Sukitte Ii na yo 10 – Lies and Misunderstandings
December 13, 2012 Leave a comment
The introduction of Kai would always bring with it another set of problems, specifically for Yamato, but his characters also helped to demonstrate the uneasy relationship that Yamato has with Mei. Up until this point Yamato has demonstrated how shallow he can be, and how damaging his willingness to help anyone and everyone has been to his relationship with Mei. The appearance of Megumi prompts Mei to question her position with Yamato, almost convincing herself that she never had any business falling in love with Yamato in the first place. For his part, Yamato is portrayed to be as naïve and new to love as Mei; his willingness to help others, along with his general attitude further exacerbates an already tense situation. As Mei and Yamato grow further apart, kicking themselves about what they did or didn’t do, what they said or wanted to say, we began to see how alike these two characters are. Mei and Yamato initially appear as polar opposites with Yamato’s popularity portrayed in stark contrast to the almost invisible nature of Mei. Partly because of this Mei continued to back herself into a corner, blaming herself for allowing Yamato to model and get close to Megumi. It is an uneasy relationship because Mei’s overly cautious and arguably introverted nature, coupled with Yamato’s ineptitude and inability to understand the consequences of his actions have gradually been building up and gaining ever more power and influence. They clearly love each other, but because of these problems they continue to bump into other issues that potentially hurt their relationship.
The presence of Kai is a classic example of how important friends are, while also demonstrating the danger that jealousy and the wish to monopolise someone can bring. Interestingly for a Shoujo romance Kai is very straightforward about his current feelings for Mei, confronting Yamato and simply telling him. By being out in the open we see how much of an effect this has on Yamato as we watch him become increasingly jealous and angry, however, rather than let it all out in the open like Kai he keeps it bottled up inside. This is another facet of Yamato’s dangerous personality, with his outer appearance hiding a veritable bubbling cauldron of repressed feelings and emotions. By keeping everything locked up and not telling anyone, we see how immature Yamato is, while also beginning to understand how much of an impact his middle school environment has had on him. It is highly unlikely that Yamato was always like this, but because of the constant bullying and the generally negative atmosphere that his middle school apparently had Yamato arguably changed. His chameleon like appearance and ability to move almost unnoticed in numerous social circles has become an immensely important asset, allowing him to get through life without any real worries. At the same time it is also a sign of immaturity and potentially very dangerous, with Yamato never truly saying what is on his mind, and instead of talking to Mei in a normal manner keeps everything bottled up until he eventually explodes.
Mei is a fascinating character and one who has helped numerous other characters in the series with their own specific problems, but she is not a mind reader or psychic. Yamato is obviously mad at her, but by avoiding Mei or simply blanking her we are seeing this immature side of his character hurting the girl he loves. Mei understands that he is angry but cannot work out why, even questioning her own actions and wondering if she did anything wrong. In some respects Mei and Yamato are in a similar position but coming at it from opposite directions. Neither of them are particularly versed in proper social interaction, with both characters finding it difficult to express their true feelings and desires to others. However, Yamato is socially naïve partly because of his chameleon like nature and willingness to help others, thus resulting in him never truly interacting with anyone or caring for them in the way he cares for Mei. Mei on the other hand has had to deal with bullying which resulted in her effectively living the life of a social hermit, never talking to or interacting with anyone and instead believing that she will just be betrayed by anyone whom she tries to befriend. However, Mei has changed over the course of the series, growing stronger and far more assertive, she now has good friends and people whom she feels she can rely upon.
Her willingness to make friends and generally move on with her life does however bring her into conflict with Megumi due to her relationship with Yamato. Because of her childhood Mei has never really dealt with these sorts of situations, and because of her socially awkward, but also sincere nature she is ultimately used by Megumi for her own ends. By willingly talking to Kai and treating him as a friend Mei provides Megumi with the right tools to create a rift between Mei and Yamato. Mei isn’t doing anything wrong, in fact by talking to Kai she is simply demonstrating how far she has progressed and shows her willingness to interact with others. Megumi naturally uses the situation and we see her spreading rumours about Mei’s relationship with Kai and even attempting to make Yamato angry enough to dump her. As a character Megumi is both complex, while also remaining incredibly shallow in her attitude towards peoples appearance. Despite the knock that Yamato gave to her confidence in recent episodes she remains confident about her appearance and ability to interact with others. Through a brief flashback we are shown Megumi being bullied and called ugly at a young age, while also apparently being left alone by her parents.
Every character in this series seems to have some sort of emotional or psychological pain in their past, but in Megumi’s case she has used it as a form of strength and attempted to rise above those memories. Unfortunately in the process she has become a shallow and arguably spiteful person, happily lying about liking theme parks and then calming throwing away presents from her fans. Furthermore the majority of the misunderstandings in this episode between Yamato and Mei were used and engineered by Megumi. We have already seen attempts by Megumi to poach Mei’s friends and alienate her, this driving her further into a corner with the suggestion that in doing so she would be alienated and eventually abandoned by everyone that she has grown to hold dear. Such a tactic is both shallow and spiteful, although it appears that while Asami is largely oblivious to this (possibly owing to her slightly naïve, but also good natured character), Aiko has cottoned on to Megumi’s plan.
While Megumi is largely working from within the shadows we continue to see Yamato and Mei drift apart, with Yamato choosing to ignore Mei rather than confront her and his own feelings of doubt head on. This sudden change in his attitude coupled with Megumi’s partly successful attempts to alienate her has a tremendous impact on how Mei views the world. That she is now scared of being left alone and abandoned by her friends further reinforces how far she has come since the beginning of the series. Kei is therefore integral to her emotional wellbeing, and although he further feeds the rumors about Mei cheating on Yamato, he remains important to their relationship and friendship. When watching Kei and Mei interact we aren’t seeing two people in love but two close friends who help each other through tough times and act as emotional supports. In many respects their interactions are far more natural than Yamato and Mei, with Kai helping Mei get through her own problems, and even chastising her about her willingness to help others while also forgetting about her own wellbeing. Kai helps to give Mei the strength to confront Yamato and push their relationship forward; unfortunately the problems with Yamato’s personality remain. By believing the rumours that Megumi has evidently been circulating about Kai and Mei, Yamato once again shows how shallow and arguably naïve he can be.
It should be obvious that instead of dwelling on the issue he should simply confront Mei and ask her what is going on, or better still, believing that Mei loves him rather than assume she is somehow cheating. His desire to monopolise Mei, coupled with the ease with which Megumi’s rumours affects his ability to rationalise suggest that he is easily manipulated. He may be in love with Mei but that doesn’t give him the right to monopolise her and forbid anyone else from approaching her and interacting with her. Mei’s willingness to interact with Kai as a close friend goes against Yamato’s attitude thus causing the conflict. But in this respect Yamato is completely wrong, he may love her, but as Kai points out she has other friends and Yamato might want to take a step back and reassess the situation. Furthermore, this scene demonstrates how dangerous it is to keep everything bottled up, which ultimately results in Yamato essentially ignoring Mei and focusing on his pent up rage and frustration onto Kai. By ignoring Mei and almost treating her as a passive bystander with no say in their relationship Yamato further demonstrates how socially naïve he is and how little he truly understands about Mei and broader relationships. It does however appear that Megumi has yet to give up on Yamato, although right now it seems that she is after him more out of spite for Mei rather than any form of love for Yamato. That Kai and Aiko seem to have picked up on her intentions along with the presence of someone who seems to care for her as a friend does at least give us hope that she wont destroy herself in the process.