Sukitte Ii na yo 02 – Friendship and insecurities
October 19, 2012 2 Comments
The first episode of Sukitte Ii ya no demonstrated the importance of social contacts and a social group by showing what could happen when you become so alone and those who you have relied upon and suddenly not there. This doesn’t mean that people have to be incredibly popular, but it is the creation of even the smallest of social groups and contacts that can help you move forward with your life instead of staying in the past. Mei has slowly begun to realise this, and her problem with the stalker demonstrated that by deliberately alienating herself from society she became an easy target for such people. At the same time, her experiences with betrayal have left a strong impression on her, made even stronger since it happened when she was much younger. While her attitude that everyone is willing to betray their friends at a moments notice may be incorrect, her ideas that there are those who will happily drop you when the situation calls for it remains perfectly accurate.
This episode helped to demonstrate that, while Mei may have been a self-imposed loner who didn’t trust anyone, and arguably still has difficulty trusting those around her, she is not alone. Even those who apparently sociable and put in a lot of effort to please those around her suffer from the same issues and pain that Mei has gone through. Her problems are not unique, and in some respects she has been safe from specific issues due to her almost hermit-like existence. Asami in particular suffers from similar problems to Mei, and is someone who has to deal with the constant social pressures of maintaining her image while also dealing with the abuse of those who are jealous of her looks. While Mei feels that people will just betray her, Asami desperately wants to belong to a group, and fears what might happen if she were ever abandoned. This is made worse by the complex that she has about her large breasts, something that clearly started during junior high and has only increased as she has grown and her body has changed.
To Asami she is only a pair of breasts in the eyes of the vast majority of people, while many girls may be jealous of her, the boys just stare at her chest and don’t see her for who she is. Her fear is that no one sees her as Asami, all they see are her breasts, and they don’t see her as a distinctive individual with a personality and proper feelings. She comes across as a nice if slightly ditzy character, which itself is a value judgement based upon her looks and the way she acts. She clings onto Yamato because he was the first person who ever stood up for her and saw her as more than just a pair of large breasts. To Asami, Yamato is something of a saviour, and while she loves him she also knows that he doesn’t love her, only seeing her as a friend. There is also an inherent strength in Asami’s character, with her ability to simply ignore and move on from the verbal abuse that she appears to receive on a daily basis. But while this may be a form of strength it is also a form of weakness – by ignoring these comments and allowing the bullies to continue, Asami portrays herself as a weak willed person who will take any abuse no matter how horrible.
She freely admits to Mei that she doesn’t like the abuse, something that is plainly obvious when we see her facial expressions. However, it is clear that Asami fears what would happen if she ever fought back. The social group that she is able to be a part of thanks to Yamato is immensely important to her current state of being, and without it she fears a return to her life in junior high. She may continue to be subjected to the same kind of abuse and leers from before, but the social group that she is a part of provides a sense of security and belonging that allows her to partly ignore it. We do however see that the constant abuse, along with her inherent worries that no one sees her for who she truly is has clearly had a significant and potentially lasting effect on her own self esteem and sense of belonging. When Kenji attempts to stand up for Asami we see how much her own complex has affected her – Kenji is pretty stupid and shows his ignorance when his argument involves her large breasts. For his part Kenji seems to believe that he is doing the right thing, partly because he is in love with Asami, along with openly saying he likes large breasts.
The problem is that he only further enhances her complex and worries about who she is and what she looks like. He claims that he loves her, but he is only thinking of what he likes rather than thinking of Asami’s feelings. Mei points out that you cant always just do what you want to and that there will be consequences if you don’t take into account the other person’s feelings. This holds true of Yamato as well, a character who is incredibly sociable, while also remaining increasingly mysterious and distant, as if there is an invisible wall between him and the rest of the world. Asami points out that he has kissed most of the girls in the school, at least that is the rumour, and importantly he is willing to be nice to and socialise with anyone if the ask him. In this respect kissing and general socialising seem to hold little meaning for Yamato, as if they are things that can be thrown away and easily replaced. His kiss with Mei, while arguably necessary to make the stalker go away had a significant effect on her, while appearing inconsequential for him.
To Mei, a person who has essentially been living as a social hermit and a mute for years after her friends betrayed her isn’t used to this sort of social interaction. The kiss can therefore have a more significant meaning to her than to Yamato; when you put this together with his sudden and intense interest in her creates a curious situation for Mei. She continues to worry about the willingness, as she sees it, of people to betray their friends when the situation calls for it, while also wanting to interact with others more. The kiss in some respects holds more meaning for Mei due to its sudden nature and her past experiences, although this hardly means that girls inherently hold more meaning in kisses than boys. Her anger comes from the knowledge that Yamato seems willing to kiss anyone who he considers cute, regardless of their feelings or situation. In this respect Yamato is a very distant character, one that does things because he wants to without thinking about the consequences of feelings that those around him have.
Mei is angry because he continues to kiss her without any meaning of feelings behind his actions, like he is simply playing with Mei as if she were a toy for his amusement. His confession, while largely sincere also suggests that he is holding something back from Mei and everyone else. Yamato is a fundamentally mysterious character, he is almost too sociable and willing to kiss and generally socialise with anyone, while continuing to maintain a distinct distance between his feelings and his actions. His fascination with Mei may come from their original meeting and the knowledge that she is someone who wont simply fawn all over him like every other girl at school. In this respect it could be argued that Yamato has certain similar qualities to Asami, and that everyone only sees him as a handsome high school student rather than for whom he truly is. What is particularly interesting about Mei as well is her strength and resolve to change her attitude towards others, although she clearly still retains her view that people aren’t entirely trustworthy. Yamato and his insistence that they go to karaoke may constantly drag her around, but for her part Mei is changing and making an effort to become a more sociable person.
Mei is also a character who fights her own battles, and instead of waiting for her prince on a white horse to sweep her off her feet she continues to push forward regardless of the obstacles. By becoming Asami’s friend and even standing up for her when she overhears the bullying Mei demonstrates her abilities as an individual. Furthermore, instead of telling on them to Yamato when he asks what happens, Mei lies, showing that she would rather do things herself rather than rely on others. She may have fallen in love with Yamato, but Mei continues to maintain her own distinct personality rather than becoming one of the hangers on who continually try to catch his eye. Her jealous attitude coupled with her strong will mark her out from the crowd and differentiate her from Asai, who, despite being very beautiful is as nasty as those who bully Asami. What has been clearly demonstrated in this episode is that everyone has their own issues, and while Mei still cant quite bring herself to fully trust others she appears to have acknowledged that her situation is not unique.