Boku wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai NEXT – Unwilling to change
March 24, 2013 1 Comment
Over the last few episodes we have seen Kodaka’s inability to change, and his unwillingness to even consider the idea that there are those who may care for him as something more than just friends. He is a character that is stuck in a particular way of thinking and viewing the Rinjin-bu, and is someone who fears the change that accepting the girls feelings may bring onto the club that he holds so dear. As we have seen during the first season, and throughout the run of Haganai, Kodaka is an individual with a complicated past, and has to deal with the scared faces of those around him due to his English parentage. As a social outcast, labelled as a yankee, and effectively ignored or avoided by everyone in school, Kodaka has lived a relatively isolated life, other than caring for his sister Kobato. This also means that his life has been incredibly simple until he started attending the Academy and in a way had very little to worry about, although he obviously felt a little lonely. By attending the Academy and then helping to form the Rinjin-bu with Yozora, Kodaka has gained a good group of friends as he has wished for, but in doing so his life has become far more complex than it once was.
To the audience it is blindingly obvious that the girls all have feelings to various degrees for Kodaka, with Yozora even mumbling that she only set up the Rinjin-bu so that she could once again be with Kodaka. However, Kodaka appears to remain oblivious to these feelings and goes on with the life that he has come to enjoy, simply spending his time with the Rinjin-bu and their series of strange and often pointless activities. Kodaka isn’t oblivious to their feelings but chooses to ignore them anyway for fear of what might happen to the club, and in doing so he risks hurting the very thing that he has come to cherish. By ignoring their feelings neither he, nor the other members of the club can ever really progress, and Kodaka in particular will get stuck in a vicious circle where he continually ignores what is obviously there. Kodaka’s relationship with the Rinjin-bu can be viewed as rather arrogant and flawed since he is ultimately trying to dictate the terms of their relationship in order to try and maintain the kind of relationship that he is comfortable with. He is the sole male student in a club full of beautiful girls, but is unwilling to even acknowledge the notion that they might see him as more than a simple club member.
Kodaka is afraid of change, and cannot quite cope with the how complicated his life has become as a member of the Rinjin-bu. On the one hand he has made numerous good friends in the Rinjin-bu, but he has also become the centre of attention from the other members, but instead of accepting their feelings for him, tries to maintain the status quo by essentially pretending to be oblivious to the whole thing. As we look at his current state compared to early on in the first series, it seems that he almost wishes he were still a social outcast who only looked after his sister. Kodaka and Kobato are very similar in this respect; with both pushing away those who wish tog et close to them for fear of the consequences of accepting their feelings of friendship or love. They wish for a simple life, despite it being impossible to live an uncomplicated life free from these sorts of emotional and mental conundrums. Kobato is clearly a popular individual with her class and even stars in their School Festival project as a princess. This is a fitting representation of her character during school hours as she puts up a wall around herself and pushes everyone who wants to get close and get to know her better away. The only times we see her being true to herself are during her Chuunibyou moments and as a member of the Rinjin-bu, a place that is safe, one apparently without complications. But in doing so she denies herself something immensely important and risks pushing everyone away and becoming stuck in a rut, perhaps even an endless loop where she can no longer interact with others.
This is precisely what Kodaka is creating, an endless loop from which he cannot escape, while also hurting those around him and preventing the club from moving on emotionally and psychologically. Kodaka, and to a certain extent Kobato are effectively the most immature members of the club (although we can forgive Kobato in a certain extent due to her age), and his attempts to dictate his view of the club upon the other members has clearly made everything far more complicated than it should be. This immaturity and selfishness are clearly demonstrated towards the end of the most recent episode when Sena came out and confessed her feelings for him, thus bringing back the spectre (at least for Kodaka) of their engagement. Until now Kodaka has put up a good front of being oblivious to their feelings (although Rika is too sharp not to have realised that it is merely an act), but in this one scene we see Kodaka panic and pretend that he hasn’t heard Sena’s confession. By panicking and then running away we see Kodaka’s immaturity and his selfishness – he is ignoring Sena’s feelings, while also ignoring his own. Kodaka can barely cope with the notion that there might be girls who love him, let alone think about his own feelings for the girls he spends time with.
