「山田は僕が好き」 (Yamada wa Boku ga Suki)
“Yamada Likes Me”
From episode 1, Kyou has been on the hard journey of coming to love himself, to own himself for who he is. Today was the seminal point for this. The catalyst for the said point was Kyou being voluntold by the teacher to give the graduation speech. That was unthinking and unfeeling on the teacher’s part. Sure, he wants Kyou to fulfill his potential, but using brute force to get someone over their speed humps is not always a good tactic. High risk, high reward and conversely, if it fails, it could deal huge damage to Kyou that would make his self esteem a whole lot worse than it was before. You can’t be gambling with other people’s lives, they have to deal with the consequences- you don’t.
Things don’t look so good for Kyou on the trial run, until Anna comes along to lend a hand with her vocal lessons. Misplacing the diaphragm like that- LOL. Methinks that was not accidental, it was too good of an opportunity for her to pass up. Anna’s been a rock solid support for him, just like how he’s been there for her. That’s the beauty of their relationship, that they can see what the other person can’t or won’t, they fill the cracks in the other’s armor, building the other up to be stronger than they were before. Unlike the teacher who piles on the pressure, Anna never pressures him. She praises him, encourages him, supports him. That’s the way to help someone face their weaknesses, not shoving them over a cliff. Hearing the confession scene between Nanpai and the other girl, it lights the fire under Kyou’s butt to take the challenge head on, to show everyone Kyou is worthy of himself and of Anna.
Kyou is not alone in this, he’s got Anna, of course, Momma as a practice audience, and Kana with her “ganbare!” spirit. I had to chuckle when she brought out the creams, while it’s not a cold he’s suffering from, you can see how much she’s rooting for Kyou and that was sweet to see.
Kyou taking this step is basically the start of a new Kyou, the Kyou he’s been working towards since day one of this series. With a new me naturally comes a new look. But even that holds a minefield of anxieties for Kyou, mapping out his conversation with the stylist (he could have just shown her a picture, you know). We finally get to see more of his eyes (Anna no doubt will be happy for that)! You can see the (small) boost in confidence and coolness the new look gives him. As they say, your appearance can impact your self-image and confidence, and Kyou’s going forth in fighting spirit.
The whole “My hair doesn’t look the same” on the morning after is so true. There’s just something about a fresh cut that can’t be replicated on successive days, probably something due to whatever pomades the hair stylist puts in the hair or just knowing how to style it. Something which Kyou is totally clueless about. Serina was a total bud and helped him out with the wax, introducing him to the unimaginable experience of having a group of girls running their fingers through his hair.
It’s still not smooth sailing for Kyou, having brought his hair stylist notes instead of his speech the day of, like something out of a nightmare. He calls Kana who makes a rescue attempt on her scooter (and with the help of newbie-kun, an anime-original touch there). Unfortunately, she can’t make it in time, and sensei is of no help here either (hell, he was the one who put Kyou in this mess in the first place, the least he could have done was be more supportive). Just when it seems all is lost, Kyou’s alter ego shows up for a final pep talk, one of the most powerful pep talks to ever grace the screen (or page). “The one who loves you most is you”- what a statement. This is the heart of what Kyou’s been trying to learn all along, a journey that all (or at least most) of us have to embark on at least once in our lives. The key to finding yourself, to embracing yourself, to loving others, is ultimately to be able to love yourself. One of the single most important things you can learn, you can do in life. Not just can do, but need to do. Kyou can’t own his relationship with Anna until he learns to own himself.
The ordeal finally over, Kyou collapses, having drained every last bit of energy on that speech. Upon awakening, he finds not just Anna, but also Nanpai, who honestly, is not even there for Kyou- but Anna, to whom he makes a last chance confession. Kyou, upon hearing Nanpai voice his admiration for Anna’s spirit, realizes he and Nanpai share that in common. You can see it hits Kyou where it counts, realizing that and having to witness Nanpai vocalize the feelings that Kyou hasn’t been able to verbalize to Anna himself. Not that Kyou had anything to worry about, Anna’s head over heels for Kyou and Kyou only.
This was a big moment for Anna. A habitual people pleaser out of a fear of rejection, having to reject someone else and risk being disliked by them has got to be super hard for Anna to do. But she does it- she steps away from being a people pleaser and saying what the other person expects or giving a vague answer so she doesn’t have to disappoint someone else. She makes her rejection clear. What a moving scene that was, to see her confront her own feelings, overcome by the magnitude of the bond that she has with Kyou. Kyou has become important enough to her that she can face the possibility of disappointing someone else. This is a watershed moment for Kyou too, as it forces him yet again, to realize that Anna does like him. Proof that can’t be twisted by his brain.
That was pretty shitty of Nanpai to try and throw a wrench in Anna and Kyou’s relationship with the whole “he gave me your number” line. He’s a manipulative guy to be sure, the way he leads those girls on to keep them hanging around until they confess, trying to trainwreck Anna’s own crush, and so on. Yet, he doesn’t stoop so low as to use a pity story of his soccer injury to draw her in (not that it would work anyway). He’s got a lot of pride, that one. In a way, the antithesis of Kyou. Kyou has too little (though he’s working on that), and Nanpai has too much. Kyou knows he’s not cool (though he really is), but feared vulnerability out of a fear of rejection. Nanpai believes he’s cool (though he’s really not), but fears vulnerability out of a fear of looking weak. The one owns his weakness (Kyou) and grows from there. The other does not own it and consequently, uses others (his female fan club) to prop up his own insecurities.
Thankfully, Anna knows better. She and Kyou have come so close from so far, that she knows he’s not capable of something like that. She knows how much Kyou respects and cares for her and someone like that would never betray her trust like that. The way they’ve come to trust and to love themselves as much as each other is a truly special journey to watch. And guess what- it’s not even over! How do you even follow up this pinnacle of an episode? But Norio-sensei does it, so you’d best get the chocolates or popcorn and tissues ready for the wild, wonderful ride that is Boku Yaba.