Sukitte Ii na yo 05 – Intentions and Acceptance
November 7, 2012 3 Comments
Many of us, be it intentionally or unintentionally have laughed off certain potentially depressing or emotionally damaging situations in the mistaken belief that to take things lightly will mean we wont get hurt. The idea of taking life lightly, while credibly also runs into numerous issues because it is impossible to laugh everything that may happen to you off. In Sukitte Ii ya no we are presented with Yamato, a character who appears to go through life with ease. He has demonstrated a habit of treating everything with a pinch of salt, such as suggesting that the black kitten in this week’s episode will be picked up eventually because it is cute. This fits into his chameleon like appearance and attitude towards social interaction that has already been brought up in a previous episode. The idea behind such an attitude towards social groups is that by getting on with everyone and by simply agreeing with whatever is said he will never be the target of abuse of bullying.
Such a way of thinking is inherently flawed and potentially destructive as it means that you can never truly stand up for those who are in need since to do so would essentially expose you to potential abuse. In this respect Yamato was mirroring Mei’s attitude towards trusting others. However, while Mei simply rejected all human interaction believing that everyone will eventually betray her, Yamato took the opposite route by trying to get on with everyone while opening up to no one. Such an attitude is incredibly damaging especially when it comes to more intimate or close relationships. Yamato claims to have left that attitude behind, but as the series has progressed it is becoming apparent that his way of looking at the world and at social groups hasn’t had the sort of drastic change that he claims it has. During last week’s episode for example the introduction of Hayakawa, easily the most unlikeable character in the entire series demonstrates Yamato’s naivety.
By trying to get along with anyone and everyone Yamato is not making distinctive choices about who it he hangs out with or who he calls a friend. Furthermore, by claiming that he and Hayakawa were friends and agreeing to bring Mei along so that Hayakawa can meet her, Yamato demonstrates his naivety and inability to really understand people’s character. Hayakawa is clearly only after Yamato’s popularity and is willing to do anything in order to hurt him, even going as far as to try and seduce and therefore steal Mei. Yamato’s willingness to freely talk about Mei’s eccentricities while essentially being blind to clearly bored and uninterested Hayakawa perhaps exhibits his inability to truly read the situation. This is perhaps partly due to his past as a self proclaimed chameleon, which may have resulted in Yamato in essence blanking the various intricacies of social interaction. He is therefore blind to certain situations through his own inability and unwillingness to get in the way or stand out from the crowd.
Another clear example of Yamato’s dangerous attitude and willingness to laugh anything off or treat certain situations with a grain of salt comes in the form of Aiko and even Asami. For Aiko he became her reason for existing, her entire weight loss programme, no matter how damaging it may have been to her was solely aimed at Yamato. His kindness to her, no matter how good meaning has other results, and his willingness to even sleep with Aiko in order to ease the pain in her heart can actually be viewed as rather heartless on his part. He clearly cares for her as a friend, but doesn’t look at her in a romantic way; in fact there is really no deeper meaning behind his willingness to be kind to Aiko. He may not be wrong in his attitude towards Aiko since it clearly appeared that the emotional distress at seeing her boyfriend essentially abandon her had become too much, but it is his unthinking attitude that becomes dangerous. By being unconditionally kind to Aiko and even Asami, Yamato becomes their emotional crutch, while simultaneously staying distant from them in her chameleon like attitude towards social interaction.
Through all this we are beginning to see how dangerous and damaging Yamato’s ‘kindness’ can be. He has been kind to Asami and Aiko, and because of his looks and ability to be the centre of attention has forced them into unnatural and potentially physically and emotionally damaging situations. By willingly sleeping with Aiko he has created a misplaced sense of importance, with Aiko going to such extreme lengths to please him regardless of how damaging it can be. He claims that during middle school he was little more than a chameleon, smiling and blending into the surroundings so that he wouldn’t be the target of his classes numerous bullies. This attitude leads to the bullying and eventual disappearance (moved to another school) of his best friend. The whole that he punched in a school wall is symbolic of how empty Yamato was and arguably still is. He may claim that he ‘was’ a chameleon, but judging by his attitude and the way he interacts with others it could be argued that he has never stopped being a chameleon.
