Feature the Character that Makes You Cry When /They/ Cry (30 Day Character Challenge, Day 25)

It’s this guy. It’s Tomoya.

I’ve written about the way that Ushio’s death makes me feel in a fair amount of detail, but Tomoya’s cries in her death scene just break my heart. His face, the horror, how strong he tried to be for her and how deeply he felt that loss…

And maybe it’s what his losses mean more so than his tears themselves, but I feel like Tomoya’s traveled such a hard road. He’s lost so much. When he cries, so do I.

His desperation is so incredibly profound, and yet things like his happen every single day. When he mourns Nagisa, his regrets are oceanic. And his feelings about wishing that he’d never entered her life are honest and realistic. He doesn’t know how to go on without her, doesn’t want this life, this unknown future without her…

And now that I’ve saddened you all for one day, I’ll take my leave. Maybe we all should go re-watch this moving, deeply poignant story.

~Shoujo

“Guide me to the world where your soul drifts”—-Supervillain Ships in “Sailor Moon”

We’re on our way back from our anniversary trip to Chicago. As part of that trip, we visited the Field Museum, and at the Field Museum we saw (amongst many other things) a gemological exhibit.

I noticed this:

We’re all thinking the same thing, right? …no?

Well, I mean… maybe it’s just me? I’ll explain in a bit, anyway. They’re pretty, though, right?

My brain 🧠 immediately whiplashed into Sailor Moon Mode (TM), and things only got worse from there:

NOW we’re all thinking the same thing, right? Yeah?

Before I know it, I’m scouring the display for Sailor Moon characters, but that’s neither here nor there. I don’t know why Naoko Takeuchi chose to name her characters (both good and bad) after gems, but it was a smart move. And this whole affair got me thinking about a great villain ship that, at this point, I probably don’t need to introduce.

But how many villains do I actually ship with their fellows and with their non-villain counterparts? I’d never actually considered it before. Thus, this article is born! I had originally planned on including villain ships from multiple franchises here, but instead, I think I’ll focus on Sailor Moon and save the rest for another day. Without further fare, so begins a reflection.

We’ll start with the pairing that began it all—Zoisite and Kunzite. Let me pull a Bernie Sanders and make it very clear; I don’t care about the relationships these characters had in the manga with the inner sailor scouts. I don’t care if this was anime-only. These two are a SHIP 🛳. Like, they have sailed, and they aren’t coming back to port, guys.

Just try and deny it.

They are such a notable, casual approach to same-sex couple depiction, especially for the 90s. They go about themselves, and clearly love each other. And honestly, I don’t like their coupling for that reason specifically, but it’s worth mentioning.

I watched the dub as a kid that turned Zoisite as a woman, and finding out much later that “she” is actually a “he” was shocking at the time. (This is the same dub that turned Neptune and Uranus into cousins instead of lovers sooo no big surprises there.) And even as a kid, it was so clear how much they mattered to each other.

They’re evil, yes, but what are their motivations? What are their actions hinting at that might run deeper than their orders? Where are their hearts? I’m not spoiling anything for those of you who want to go back and take a refresher course in their romance. I mean, hey, I’m going to do so once Husband and I get home today. Because I need a good cry today, right?

I cried. I totally cried.

I mean, “Zoisite, guide me to the world where your soul drifts” ???? True love, guys.

The original Sailor Moon Anime was surprisingly good at tugging the heartstrings. We’ll touch more on that with our next half-villain couple: Molly (or “Naru”) and Nephrite.

Okay, I know Molly is like 14, so for my sanity, Nephrite is a teenager. That’s how it is. He’s a teen. I can’t find anywhere it gives him a specific age, and it makes sense that he would be, so it’s official. He is.

Molly is totally into the guys, but Again, she’s a teenage girl, and it really isn’t any surprise. (I mean, I was a teenage girl once. I get it.) What’s most interesting about this ship is Nephrite’s particular (and fairly short) redemption arc.

