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Jan 31, 2017 9:00 AM
Anime Relations: 3-gatsu no Lion
As Kyouko's past is slowly revealed through her intermittent appearances, one can come to appreciate Umino Chika’s masterful writing. When Kyouko does appear, she fluctuates from a viciously manipulative behaviour to caring about Rei's well-being, whilst simultaneously attempting to crush his confidence. It becomes immediately clear that she's exceptionally torn between needing Rei in her life, and despising him for being the primary causation of the issues she had with her family in previous episodes. However, this episode finally outlines the subtle dynamics in their relationship, really showing that things are not as apparent as they previously seemed.

It's one of the first times we get a fuller picture of Kyouko, in how she views both herself and Rei. She possesses particularly complicated feelings towards Shogi, hating it for controlling her life, but franticly seeks out an attachment to it so that she can feel like she has a place to exist. The way 3-gatsu portrays Kyouko's obsession is absolutely amazing. Her dependence on Rei and Gotou is a symptom of the aforementioned desire in wanting to belong, and helps to rationally contextualise her erratic interactions whilst expressing a silent cry for help.

Clinging to a twisted person like Gotou because of her abject desperation for affectionate companionship epitomises Kyouko's tragedy. Before, it was Rei that she clung to so that she could compensate for the lack of attention from her parents, even though he was indirectly the source for most of her problems. She simply didn't have anyone else. With Rei’s departure, the wounds and misgivings of the Kouda household might have slowly started to heal, only Kyouko also came to realize that Rei was the person she depended on for emotional support, hence why she sought him out at his apartment in Episode 8. Kyouko is self-pitying and needy, desperately wanting to be loved in order to validate her existence. Such an existence, defined by an unfathomable emptiness ensuing from unreciprocated love, be it familial or romantic, is something I find to be extremely pitiful and heart-breaking. Especially so, when considering how little control she truly had over the consequences derived from events that directly shaped her character. In short, I find it difficult to personally blame Kyouko for turning out the way she did. As sadistic as it sounds, she is such a wonderful character to follow, owing to the complexity of her struggles and suffering.

On the other hand, we have Rei, and his perspective on Kyouko. Their relationship is remarkable to think about, considering their intricate backstory. Kyouko's visual depiction is extremely well-done as usual; half hidden by darkness at times, and we rarely get to see her full figure, especially from Rei's perspective - it's always obscured. From what we learned about Kyouko, her emotional fragility helps explain why Rei is so protective of her, to the point he will put up with her negativity and abuse. Despite his trepidation towards her, due to past incidents between them, he deeply cares for her. He's hurt by her words and actions, but still wants to protect her. It's likely because he blames himself for her current state, that he is willing to endure for her sake, despite how she treats him. It is also intriguing, that Rei realised he needed to independently resolve his own problems, before trying to help out Kyouko. His despair over his utter lack of power to help Kyouko will hopefully help to drive him forwards, rather than consume him entirely. I look forwards to the character development that this should generate on his part.

Despite what the exposition reveals, Kyouko still remains a mystery for the viewers. To surmise, she is cold and manipulative, yet beautiful and reserved about her frail side. Other series of lesser value would be content with hastily cramming the entire substance of a backstory into one episode or chapter, dispelling the possibility of creating mystery, and limiting the extent of any potential character development. In my opinion, this is what helps distinguish merely good storytelling from the amazing writing present in works like 3-gatsu. I've been saying from her very first introduction, that Kyouko is a character flawed by virtue of her human nature, and upon closer inspection, it is a lot more difficult to outright call her truly evil. I would even go as far as saying, that the evil attributed to her is a by-product of the psychological damage she sustained earlier in her life. That she continues to be an enthralling character, given what we have seen of her, serves to demonstrate the extraordinary quality of 3-gatsu’s storytelling.
Posted by Zaiden | Jan 31, 2017 9:00 AM | 1 comments
Zaiden | Jan 31, 2017 4:50 PM
Hi there, thanks for reading my blog post on Kyouko! Judging from your response, I suppose that you are somewhat justified in feeling angry towards Kyouko, for seemingly trying to sabotage Rei at every turn. However, I feel that Kyouko’s character is a lot more complex and intriguing than you give her credit for. So I will attempt to advocate on her behalf, and hope you are able to feel more sympathy for her character, in addition to the way that she turned out.

Kyouko wants Rei’s attention because to her, he is the ideal child. Someone who is successful at Shogi and who is loved by their father. At the same time she hates him for being more successful at Shogi than she could ever be, and someone who usurped the love her father should have given her. She puts him down to feel powerful over someone who she feels has stolen her place, and wants him to pay attention to her so she won’t feel inferior, or like she has been left behind.

Put yourself in Kyouko’s position. After trying to gain your own father’s recognition for many years, only to have a complete outsider come in and gain all the attention and love you had been working hard to gain for your entire life, wouldn’t you start to feel somewhat invalidated? To her, hard work didn’t mean anything when faced with talent. Since she was just a child, it would be unfair for us to blame Kyouko for being crushed by this discovery, or expect her to really consider that Rei has led a much harder life than she has. In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that we can still perceive Kyouko as a child rather than a grown woman, where 3-gatsu is presently set in.

Examining the situation, is it fair to blame children for being unable to adequately control or express their emotions? I would feel inclined to say that the responsibility certainly lies with Rei’s adoptive father, Kouda. Had he not placed such a huge merit on shogi towards his family, perhaps a mutual love, and harmony could have developed between the siblings and Rei. Instead, their father reinforced their understanding that parental love is tied to success, and that success is found in Shogi.

Suddenly Kyouko’s behaviour makes sense: who else can she blame other than Rei besides herself? Sure, she might hold some anger towards her father, but ultimately from her perspective Rei is the one causing all the problems in her household. At such a young age, one would be more inclined to blame the person who isn’t even a true part of their family, for their own shortcomings. It still doesn’t excuse her behaviour, but knowing she doesn’t emotionally abuse Rei for the sake of it adds depth to her character.

The ambiguity of the situation, and the raw human experience, undistilled of its darkness, is the beauty of 3-gatsu and Umino Chika’s writing. She presented us with characters flawed by virtue of their human nature, and upon closer inspection, it is a lot more difficult to outright call them truly evil. In this context, I would argue that the circumstances are a morally grey collective responsibility, as opposed to being the fault of an individual. Not to mention, it allows us to contrast Kyoto with the Kawamoto sisters, who we can then further appreciate for their positive influence upon Rei’s life.

If you want truly despicable scum, I suggest you direct your anger at Rei’s paternal grandfather, aunt, and relatives, who do not show an ounce of respect to the dead, or compassion for Rei’s tragic loss, but rather care more about what they can gain out of greed and avarice.
Dajoeman | Jan 31, 2017 2:52 PM
This was well written, I must commend you on the analysis. The only thing I can't agree on is that I just don't see how she had little control over what happened in the past. Those events were her own doing and it led to her demise, she's been seen as proud and rude. she often tried to make Rei feel lesser than her and all of these signs were shown. Rei believes that he's the cause because he truly cares for her but i feel that maybe if Rei wasn't cared for by her father then kyouka wouldn't have turned out this way. Lets not forget that without the attention her father showed Rei, God knows if he would still be alive. he had nobody to lean on, kyouka didn't even try to be there for him, no one else but her dad, and this can happen in any family. She and her father basically had no similarities, Rei got along better because he had shogi to always discuss with her dad and thats what led to her jealousy and Rei's maltreatment by her. She felt left out but can you really blame the dad for that? or even anyone except life. Because in life you can't always get your cake and eat it. things don't always o as planned or how you want it.