a very open mind, but also wasn’t loud or annoying. She was definitely the quietest yaoi fan of all time XD She was studying to become a forensic scientist and in spite of being a very normal person, she had a very morbid sense of humor that I couldn’t get enough of. I could say anything to her, no matter how shocking, and she could bounce it right back to me without batting an eye. We even came up with awesome zombie movie concepts together.

    As the end of the year approached, I waned to confess to her SO badly. I made every excuse not to – how could it work out when she’d still be in high school and I wouldn’t? Not to mention she’s underage and I won’t be long? It wasn’t that I didn’t think she was interested, but I was just so scared that things wouldn’t work out – or even if they did, that I wouldn’t be good enough for her and she would eventually learn to hate me.

    I never confessed. I have even still thought that I should find some way to get it off my chest – to tell her over myspace or something just that I had liked her so much, but it never happened. I haven’t talked to her since school ended in June, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow the balls to do so.

  2. […] to jump ladders from friendship to lover – something that is expounded on at length over at Unmei Kaihen (love the Escaflowne reference though the slogan is not actually a positive demonstration of the […]

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