Until the very end, he’s well-and-truly evil while at the same time obviously acting on his feelings for Molly. Does he use her to get to Sailor Moon? Yes. Does he stop his attack on Sailor Moon to run to Molly’s aid when she’s in trouble (after having SENSED as much just from Molly’s thoughts because he’s so in tune with her)? Also yes! He himself doesn’t understand his feelings for her, and he denies them to his fellows, yet he saves her. He laughs with her. He protects her (spoiler because I HAVE TO) at the cost of his own life.

And Nephrite’s first experience with love brings this ship home to harbor in the saddest way…

It made my heart hurt.

Even though this post founds its inspiration and beginnings in Sailor Moon, my reflection can’t end there. I’m going to have to be more observant about the villains I ship. I think I’ll put out a headcannon post in the near future as well.

What really deserves a look are the general relationships in Sailor Moon that proved tragic. Because there are a lot of them. (Saphir and Demande, I’m looking at you.)

Did these ships break you like they broke me? Let me know in the comments below! And, you know, if you find any well-written, clean fanfics, lemme know about those too? :p

Love, Shoujo 🌸

Declines and Swells (a ficlet based on “Hakuouki” media) —HaraChi

Author’s Note: Hakuouki is historically based, and as such one might look to history as a vague representation of what’s to come. Is history a spoiler for canonical deaths? You tell me. I will say that this story is canonically based and does includes a major character death. I cannot say who this warning regards, nor in which piece of media it finds purchase.

Please know this much before reading, that I might avoid the accusation of unannounced plot spoilers. ❤ This fic is based on information taken from the localized games, the original anime series, and the theatrical movies. It is based around one of my very favorite characters…

And now, without further preamble, onto the ficlet.


He finds it almost bittersweet as he declines against the tree.

“Reclines,” he’d like to think, not “declines,” but he isn’t ignorant; he knows he’s dying. If Shiranui’s face and unusually calm demeanor aren’t anything to go by, Harada is still speaking, but his words are threaded by pain, death’s bondage wrapped around his torso in false homage to the bandages he wore so long ago.

He hopes it appears splendid, this unexpected end.

Harada’s been a warrior far long enough to know the smell of it, to feel it as blood pools beneath his fingers. And when Shiranui says “it’s over,” they both know that he means far more than the battle just at hand…

“I should visit his grave sometime,” is a sentiment of enormous accident, and Shiranui’s not speaking of Takasugi anymore.

Harada didn’t ask for these things, though he feels he’d give them if their situations were reversed. He didn’t ask for Kyo’s respect. And he’s struggling now to keep himself together. He’s blinking because he knows what’s coming—darkness, an end to all the fuss he couldn’t bring himself to dream.

That potential domesticity. Three children playing in the yard and the swell of another on the way. He can see it, you know, see her—her hands tangled in his hair as he teases her about the laundry, walking his brood through the stalls downtown and chuckling as she worries over them…

But oh, haha, these things aren’t real. Funny how one’s mind plays tricks as the lack of light grows dimmer.

Shiranui asks him what he’ll do next, a last request guised in friendly conversation, so he thinks of Shinpachi, that lug. He’s waiting for him, after all, in Aizu. And with Chizuru taken care of by their Demon Vice Commander—now Commander?—he really only has one more concern; someone must tell his friend what’s been done this night.

They say it feels like floating, but it’s really more like drifting off. At the least, he thinks, it is truly only bittersweet.

After all, Kodo no longer plagues this world, plagues her.

And he would have died for that gentle woman from the word “go.”


~Shoujo

The Saddest Anime Death (30 Day Anime Challenge, Day 25)

*necessary spoilers (for Clannad and Hakuouki) below*

I’ve mentioned it before, but there are different portrayals of death.

Some deaths make you mourn for those left behind, aching and alone. These are the deaths like those of Clannad, in which I felt for the main character, Tomoya, as he struggled through life after loosing his young wife only to claw himself out of depression before loosing his five-year-old daughter to the same illness. He was left alone, sobbing on a snowy street holding innocent Ushio’s small, lifeless body.