Because of his looks he continues to blend into the surroundings by maintaining his position as the centre of attention. The kindness that he has shown Aiko and Asami, while not misplaced is nonetheless damaging and creates misunderstandings about how he views them. In particular, by willingly sleeping with Aiko, Yamato reinforces the notion that he holds in her an important place. By deciding to date Mei, Yamato is therefore dismissing all the hard-work and emotional importance that Aiko has placed on him, and while this simple act is hardly vindictive it is an example of how dangerous kindness can be. Yamato appears to hate himself, and understands how damaging his kindness (or in some respects fake kindness) has been to those who have associated themselves with him.
Such an attitude and inability to truly understand or even gauge why people are acting the way they act is once again brought to the fore in this episode with the introduction of his younger sister. Nagi is a fascinating character that clearly places a lot of importance in her relationship with her brother. Her immediate reaction to the appearance of Mei is actually rather charming, with a clear distrust of anyone who is trying to get close to ‘her’ brother, while simultaneously preparing tea and cake for them without being asked. Her apparent misunderstanding at finding Yamato cuddling Mei is also rather entertaining; with the immediate reaction being entirely opposite of what most might say. However, Yamato’s reaction to her outburst and subsequent telling off of Nagi also helps to demonstrate his inability to notice emotional subtleties even in his own sister’s behaviour. As we quickly find out with Yamato out of the picture, Nagi hasn’t been going to school for months after suffering from similar issues to those that Mei had to deal with when she was Nagi’s age.
Children who she thought were her friends simply used Nagi because she had a big house where they could play games and provided good drink and cookies or cake. At no point do you get the impression that they were truly her friends, and it is quite clear that they were simply using her for their own personal gain. It would be easy to point the finger and blame Nagi’s own stupidity for freely and willingly allowing this to happen, however it also seems clear that Nagi is a fundamentally lonely individual. In a similar way to Asami and Aiko, Nagi wants to be accepted and to become part of a social group. In order for this to happen she willingly brings home ‘friends’ from school and provides drinks and food. But this is an empty friendship, with Nagi constantly left out of their circle, and eventually dropped when she won’t bring them home one day. The shock at hearing her supposed friends dismissing all her hard work as a waste of time, and essentially saying that she was only good because she made good cookies is clearly devastating.
In a similar way to Mei, Nagi closes herself off from others, both emotionally and then physically by coming up with numerous excuses to stay away from school. In this context we can now see why Nagi was clearly shocked and worried at the appearance of an unknown girl who she must view as potentially devastating to her relationship with Yamato. But once again Mei demonstrates her emotional strength and ability to understand others no matter how popular they may be. She understand the pain that Nagi has gone through, but tells her that simply shutting herself off from society will not change anything. Mei might still have issues with freely trusting others, and it seems unlikely that she will ever be able to be like Yamato when it comes to getting on with everyone, but she is making an effort. As you points out to Nagi, there are always going to be people who try and use you, but it is important that you do not let such people dictate how you approach life.
By coming to terms with your problems and moving on from there Mei shows Nagi that it is possible to make friends, those who truly care for you and understand what is important. She also helps to illustrate the importance of making your own decisions and freely change yourself rather than waiting for someone else to do it for you. While her meeting with Yamato may have had an impact upon Mei, it is through her own hard work and her own decisions that changes are made. As she explains to Nagi, nothing will ever happen if you shut yourself off from society, instead you need to make a conscious effort and to do things for yourself. That Yamato seemed incapable of noticing the distress in Nagi’s voice; along with not understanding why she had stopped going to school also helps to reinforce how damaging his attitude can be. Throughout this series it has not been Yamato, but Mei who has helped others, and while her relationship with him may have had a significant impact upon her view of the world, it is ultimately Mei’s own hardwork and effort that has changed things for the better.