BOY DO I HAVE A LOT TO UNPACK IN THIS EPISODE. So hold onto your seats, this is going to be a long one.
After the amount of time in the spotlight Yuki has gotten in this season, it only makes sense for him to be put on the back burner in this episode because ladies and gentlemen, we get some well needed Kyo character development. As I’ve said in the past, I felt like he’s been kind of stuck in place after season 1. He hasn’t been making any significant progress in terms of development like Yuki has so Kyo was beginning to feel stale to me. But that all changed with this episode. Unfortunately, after the conclusion, it feels that while he may be moving forward, he’s relented to it being only temporary.
Kyo has been summoned by Akito and we as an audience know that it’s not a good thing. It was honestly hard to see Tohru feel so happy for him since she views it as the cat possibly being accepted into the Zodiac, something that Kyo had stated he wanted at the start of the series. And while I can understand him being frustrated that Tohru was left all alone at the house, I appreciated that Yuki basically called him out on it. What right does he have to yell at all of them for going to see Akito when he summoned them only for him to go when he’s called to? Yes, a part of it was because Tohru was happy for him, but even then, he still could have chosen to stay behind if he was so concerned about her being alone in the summer house. It’s still frustrating to watch Kyo lash out in violence and anger and it seems that even Yuki is tired of their usual interactions as he doesn’t even take part in fighting Kyo when he threw a punch at him. I hope that he’ll knock that nasty habit in time.
A lot was dropped in this interaction between Kyo and Akito. Not only do we find out that they made a bet on whether Kyo can actually beat Yuki, but we delve deeper into Zodiac curse. Taking their bet into consideration, we come to understand why Kyo has always been so desperate to beat Yuki since it’s basically become a matter of life or death to him in a sense. However, because of just how deeply rooted the curse is in their beings, the cat is always destined to lose to the rat. No matter how much will power someone has, there are just certain things that cannot be overcome. Which probably has to do with the fact when Akito summons the Zodiac members, they never say no despite how terrible he is. The curse somehow binds them all to Akito in a way we cannot understand (yet). The extent of the curse seems to reach further beyond the fact they turn into Zodiac animals when hugged by the opposite sex. So when people say that the Zodiac members should just leave Akito, I think they’re underestimating the extent of the curse.
I don’t care that much about Kyo, but it definitely was hard to watch Akito beat all of these fallacies into his head of how it was his fault that his mom died and that he’s nothing but a monster. The bet they made was extremely cruel as Akito most likely only waged it to possibly snuff out all hope for him being accepted into the Zodiac, knowing full well that the curse would prevent him from beating Yuki. Kyo has just been dealt a losing hand from the start and everyone around him seemed to only want to tear him down. It’s especially cruel that his father flat out told him that his mom committed suicide when he was just a child and even blaming him for it. No child should ever have to go through something like that, much less be blamed for such an event.
Despite my irks towards him, I will admit that Kyo is an interesting character. He’s desperate to try and change fate in a way. But I feel like he’s going about it wrong since he’s trying to strong arm his way into bending fate. However, from what we have seen, he himself is unable to change that on his own no matter how much he tries. The curse prevents him from going all the way, he needs something or someone else to help. And it becomes blatantly clear that Tohru is the one that could help him. She essentially saved him emotionally because if she had let him go when he first transformed in front of her, his heart would be permanently sealed off towards everyone.
I found Kyo to be much more likeable when he’s being honest and not selfish. Thinking of others rather than himself. I’m still not a shipper, but I can understand the Kyo x Tohru ship. It at least makes sense story-wise and character-wise. Can’t say that about a lot of other ships that have become canon in other series. Also, I have to give credit where credit is due, Kyo handled the situation with Akito very well, as well as he could have anyways since Akito just CANNOT be reasoned with. He didn’t violently lash out only raised his voice when he was trying to get a valid point across. He didn’t even use his intimidation tactics like grab Akito’s collar like he did in the flashback. Even when Akito started throwing things and hitting him, he didn’t retaliate. His reactions, while desperate and confused, weren’t ill-tempered and even took blame for the very first time. All to protect Tohru from Akito. That was a very noble act, even if it means to sacrifice his own feelings. It’s sad, especially since he just realized them, only to bury them away in order to protect her. He relented, allowed himself to take the blow instead of retaliating and making the situation worse, effectively doing just what Yuki asked of him. That is some massive character development from someone who blew up at the smallest things. He went from being someone who trampled on a small flower, devoid of hope, to sacrificing himself and his feelings to protect someone, someone who was able to give him hope.
