Double-posted to tumblr blog. See more below cut.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this since Saturday (yes, it took me 3 days to finish and I’m all burned out) so decided it’d be best to organize it and put it out there.
First of all, is it even possible to resolve all these relationship conflicts in the 4 remaining episodes?
Personally, I don’t believe it can be done. As much as I like this show, the romance portion of it has felt really rushed, particularly for the right side of the chart. If this anime had been announced for 24 episodes instead of just 12, maybe things would’ve worked out better because it would have had more time to make more sense. But alas, it looks like we’re stuck with 12.
Anyways, as of right now, I’m having a hard time picturing nobody walking out of this without a broken heart.
Which leads me to my second question. Just how far or how much do you have to like someone before it can be counted as love?
So here’s what I’m going to do in attempt to answer that. I’m going to break it down one pair at a time and see where it’ll go for that ‘couple’ from there (note: not taking the time limit into consideration).
Please indulge me.
Also my interpretations are based on my own opinions and observations so please don’t be offended.
The First Triangle
Nico –> Tenga
Kicking off with one of the weirder ones. Nico’s crush on Tenga baffles me because of how much she grew to like him in such a short amount of time.
Frankly, you don’t need a logical reason to fall for somebody as long as there is a reason or development that led you to liking them.
For Nico, it occurred in episode 3 when Tenga complimented her for being smart, which marked the start of her crush. Following that, she’s been nothing but conspicuous whenever Tenga showed interest in Chidori (not aware that he was acting as Chidori’s wingman). But aside from those instances and the more recent ‘you look cute in a jersey’ scene, not a lot has happened that gives us a clearer idea on why she became so attracted to Tenga.
In a group, it’s easy to follow Tenga who always takes the lead. He and Nico also have outgoing personalities so they get along well in that respect. However, can that count as part of her feelings towards him?
Not really, imo. It looks like Nico’s desire for friendship is kept separate from her affections for Tenga so when the other Kiznaivers are present, Nico just goes along with the flow so that they can become closer as friends.
So really, what is it that draws her to Tenga? That’s my main problem with this ship.
Nico has been shown to be very intuitive in spite of her eccentric personality. However, once Tenga says something nice about her, she reacts like a normal girl does around the person she likes. Flustered, ecstatic, happy, a little in over her head.
But the development doesn’t really add up. Tenga only complimented her twice throughout the show so far and while he’s sincere about what he says, it was out of politeness and nothing more.
Seeing as Nico didn’t have friends before the Kiznaivers, it’s possible that she’s only getting excited because no person (no guy) has ever complimented her before and meant it. But is that really enough to get you to like them?
Flipping it around, what is it that Nico likes about Tenga? That is the real question. Does she like him because he’s Tenga or does she like him because he said some nice things about her?
Attraction can happen based on somebody’s attraction towards you but it’s quite obvious that Tenga doesn’t see Nico in that way. And Nico may or may not be aware of that fact. What I’m not sure is whether Nico is aware of her own reasons for liking Tenga and I hope they touch more on that topic in the next episode. If it turns out that she only likes the idea of being liked and not really the person himself, then this ship can’t even be counted as one-sided.
Nico & Chidori
Honestly, I was hoping these two would become besties (because I love girl friendships) but apparently not cuz why waste time on creating a meaningful, in-depth relationship when you can prioritize having romance ruin everyone’s lives, right? xP
For all the challenges Chidori brings into Nico’s feelings towards Tenga, Nico still gets along well with Chidori. Chidori, of course, gets along with everyone since she’s a nice girl.
Chidori also only has eyes for Katsuhira (atm) so while Nico still sees her as a ‘threat’ in securing Tenga’s attention, it’s not so big that she has to prepare herself to fight for it yet. As long as Chidori is still fixated on Katsuhira, Nico’s rivalry with Chidori will remain as one-sided as her crush on Tenga.
But suppose Chidori moves on from Katsuhira and Tenga decides that it’s safe to want something with Chidori. How will Nico react to that?
Or maybe that’s moving a little too fast. Let’s go back a few steps.
Suppose Tenga confesses to Nico about his feelings for Chidori in the next episode and how he wants to keep it a secret because he promised to help Chidori get together with Katsuhira. Whichever way that goes, Nico will not be on the receiving end of Tenga’s feelings. Because Chidori is the one Tenga likes. Tenga is giving Chidori his support because he likes her.