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“Did we…make it? Are we on the train, Dad?”

I chose this scene for the “The Saddest Anime Scene (30 Day Anime Challenge, Day 12)” post because that’s what I felt appropriate at the time. The deaths themselves were truly tragic, and I bawled over that. How could I not sob over the death of a five-year-old child? However, in the midst of all this I was–perhaps even above all?–mourning for Tomoya, with whom I could empathize, who lost his wife and was now loosing his baby girl. That cornucopia of emotion is why the scene itself was rated as “most sad.”

Other deaths leaving you mourning the victim. When you cry, the tears are solely for the deceased. In the initial moment, for whatever reason it may be, these deaths impact you and make you cling to that character even harder, mourning their loss of life perhaps without even considering another character’s pain. These are the deaths like those in Hakuouki. There are two that come to mind when I consider the saddest anime death and yet…

I didn’t struggle when it came to this decision, and I think that as much is because, when I considered the back story of the characters in question, he who lived the most tragic life also met the most tragic end. I cried over the deaths of both characters, but for the saddest anime death, I chose the individual’s who could almost as easily had me sobbing over his life.

Okita Souji died the saddest anime death.

To understand his death, however, one must first understand how he lived, and I know that I won’t do his story justice. I think that Kondo-san explains Okita’s circumstances best.

But Souji…Souji has had it rough.

When we was left in the care of my dojo, he was still only nine years old. He was born into a samurai family, but he lost his parents when he was still young. His big sister, Mitsu-san, raised him in his parents’ stead, but apparently life was hard for them, so…

The child still hadn’t reached the age of ten, but he had to leave his family and start life in my dojo. Although he never said it outright, he must have been lonely.

Souji stayed with us under the pretext of being a live-in student, but in actuality he was treated more like a servant.

-Kondo, Hakuouki Reimeiroku, Ep. 4

Okita Souji grows up in Kondo’s family’s dojo after the death of his parents. Souji’s sister, Mitsu, attempts to maintain contact for a while, but eventually gets married and falls out of touch. Souji has no contact with his only living relative, and he is mercilessly beaten by the other, older dojo students. He hardens himself. Kondo-san stands up for Souji and cares for him. He tries to insist that Souji is special. When Souji laments being left behind by his sister, Kondo responds, “Souji, it is not as though Mitsu-san abandoned you. Who on Earth could ever abandon you, my boy?” He later continues…

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“I’m sure it must be hard living away from your sister, but nothing in this world happens without a purpose. I am sure that there must be a reason that you were left in our care, and whatever it is, I’m glad of it, son.”

-Kondo, Hakuouki Reimeiroku, Ep. 4

Kondo was the only one who never called him pitiable, Souji says. Even though young Souji claims Kondo a nuisance for the latter’s attempts to intervene on the his behalf, Souji truly views Kondo as someone almost otherworldly in his goodness. There was a time when the whole world seemed against one little boy and nothing made sense, but Kondo was a ray of kindness in his life. Souji was hardened, and grew to be quite bloodthirsty through events that had and would transpire, but more than anything, Souji–inside his murderous exterior–is still that wounded little boy.

When Souji finally takes Kondo’s words to heart, he makes what would come to be a critical decision.

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There must be a reason why these things happened. That’s what you told me, Kondo-san. That’s what you always said. I think I know what that reason is now. I came here for you, Kondo-san; I came to be with you. I came here to become much, much stronger.

-Okita Souji, Hakuouki Reimeiroku, Ep. 4

Souji dedicates his entire life to Kondo. And if you’ve seen the show, you know the road down which his dedication leads. His mental state has fallen into a sort of dangerous “condition” as Hijikata and Kondo would view it, to say nothing of his physical body. Hell, the Shinsengumi leadership even want to send him home to Edo, at one point. These hardened men cry over Souji’s first kill, knowing the blood lust and manipulation from which it stemmed.


