「僕は僕を知ってほしい」 (Boku wa Boku o Shitte Hoshii)
“I Wanted to Be Seen”
A new year, a new Kyo- a Kyo who’s been a year in the making. I’m sure he never would have guessed at that time the previous year that he’d be double booking himself for a hatsumode with his family and his crush. That scene where she and him make that wish together- absolutely priceless. I give Kana some serious props- she’s such a wingwoman and Kyo’s certainly lucky that he has her to look out for him. She smoothly coordinates it to get Anna and Kyo alone in the house with the pretense of delicious ozoni. Kana’s starstruck with Anna’s style and adorableness and Anna with her- they become “Onee-chan” and “Anna-chan”- good thing for Kyo the two get along. Kana not only invites Anna for Kyo, she also reads the situation with the Akita keychain. Contrary to being upset like Kyo was afraid of, she does him a solid and leaves her matching one behind for him, now to be dubbed “Kenjiro” by Anna. As to the name- the “ji” is one of the ways the word for “2” can be read, hence why Anna says that he must be Kenjiro because he’s the second one.
I’m sure one of the things that would make it on the “super embarrassing” list is dredging through some old photos with a crush- the treatment Kyo gets and the hands of Kana and Anna in old yearbooks and trophies. Anna knows nothing about his past, so of course a bunch of trophies would look cool- but to Kyo, they can be a source of pain, a reminder of his “glory days” before hitting a brick wall of disappointment, getting rejected from his school of choice while watching his friends move on without him. I can relate so hard to this- not in grade/middle school so much, but later in life, during college working towards graduate school. Devoting yourself to one’s studies and accumulating accolade after accolade, you become confident there’s nothing you can’t do, no height you can’t scale- until you can’t get into the school you want, can’t reach the height you hoped for. It shattered my whole world and like Kyo, it shook my confidence as I looked back on the good old glory days and wondered if my life were over, if it would just be drudgery from here on out. Thankfully, it wasn’t for me and it isn’t for Kyo, which for him, is thanks to Anna.
His admission that Anna made school more fun for him is practically a confession, I’d say. Anna’s response was pretty powerful- “It’s thanks to you”. Taking that first step is always the hardest and the most important. As she points out, Kyo did that by showing up to school in the first place. That scene encapsulates how and why Anna has been so instrumental in Kyo overcoming his hurdles. Pointing out his own effort enables him to have confidence in being his own agent, to realize his own strengths rather than depending on Anna as the sole source of his strength. She respects him, likes him for who he is, even at moments when Kyo’s convinced “It’s over” like that heart-pounding part when she finds that magazine in his bed. Kyo’s last ditch attempt at recovery almost put both of them over the edge, the magazine forgotten in the wake.
To aptly quote Simon and Garfunkel “I have my books/ And my poetry to protect me/ I am shielded in my armor”- a perfect descriptor for Kyo (and myself around that age). Kyo’s “These were my armor”- grab the tissues, that had me in tears. I can so relate, picking on yourself, finding what’s unusual about you that no-one else does or likes and using it to justify why you’re alone. It becomes the wall you hide behind, to push others away, convinced there’s no way they’d want to be friends (or just friends- for now). Kyo’s insecurities come back to haunt him in the form of Nigorikawa (talk about bearing one’s heart- or chest). It’s like a foot race, really, between one’s negative past and hope for the future- when you take one step into confidence, a past experience races from behind into first place until eventually one or the other takes first place. Lucky for Kyo, Anna doesn’t give up, inviting him over to her place in a roundabout way to see her childhood yearbooks. Not only that, she’s the first person to greet him on his first day back at school (no surprise why onee-chan wanted to tag along on that trip). She even buttons his matching keychain on for all the world to see- another declaration that probably won’t catch anyone by surprise, especially with Moe’s “Have you two done it?!” as exhibit A. The two have come so far, but like any good story, it’s not over yet- more about that later!
BokuYaba means so much to me, more than I could adequately convey into words, though I can attempt to fumble at it. As I’ve talked about time and again this whole season, Sakurai Norio puts her experience, my experience, the experience of so many others into Kyo, gives heart and humor to the painful, awkward experience of navigating growing up as an overthinker. She doesn’t hand the experience of youth in a clean, nicely wrapped package- she tells it like it is. Which I think is redeeming, to know you’re not the only one and to see middle-school from the other side through personal experience as well as Kyo and Anna’s story, that things get pretty messy, but somehow or other work out, the light is there at the end of the tunnel. Sakurai gives depth to each of the characters- no-one becomes one-note. Kyo is the shy, awkward nerdy kid who has a heart of gold, wants to connect with others but just needs the confidence and experience to do so. Anna is the bubbly, elegant girl who is a bit of a mess (need I say Pruiche!), has insecurities, and is the kind of person without any airs, who can put anyone at ease. Even side characters like Moe have more than one layer- the bestie who looks out for her friend but doesn’t want to be overshadowed by her (a la Nanpai).
And don’t even get me started on Kyo and Anna- I could gush all day about those two. They complement each other so well, their patience with one another’s quirks, their smiles and blushes, how they’ve opened themselves to being vulnerable with one another. They’ve developed this precious push pull relationship where the one doesn’t let the other go. A perfect culmination of this in the end scene where Kyo accepts Anna’s affection and returns the sentiment, placing his hand around her- a heart jerker for sure. It’s taken all season to get there- what a ride it’s been and a worthwhile one at that. Any journey will take many, many steps- there is no shortcut in life and Sakurai knows this well, taking us along with Kyo and Anna on an initial slow burn that picks up speed like an airplane at take off. It feels pretty slow on the runway, but look out once things start to take off.
I am beyond grateful that BokuYaba got the adaptation it deserves. Hats off to Akagi Hiroaki for stellar directorship, moving material around, adding in some of his own lines (like the scene with Kyo standing up to Nanpai last week) that really made an already gold series shine even more. Not to mention the rest of the staff, the seiyuu, music, and studio that devoted so much care- all I can say is, thank you. I am even more ecstatic to say that this isn’t the end, but a “see you later”, with S2 officially on the way!!!!!! While we don’t know when it’s coming, what’s important is that it is coming. This really deserved at least another season- there is so much more to these precious kids’ story that I wanted to see adapted, that need to be adapted and I can rest easy that not only will I see that, but in a way that does it justice, based on the treatment from S1.
Lastly, thank you all to the dear readers who so kindly read to the end of my War and Peace length posts and to those commented each week- I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did and let’s look forward to the continuation of Kyo and Anna’s story next time!