That leaves no place for Nico to squeeze in. She can definitely continue trying but chances are Tenga’s feelings probably won’t change. At the very least, not right away.
So how will Nico deal with Chidori then?
Even though it puts Nico in a tough situation, I don’t think that’s enough to get Nico to hate or act bitter towards Chidori. It’s not Chidori’s fault that Tenga likes her. Heck, Chidori isn’t even aware that Tenga likes her and besides the teachers, nobody else seems to be aware that Nico likes Tenga. Nico seems reasonable so she should be able to see that.
Still, it’ll probably drive a wedge between them, which will make it difficult for them to become closer as friends.
And that’s only from Nico’s perspective. We’ve yet to see Chidori doing any bonding with the girls as she’s always worrying about Katsuhira and taking care of the boys when they’re over at his apartment. But I suspect that if/when Chidori is forced to come to a conclusion with Katsuhira (read: rejection/unrequited love), she’ll probably want to confide in someone about it and it’ll either be Tenga or the girls. And if she chooses to go to Nico, it’ll be interesting to see how Nico will handle her rival.
That is, if we even have time to get to that.
The Second Triangle
Tenga –> Chidori
Tenga’s circumstances are actually quite similar to Nico’s if you think about it. Nico was won over by words, Tenga was won over by food. In essence, it’s people’s thoughtfulness that seem to capture their hearts.
But unlike Nico, whose true reasons for liking Tenga are still vague, the roots of Tenga’s feelings are much easier to discern because they appear more grounded.
He complains about Chidori’s motherly nagging but anyone can tell that he was pretty moved after he discovered the extent of her kindness (ex. the extra bento, the extra handkerchief).
Combine that with his sympathy towards her progress with Katsuhira constantly hitting a brick wall and how he thinks of her as ‘cute’ even when she’s in one of her worse moods, it’d be dumb to say that Tenga isn’t interested in Chidori.
The point is, Tenga likes Chidori for who she is. She may be an annoying goody two-shoes and she does have her occasional violent tsundere tendencies but she’s also very caring and considerate of others. Especially when it comes to the childhood friend she stuck by with so long, which I think won some mad respect from Tenga.
We still don’t know what Tenga’s personal life is like but judging by how he (formerly) had no friends and spent most of his time beating up bullies and earning the fearsome nickname ‘Mad Dog’, people were probably too afraid to approach him, let alone be nice to him. So when Chidori showed concern for him alongside her usual worries for Katsuhira, he was pleasantly surprised. So much that he offered to play matchmaker to return the favor. Cuz Tenga is a bro after all so it’s only proper.
Except he didn’t expect to develop a crush on her in the process though he does a very good job of hiding it.
I suspect that won’t hold up for long, though. Tenga is the hot-blooded type so if he learns you did something to the people he cares about, he’ll go all-out brutal on you like he did during the whole training camp fiasco. What’s more in Chidori’s case is that it’s not just because he likes her. It’s because he sees her as a vulnerable girl, who doesn’t know how to fight, and that probably activates his protective instincts.
At the rate the plot is going, the Kiznaivers will certainly be forced to confront their feelings in episode 9. When that happens, Chidori’s pain will cause Tenga to come running. Whether this pivotal moment will cause him to try and cheer her up while setting his feelings aside OR push him to confess, we’ll have to wait and see. But one thing’s for sure, these two can’t proceed in the direction of a couple if they both don’t consider that option of “them”.
I mean, at the very least, for it to even move anywhere, Chidori has to notice Tenga’s feelings first and that won’t happen unless Tenga shouts it out in front of her since he’s so good at keeping it a secret and Chidori is too focused on Katsuhira. *wrings hands*
Tenga & Katsuhira
Another thing that complicates this triangle is the matter of the boys’ friendship.
It’s hard to tell if these two have gotten any closer since Tenga ‘moved’ in because most of the time they’re always hanging out in a group but I like to believe they have. You don’t live in same apartment together for an extended period of time and not get used to each other like how roommates would.
Furthermore, Katsuhira may have initially ok-ed Tenga to crash at his place without a second thought but from what he said later on about enjoying Tenga’s company (“It’s fun having Tenga-kun around”), there’s a strong indication that Katsuhira definitely wants Tenga as a friend.