Moving into the “present,” as it were–or, rather, the time in which our Shinsengumi have formed and the first two seasons take place–Okita has gown into himself as we know him in the series. He’s teasing, murderous, and strangely fragile. He’s unforgiving, loyal, dedicated, and…

…he sees no worth in his life beyond his ability to be a sword for Kondo-san. When he is diagnosed with tuberculosis, he forsakes any sort of life-prolonging treatment (although the disease at this time would–most likely–be ultimately fatal in any case) in order to stay by Kondo-san’s side.

Of course, being so close to Kondo-san would put him on a path parallel to Kondo’s right-hand man, Vice Commander Toshizo Hijikata.


Okita has a strained relationship with with Hijikata, and the same can be said in reverse. Calling on Kondo-san’s wisdom again, I quote:

Toshi is deeply worried about Soji was well, but he’s rather inept.

-Kondo-san, Hakuouki Reimeiroku, Ep. 4

Okita deeply resents Hijikata for taking up Kondo-san’s attention, and Hijikata grows frustrated with Okita’s childishness and temperamental impulsiveness . Yet, at the same time, they protect each other and care about each other even if it’s only grudgingly at times. The truth of the matter is, regardless of how much Okita may want to deny it, he knows that Hijikata’s not a bad guy; Okita is simply jealous of anyone else being that close to his mentor. Naturally, Hijikata watched Okita grow up, and he cares about his annoying subordinate more than one might initially realize.

When Hijikata follows Kondo-san’s order and leaves his Commander behind to be killed, he agonizes heartrendingly. And when the deathly ill Okita discovers what has occurred, he is livid. How, how, how could Hijikata leave Kondo-san behind to be killed!? How could he save himself at Kondo-san’s expense like that?!

And even though Okita can’t bring hiself to forgive Hijikata, once again…

…inside, Okita knows that his perception of the situation isn’t quite straight on; he knows he lacks knowledge of the circumstances, yet it simply doesn’t matter. Okita would be unable to forgive any other person who acted as Hijikata did under those circumstances, and I think in many ways he would have been literally murderous toward anyone else in Hijikata’s place. It is a testament to his relationship with the Vice Commander and self-awareness that Okita did not attempt to kill him at his first opportunity.

In the end, he still asks Chizuru to look after Hijikata-san in his stead.

Aside from all that, when Okita finds out that a gravely injured Hijikata is in danger, he gives up what little remains of his life and defends the town in which he and Chizuru are hiding out. He meets his fate knowingly and without hesitation to protect the one person who could carry on Kondo’s Shinsengumi vision, the one man he had left from his childhood.

Souji is gone in a rush of flame, alone with corpses in his final moments.




 

And then Hijikata finds his sword.

 

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I remember watching Souji’s final fight for the first time, and the discovery of his sword. I recall the very moment that Souji’s death hit me, and I remember sobbing, warm tears running down my face. Without any hesitation, my thoughts went to him when I considered which anime death I find most heartbreaking.

Okita Souji died as he lived–as a sword, and by the sword.

 

Do you agree?

Signing off,

Shoujo Thoughts

The Saddest Anime Scene (30 Day Anime Challenge, Day 12)

I’m going to get a little personal in this post, as the subject at hand impacted me greatly.

As I’ll come to explain in my “The Saddest Anime Death (30 Day Anime Challenge, Day 25)” post, death can be portrayed in multiple ways. These differences made possible my determination regarding which moment I should discuss on which day of the challenge (saddest scene vs saddest death), as both moments do involve death in large ways.

This scene was chosen as my saddest because, aside from mourning a character’s loss of life (and truly, I did), I also–perhaps even more so–found myself mourning for the man left behind. I mourned for he who had lost so much but struggled out of depression, only for life to stab a knife into his gut once again.

I mourned for Tomoya.