It was sad that Kyo basically chose to sacrifice himself to protect Tohru, but in a sense, it was very poetic. In the previous episode, he commented on how he doesn’t understand how one life could be sacrificed over the other, but found the answer in Tohru. He can’t bear to see her be trampled by Akito and just wants her to be happy, even if he can’t remain by her side. I think the biggest step for Kyo in his development was saying he didn’t care about being summoned anymore. Basically saying, he didn’t need to become a part of the Zodiac, something he had longed for even before the start of the series. Kind of like the story structure of the protagonist wanting something at first, but ends up not being what he actually needs. Kyo never NEEDED a place in the Sohma family. What he did need, was to find a place where he could belong and that place is Tohru. Unfortunately, from how things concluded, it may only be temporary as it seems Kyo has agreed to be locked away once he graduates from high school.
I do really like the contrast between Yuki and Kyo. Both have had a revolution on their feelings towards Tohru during this beach arc. With Yuki, he realizes just what kind of love he holds of Tohru while with Kyo he finally realizes that he does love Tohru. Not to mention that their interaction with Akito is what pushed them to their conclusions… ironic, isn’t it? Though while Yuki has finally started continuing to move forward away from the influence of the Sohma family, Kyo seemingly has walked back, accepting his fate to be locked away. They both were fighting to change their fates. But while Yuki marches forward, Kyo has relented.
We also find out that both Kyo and Yuki were basically bound to Tohru since they were kids. While in different ways, all three of them were essentially destined to meet one another, touching each others lives in ways they would not have expected. Also I honestly didn’t expect Kyo to have actually met Kiyoko when I first read the manga. That was a shocker. Looks like both Yuki and Kyo had run away at one point and ended up meeting Tohru in one way or another.
But if anyone is stationary in this series, it has to be Akito. Akito is just so unrelenting and believes everything he says is correct. Even going as far as to shut out anything that could prove him wrong. “You’re always quick to make me the villain, huh?” Oh please, you do that fine on your own, Akito. That reminded me so much of Mother Gothel from Tangled. Their use of manipulation is very similar, especially in regards to just feeding the people closest to them lies about the outside world and how they will be rejected because they’re different and only they care about them, even when it’s not true. As shown when Akito was washing his hands because he felt gross for touching Kyo so much. He doesn’t care about Kyo, he only cares about his control over him. Akito even has the gall to refer to Tohru as a monster. Though I admit, I chuckled at Akito basically calling out what people who don’t like Tohru as a character, claiming she’s too “perfect.” When the scum of the earth in a series calls a character too perfect, you know something is wrong lol. As we’ve seen, Tohru isn’t perfect, she didn’t just magically accept Kyo’s true form like it was nothing. She was terrified and forced herself to run after him because if she hadn’t, Kyo really would have left. Not only that, but there are feelings that Tohru doesn’t want to open the lid to, something she keeps deeply hidden away from others. We don’t know what this is yet, but we’ll have to wait a while for those feelings to be revealed.
I know that this episode was all about Kyo, but can I just talk about my boy real quick? The fact that Yuki encountered Akito, spoke evenly and calmly with him without freaking out, MY BOY HAS GROWN SO MUCH. To face your abuser that had caused him nothing but terror his entire life with the air of near indifference, that’s a huge hurtle. Not to mention I loved the symbolism of Akito having left the faucet running, clearly reflecting how Akito rattles on with lie after lie about how Kyo hates Tohru. Once he leaves, Yuki comes over and turns it off, all the while stating how untrue that statement was. He didn’t let the lie get to him and completely cut off it off, knowing that it’s not true. If he said that to Akito’s face, Akito most definitely would have lost it considering how he reacts to being called out. Man I love Yuki. I do hope that he’ll eventually have the nerve to call out Akito one day.
This was a fantastic episode. The visuals, the emotions, the build up to Kyo realizing his feelings were great even if it ended up being bittersweet with him sacrificing himself for Tohru’s happiness. This episode took so long to analyze, but that just shows just how much was packed into it. There were also some hints to certain events that haven’t been revealed yet which paves the way to more development in the future. There was just so much to this episode and made me who has been indifferent towards Kyo actually care about him, if not briefly. It also wonderfully illustrated just how much Kyo is essentially “meant” to be with Tohru even if I’m a bit disappointed. But even then, I can’t argue against it because it made such a sound argument in canon. Again, it makes sense.