The same probably goes for Tenga. At first, he wanted to stay close to Katsuhira to ensure he didn’t go off and needlessly get himself hurt which would then cause everyone else pain through the system. But after all the time they spent together, Katsuhira letting him freeload in his home and eat out of his fridge and not demanding anything in return (not even telling him to not strip down to his underwear in the middle of his living room), you wouldn’t expect Tenga to be ungrateful.
Katsuhira isn’t the most liveliest person ever but he is a decent person so it’d make Tenga even angrier than before if someone ever tried bullying him again.
In short, they have a maybe/almost mutual companionship going on here which is amazing because they are both such different individuals.
Then you throw in Chidori and the whole dynamic is potentially disrupted. Chidori, whom Katsuhira views as an important friend and whom Tenga is interested in but doesn’t make a move on for several reasons.
One, because Tenga’s crush hasn’t wandered into full-blown love territory yet and he seems pretty careful with sensitive topics like that so he won’t act until he’s positively sure it’s okay to. Chidori, however, has been harboring her love for Katsuhira since they were kids. In short, the duration of time when it comes to like/love does matter.
Two, because those two have been friends since childhood and you can’t come in between something like that.
Three, everyone knows Chidori loves Katsuhira so it would be rude of Tenga to interfere with his own feelings when he already decided he was going to get them together.
Finally, four, because Tenga is a bro (da best of bros) and he will not take what is not his.
I think Tenga has made peace with those facts for the time being. Even if Katsuhira is not responding to Chidori’s affections now, there’s a chance he might in the future so Tenga has to play the part as a good friend to make sure that both his friends come together.
But with Katsuhira’s attention turned towards Noriko and the recovery of his memories, those chances are becoming slimmer and slimmer and it’ll not only make it harder on Chidori but Tenga as well.
The longer Katsuhira doesn’t give Chidori the answer she wants, the more Tenga is pushed into a position to act because his own feelings may be becoming too big for him to hold in anymore. Whatever he does and whether he does it for Chidori’s, Katsuhira’s or his own benefit, I can’t be sure. We can’t even predict it would be a good outcome either when we don’t know whether or not the Kiznaivers will learn the truth about what happened to Katsuhira during the early days of the Kizna Project and how that will affect Chidori’s and Tenga’s relation with him in any way.
I just hope that their friendships can be salvaged after that trial (which I’m sure they will but I wanted to say it just to be safe). Katsuhira and Tenga’s, especially, since they appear to be the two closest guys in the group. Regardless of what Katsuhira’s response will be to Chidori’s confession, it shouldn’t destroy the relationship that’s been steadily building up between him and Tenga.
The Third Triangle
Chidori –> Katsuhira
There’s no use trying to sugarcoat it. Chidori keeps piling up her hopes like a house of cards and virtually anything can knock it down.
Like the fact that Katsu can’t return her feelings in his current condition because he’s lost the ability to love. Or to understand what it means to love.
That is probably equivalent to sending a paper airplane at it.
The bowling ball version would be learning that Katsu’s special person has always been Noriko and in the case that Katsu does regain his emotions, he might probably feel the same way which would effectively shatter Chidori’s hearts to bits.
That is not to say that, as of right now, Chidori has 0% chance. She definitely does still have a chance. However, those are less than 50% and as Katsu continues to remember more and more about his past, those chances are going to decrease because it’s likely he’ll make Noriko, saving Noriko from the Kizna Project, his priority.
But please, let’s remember that just because Katsu may not think of Chidori in the way she wants him to think of her, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t think of her at all. He certainly does.
For one thing, Chidori has been his friend for years and though it took him a while to realize, he’s glad that she’s always been there for him. Katsu may not be so great at expressing his gratitude but that’s not his fault since his emotions were technically robbed from him during those child experiments. What’s important is that he can still be able feel happy and be able to convey that to Chidori, which he’s done in episode 2.
For another, give me an example of when Katsu has never shown concern for Chidori when he was aware that she was in serious trouble. There are none. He was far from indifferent when the group was sent on a wild goose chase to find her. He’s given her a piggyback ride when she hurt her ankle. He told her that she was fine the way she was, settling her insecurities about her feelings being too ‘heavy’. And in this scene, he readily took on the responsibility of getting Chidori out of the rain and making sure she stayed safe from the antics of the Kizna committee.