Kodaka is also someone who puts upmost importance in his club, viewing its continuation as more important than anything else. It is a safe place where he has found friends, and as he points out to Rika, the only reason he can talk to her and bond with her over silly things like Yaoi manga is because they are club mates. In this simple phrase we see an individual who is stuck in one way of thinking, and while it might be true that were it not for the Rinjin-bu then these characters may never have met, there is still the possibility for change that Kodaka fiercely rejects. Rika has already pointed out to Kodaka that relationships change, people get to know one another better and either want to get closer or they slowly drift apart. In the case of the Rinjin-bu, everyone wishes to become closer to Kodaka, and they all have romantic feelings for him, in one form or another. He on the other hand desperately tries to maintain what he is comfortable with, a club that takes part in silly activities and isn’t complicated or difficult to deal with. As Rika points out, if he isn’t careful then he will stagnate while also hurting those around him through his own indecisive and potentially destructive wish to live a life without more complications than already exist.
If anything, Kodaka is the character that has progressed the least throughout the series, although he has always had the possibility to really move forward with his life. Rika has ditched her old, geekier look, and has instead become someone who freely changes her hairstyle and clothes, partly to get Kodaka’s attention. But in doing so she has demonstrated an ability to move on from who she was before the Rinjin-bu, and a willingness be more active with the group, although she has not changed entirely. The same can be said for Sena and Yozora, who have both developed a curious relationship where they both appear to hate one another, but remain incredibly close, while acknowledging the others abilities. This relationship was clearly demonstrated in this week’s episode, as Sena and Yozora both defended the Rinjin-bu from possible closure, and acknowledged each other’s abilities in doing so. Yozora wishes to protect the place where both her and Kodaka can belong, in keeping with her stated reasons for setting up the Rinjin-bu in the first place. On the other hand, Sena uses her power as the daughter of the Academy’s chairman to help create a space where she and Kodaka can socialise. Her confession was also the perfect opportunity for Kodaka to finally admit that he knew of their feelings all along, and in doing so move forwards as an individual and as a group. It was a way out, and while Kodaka need not have returned the feelings straight away (although it is perfectly possible judging by his numerous reactions over the course of the series that does have feelings for Sena), but simply acknowledging her confession would have made things so much simpler for him and everyone who surrounds him.
The final hurdle for Kodaka doesn’t seem to be about getting a girlfriend; instead it is more about admitting that the girls he spends his days with all have some form of romantic feelings towards him. In doing so, he would be instrumental in moving the club and its members forward, while also demonstrating that change isn’t always a bad thing. Acknowledging their feelings would likely change the group dynamic somewhat (although Sena’s public confession has arguably already done this) but it is unlikely to tear the Rinjin-bu apart like Kodaka clearly fears. Instead, we are more likely to have a group who are far more open about the feelings with each other, and it may become a club that is truly a wonderful place to be, rather than as it is right now, somewhere full of repressed and suppressed feelings and emotions. But, while Kodaka is clearly being selfish and arrogant in his approach, it is possible to partly understand the reasons behind his actions. It sounds simple to accept someone’s feelings, but because of his appearance and the general fear that it has engendered in others, he really hasn’t been able to interact with others until this point. He is therefore afraid of what an apparently simple change could bring to his much-cherished Rinjin-bu, and the fear of losing the only place that he may feel he belongs ends up coming out in his selfish and rather immature acts. Hopefully Rika and the student council president will push him down the path that he needs to go and make him realise that acknowledging the feelings of Sena, Rika, Yozora and Yukimura is really what he needs to do, rather than run away from it all.