Anyone who says Katsu doesn’t care about Chidori is dead fuckin’ wrong. Katsu will always care about Chidori because they are fuckin’ friends.
And being friends does NOT mean you must return someone’s feelings if they grow to like you in a romantic way.
It also does NOT mean you have to be conscious of their feelings 24/7 when you develop an interest in someone else.
The one who should be taking care of her own feelings is Chidori, not Katsu. If she’s not willing to get hurt by Katsu, then she should’ve withdrawn from chasing after him a long time ago. Because loving someone, wanting a relationship with someone, involves risks and that includes the risk of getting hurt.
As Chidori has witnessed ever since they became Kiznaivers, Katsu has always been intrigued by Noriko for reasons she can’t comprehend because she doesn’t know about that part of Katsu’s life before he changed. It’s understandable that she’d feel upset and jealous over it but she can never order Katsu not to think about Noriko for the sake of her own emotional security. She can never tell him to always be mindful of her and ignore worrying about Noriko because that would be impossible to do. And what’s extremely crucial to understand is that Chidori can’t force Katsu to love her or feel more than what he already feels for her. That would be wrong.
The only thing Chidori can do is to be honest with Katsu about her own love and see if he can accept it.
Which begs this question: Who is the person that Chidori really loves now?
Is it the old Katsu who used to make her laugh when they were kids together? Or is it the current Katsu who’s gradually changing day by day into a person who can express himself better?
It’s also entirely possible that she could be using the current Katsu to project her memories of the old Katsu on as a means of resuming her love from where it abruptly halted. But if that’s true, that would mean she doesn’t truly love the current Katsu and therefore, this relationship cannot work.
Say that Katsu gets his emotions back. There is absolutely no guarantee that he will be the exact same person he was 10-12 years ago. People change with time and Katsu is definitely no exception after he spent such a long time living in apathy. He would have lost touch on how he used to act with his old emotions. The Kizna System might have made it possible for him to reconnect with them but that’s more in line with receiving a replacement for something you’ve misplaced and can’t find. In other words, the old Katsu, the Katsuhira prior to the child experiment, probably cannot come back. The current one is essentially the new Katsu, who’s more like a baby chick with most of his memories but starting over with a clean slate in shaping his own ego.
So before we accept Chidori’s confession for what it is, let’s make sure that she can love this new Katsu for who he is now and not who he was in the past first. Because if she doesn’t, she has no right to be with Katsu.
Chidori vs. Noriko
You don’t need two people to interact much to sense the tension generating between them. Though in this case, most of the tension is coming from Chidori because she’s the odd one out of the (to put it lightly) unique experience shared by Katsu and Noriko.
And the one acting as a deterrent to this confrontation is not Katsu but rather Noriko’s distance from the group.
Not that it helps much because that won’t stop Katsu from thinking about Noriko (in fact, it just makes him wonder about her even more) and there’s nothing Chidori can do to turn his attention away from her.
Like I said, it’s natural that Chidori would feel jealous about it. She’s loved Katsu forever and wanted to help him go back to his old self but didn’t know how. Then Noriko, a total stranger, shows up with the Kizna Project and Chidori can’t for the world stand it that Katsu is finally changing because of Noriko’s influence. And Katsu and Noriko standing in close proximity with each other (because there’s something there between them) only makes it worse. Again, because Chidori does not know that Katsu and Noriko were also childhood friends. Just in a setting she was never a part of.
There’s very little Chidori can do to turn the tables given the circumstances. There’s no way for her interfere what’s occurring between Katsu and Noriko, no way for her to get in the middle of their affairs. That leaves her with only two cards to play: her long-time friendship with Katsu and her own feelings. But if Katsu doesn’t feel the same, then she loses.
It’s not a matter of whether Katsu likes Noriko or not. It’s a matter of whether Katsu can reciprocate Chidori’s love and all the signs we’ve been seeing so far are saying that no, he can’t. So if or when that happens, Chidori’s going to have to learn to square with the anguish that follows. That Katsu doesn’t see her as more than a friend. That Katsu’s feelings, the feelings that Chidori wants directed at her, may be for someone else.
As for Noriko, the only person of interest for her is Katsu. Chidori is significant because of her participation in the experiment but otherwise, is not Noriko’s concern.
And she doesn’t need to be because Noriko and Chidori have no connection with each other. They just both happen to be invested in the same boy and want something from him for their personal reasons.
Which is why only a one-sided rivalry exists from Chidori’s end and why I doubt they’ll have a confrontation. If this is strictly about love, then the only one blowing steam will be Chidori. Even if Chidori were to come face to face with Noriko, what could she possibly say to her? It’s not like her throwing a tantrum or telling Noriko “don’t take Kacchon away from me!” would make things better and it’s not like Noriko has any obligation to do what Chidori demands. What Noriko does with Katsu is her own business and what Chidori wants from Katsu is Chidori’s own business. They don’t have anything to do with each other beyond their respective relationships with Katsu.
And the deciding factor in their conflict will be Katsu’s choice, which at this point, it’s debatable if he can even make the decision without all his emotions intact. He’d also need the time to readjust to them so rushing him into it won’t help either.
In the end, it’s really the aftermath we’ll have to look at. One where it’s likely that Chidori will have to move on from Katsu, even if Katsu and Noriko don’t become a mutual couple because if he’s never shown any romantic inclinations towards Chidori, then he probably never will. But if he does choose Chidori over Noriko then…that’s it. Chidori will have her happy ending and Noriko will move on from Katsu. Simple as that. *shrug*
Now for Noriko and Katsu’s scenario…
Katsuhira ← ? → Noriko
This is where things get interesting. Katsu’s relationship with Noriko is not only unique because his interactions with her are on totally different wavelengths than the other Kiznaivers’ but also because he is the only one whom Noriko has something to call a relationship with.
In the sphere that contains only the two of them, there’s still so much we don’t know about their story. For Katsu, it would have been the same save for the fact that he did know Noriko from long ago and that they were friends before.
So while Katsu is mulling over what happened since that time, what is it that Noriko wants from Katsu?
In front of the teachers, she claims that everything she does, she does for the sake of the experiment.
“I will never let the Kiznaiver experiment end.”
“I’m going to … ensure the experiment succeeds.””
It’s safe to assume that she’s not lying. However, her goal towards the experiment doesn’t appear to be the same as the Kizna Committee, who wants to foster world peace from this project.
The purpose of this experiment for Noriko is to retrieve what she had lost when she was little. What she had lost in those experiments was the sense of who she was, her “self”.
And like her, Katsu has also been subjected to those same experiments and lost his original “self” in the process, turning him into the emotionless, apathetic boy we were introduced to at the start of the series.
Noriko says that it’s possible for them to find their lost “selves” again by getting back their pain first. But for some reason, she keeps insisting that Katsuhira needs to be the one to do so.
This can suggest several things but the loudest theory is that Noriko probably lost her ability to feel any emotion, including pain, along with her “self”. This can be why she said “I can’t understand” when she thought back to the moment where Katsu expressed his disappointment in her. She can’t understand because she doesn’t have the emotion within her.
Katsu, on the other hand, didn’t lose his capacity to register emotions and the current Kizna System proves that. Katsu confirms that he can feel pain in his heart whenever another Kiznaiver experiences psychological pain. So if Katsu can still feel pain but Noriko can’t, then Katsu has to be the one to take the lead for the both of them.
Now it makes even more sense why Noriko places her hopes on Katsu. Because according to her, the old Katsu expressed very strong feelings towards Noriko when they children. Strong feelings of the “love” kind. And what is linked to the feeling of love? Pain.
If Katsu’s ability to feel pain can return to him, then there’s a chance that his pain can awaken his lost memories and therefore, his feelings for the young Noriko. The Noriko prior to experiment. That Noriko who is the “self” that the current Noriko had lost and is searching for.
That Noriko resides in the feelings that still linger inside Katsu.
That is why Noriko asked Katsu if she exists inside him. If her old “self” still exists inside him.
If Katsu loved her so strongly when they were young together…if he cared for her more than he cared about losing his own “self”, then those feelings wouldn’t disappear. They’d be buried deep inside him even when he was no longer the same person on the outside.
Because love is the strongest emotion after all.
That’s what Noriko is betting on. She’s betting on Katsu’s love for her to get everything back.
And time and time again, we’ve seen Katsu being drawn to Noriko in very specific ways because he senses a familiarity in her. Even if she’s not necessarily the same as her younger self, she is still the Noriko he has a connection with and that’s enough to warrant a reaction out of him.
Katsu only started seeing glimpses of his past when she reintroduced herself to him and they always include a Noriko-lookalike jumping off the high edge. Katsu, who previously never had enough interest to pursue any thoughts he had, suddenly wanted to ask questions when Noriko turned up. Katsu reached out to her to invite her along their trip because he wanted to know if she also wanted to connect with others. Katsu went out of his way to tell Noriko how he felt when she messed with Honoka’s feelings.
For better or for worse, Noriko inspires Katsu to go beyond his state of indifference, something no one else has managed to do first. She sparks his curiosity, makes him want to engage with people and acts as the catalyst to the growth of his feelings and thoughts. These are all telling hints that maybe, just maybe, the old Katsu within him is starting to stir because he unconsciously recognizes her as a person from his childhood. A person who was his friend and whom he may have professed affections for.
Lastly, perhaps the most striking evidence of all, Katsu somehow can always detect when Noriko is nearby. This happened not once but twice. It’s how he found her in the piano room. It’s how he knew she was there in the school with them and what caused him to jump out into the storm to meet her. To protect her from danger.
I don’t think this is just the system at work here. Yes, Noriko revealed that she too received a scar similar to the Kiznaivers’ but that connection is probably only linked to the group of children who underwent the experiments at the same time she did. That group which also included Katsu.
However, even if you feel another Kiznaiver is nearby, does that mean you would immediately rush to where they are? No. For almost everyone, something needs to prompt them to move towards the other Kiznaiver first and that’s knowledge (ex. locating Chidori because she was lost in the forest, go to Honoka’s side to comfort her).
Yet Katsu bolted out the door without so much of an explanation why he needed to get to Noriko. He didn’t even mention her name as he ran out into the rain. He just knew she was there and that he had to find her.
It’s the combination of the Kizna system, the connection that was created between them when they were children and Noriko calling out for Katsu from her heart that caused him to move.
Noriko may be doing this to speed the experiment along but she’s also doing this because she wants to determine something. And only Katsu can give her the answer she’s seeking.
“Do I exist inside you?”
Her words can be interpreted as this:
Does the me from that time still exist within you?
Does the me that I have lost, the me that you used to know back then still exist within you?”
Do you still have feelings for the person I once was? Can I find her within you?
Do you still love her? Do you still love the true me that I cannot find within myself?
This is what Noriko wants to know. This is why she needs the experiment to keep on running. This is why she cannot give up, cannot allow Katsu to give up before he gets back his pain.
Because she cannot understand or feel emotions herself. Not unless she can get back her old self and the only way she can do that is through Katsu and the possibility that he kept those feelings for her, that he kept a piece of her true self from back then.
So she has to coax it out of him. She has to remind Katsu of the time they spent together and what that meant to him. She shows him her scar as proof that they are connected, that they do share something in common from the past.
And she gives him these words…
Which can imply this…
I knew the you from back then. The you that you have lost is right here. I have kept a piece of the true you inside me all this time.
And if we stretch it a bit more, maybe it can even mean this…
I have never forgotten you. The you whom I have loved since then.
Is this plausible? As wacky and unreal as their circumstances are, is it possible for things to turn out like this?
Well, I think so otherwise I would never have been able to write up such a long insight into this pair and still have a lot more left to say.
Now, bear with me because I’m going to get a little contradictory with my next few points.
Noriko said it herself that she’s doing this all for the experiment so there’s a chance that she’s using her words to lead Katsu on. But when I listen to the tone in her voice, I can’t believe that. For one thing, can someone who usually speaks in monotone really pull of something as emotionally charged as what Noriko did here? Listen to it again. There is a certain weight to her voice that she never let anyone hear before.
However, in front of Katsu, when it’s just the two of them alone, something is different. Something has changed Noriko’s stoic aura into one that, if I’m not mistaken, has tiny traces of pain embedded in every sound coming out of her mouth.
And the pain is suddenly present because Katsu is there. Katsu is the one causing Noriko pain.
But wait a minute. Didn’t I just say seconds ago that Noriko lost her ability to feel emotions? So how can she express pain if she cannot feel pain?
Maybe that’s not the case here. Maybe I’m a little off.
Maybe Noriko is, as of this moment, relearning what it feels like to have pain and not realizing it’s happening because she’s so overwhelmed by all the factors that are causing that pain.
Those factors include Katsu being beside her right now, the fact that Katsu doesn’t recall his past with her (not completely anyways) and her own desire to get back her lost “self”.
Remember the key differences between these two. Noriko cannot understand emotions because she cannot feel them but Katsu potentially still can. However, Noriko does remember everything about their time together yet Katsu’s memories only exist in fragments.
Think of what that must be like for Noriko. Noriko who wants to get her old “self” back yet the only one who can help her, the one person who showed strong “love” towards her, doesn’t even know who she is or what their relation was like. But even so, he still tries to reach out to her, giving her hope that not all is lost. He just needs to remember. He just needs to say, “Yes, Nori-chan. I remember. I remember the you from back then. She is right here inside me. She exists inside me.” and then Noriko can be at peace because she’s found what she was looking for.
But of course it’s not going to be that easy. Of course Katsu isn’t going to miraculously recall everything, get back his pain and emotions and go back to being the old Katsu all at once. Even if that were to happen, he couldn’t possibly remain coherent afterwards. His original personality, mannerisms, memories, and feelings from that time along with his relations to the other children and the trauma he must have suffered through that experiment all flooding into him simultaneously? That is way too much for one person to bear. Especially a person who’s only beginning to recover from the effects of the Kizna Project. That same project that took everything away from him in the first place.
So what we need to do is reassess Katsuhira. Not the Katsuhira he once was but the Katsuhira he is now.
Katsuhira is facing many things from multiple directions in this moment. Chidori wants him to go back to being the “old Kacchon” and she also wants him to reply to her feelings. Noriko wants him to get back his pain and remember their past, thereby making him recall how he felt about her old “self” so that she can confirm she still exists somewhere in this world. Notably within him.
He’s also starting to remember things at a faster rate while developing his own emotions and personality. It’s inevitable that those will come to clash because the old him is very different than the new him in the present.
To add to that, Katsu in his current state does not know what he truly wants precisely because he is still incomplete as a person. He began this journey with the small goal of wanting to connect with others. To change one small step at a time. Suddenly, everything hits him like a tidal wave. There are those who want things from him. There are the expectations of the Kizna system that they are expected to meet. There are his new friends to worry about.
In the midst of everyone’s problems, what does Katsuhira want?
Has he reached the stage where he can distinguish his own desires from simply complying to the wishes of others? Or is he still struggling to define those boundaries as he tries to maintain the bonds that he has established so far?
And perhaps the biggest question of all, can he find it within himself to respond to everyone with his own feelings? Is he capable of doing that?
It’s a tall and very confusing order for anyone to take even if you’re a normal person who hasn’t been through what Katsuhira has gone through.
If Katsuhira manages to get a firm hold of himself by the end of the series (however that happens), then maybe it’s possible for things not to end too badly. We can’t say for sure that nobody will break into tears because duh, someone will no doubt cry their heart out, but at least that way, everyone doesn’t have to be stuck in endless agony and learn to move on from it.
One thing’s for sure, though. Katsuhira has no reason to lie to Chidori or Noriko about whether he can give them what they want or not. If he can accept Chidori’s feelings or give Noriko her answer, then he will. If he can’t, then he’ll say he can’t and they can’t do anything more than what they’ve already done to change that.
He is also NOT required to choose between them if he reaches that crossroad. Or at the very least, he shouldn’t have to. Because both Chidori and Noriko are important to him, whether he has romantic feelings for one of them or not. If he can reciprocate Chidori’s love, then he should be free to want to help Noriko in case she needs him. If he rediscovers his own feelings for Noriko, then that shouldn’t mean it should automatically stop him from caring about Chidori. There is no wrong or right to this. There is only the bonds you have with people and how you choose to protect those bonds.
That is all.
Sorry for the length and redundancy.
Just a reminder that I didn’t make this post to add fuel to the ship wars nor drop hate on any of the characters. I love everyone and I want everyone want to be happy. But I’m also realistic and am vehemently against ridiculous ideas of romance such as entitlement, superiority and judging a couple’s worth solely on one aspect of their relationship and disregarding everything else that made it was it is. That’s why I wanted to go into detail for each pair listed here.
There is no such thing as a “perfect” love. These characters have depth and are flawed. That’s what makes their interactions so hard to define into one category. That’s what makes it interesting.
And this post is hardly conclusive. Like not even close.
Four more weeks and we’ll see where I was right and where I was wrong.