*Clannad spoilers are contained throughout; you have been warned.*


I know that everyone mentions Clannad. The tears of Clannad, the “feels” of Clannad. I understand the reasoning. Tomoya looses everything in a way that is so entirely possible that it gives one pause to consider their own relationships and what loosing them might mean.

Tomoya is a boy who grew up alone. His mother has passed on and the relationship between he and his father is…strained. One day on the way to school, he meets Nagisa, and it is through her influence that everything changes for him in ways totally unexpected. She weaves her way into the tapestry of this life so deeply that, when one day her string is cut, Tomoya unravels.

They’ve begun their life together, and received the happy news. Nagisa is so determined to have a healthy baby. More than anything else, this little family of hers is what she wants, and she is willing to give up everything for their time with Ushio–up to and including her own life. She’s worried, but she won’t sacrifice her baby or her dream. She won’t live the rest of her life afraid because she’s sick.

When she dies, I cry, but I understand that she accepted the consequences of bringing Ushio into the world, and I don’t doubt for one second that, if knowing this would be the outcome, she wouldn’t change a single thing. This is the depth of Nagisa’s love.

Tomoya is left behind her, left with this newborn daughter he agreed to conceive because of Nagisa’s desires. He loves Ushio, but if he had known that her birth would result in this outcome, he would never have agreed to start a family. Nagisa was all he ever really wanted, and suddenly she’s gone, giving life to their child. Tomoya is bereft; he can’t function, he can’t think. He can’t raise a daughter. His grief is consuming.

When, after five long years, Tomoya manages to claw his way out of depression–to clearly see the child who needs him and his wife within that beautiful child–he only is given a limited time with her before she develops the same illness that weakened her mother to the point of danger.

This time, it’s Tomoya’s turn to be strong, to hold on when everything is slipping away from him. As Akio says, “You’re the dad this time.” I also think this is a testament to the strength of parents. Nagisa’s parents put aside their overwhelming grief for their daughter to do the only thing they could for her in death–care for Ushio. Tomoya has grown. He is finally a father now. It’s his turn to be the pillar of strength for his own child.

When I was 20, should I have been in love and married, I don’t know that I could have put aside my grief and functioned, even for the sake of my child. I think that I myself was still too much of a child (and I don’t mean that derogatorily at all) to do something like that. I understand Tomoya’s shut down completely. It’s heartbreaking and horrible to witness (especially in the movie, which touches more deeply upon Tomoya’s depression).

Even now, I–myself being very nearly Tomoya’s age as he cares for his daughter–can only hope that I would have the strength to be the pillar my child needed in a situation like that. I hate to even consider the possibility of that necessity. I don’t have a child, but I have a husband who I love very much, and imagining a life without him is so incredibly painful. I can’t consider how strong one must be to loose someone like that.

It all comes to a head when Nagisa’s illness claims the life of one more, Tomoya’s innocent little girl.

Da…Daddy?

I’m right here. What is it?

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Did we…make it? Are we on the train yet?

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…Yeah, we made it on the train.

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It’s dark. Is it night?

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It sure is. It’s getting late.

Oh… Daddy?

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Mm?

I love you.

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Yeah, Daddy loves you too, Ushio, very much.

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There is something else about this scene that really gets to me. I’m at the age now where I could easily be Tomoya. If I had met my husband earlier, if we had a child young as they did, I could be in his position, holding my five year old and watching her slip away. The further I venture into adulthood, the more maternal I get. The horror of helplessly loosing my baby like that… It makes my stomach turn and just thinking about it now, I’m honestly crying.

Nagisa died tragically. She made a choice full of love for a family that she’d never fully experience, and yet she was an adult and she understood her decisions.

Ushio was just a small child, a little baby. She had no idea what was happening. She had no choices. You know she must be scared. Tomoya had to hold it all together as he watched her become more and more ill. He held his little daughter as she died.

At this moment, Tomoya lost everyone he held most dear. His wife, and now his child. For this reason, this culmination…

Ushio’s death is the saddest anime scene.

 

I know there are differences between the TV show and the movie. I liked the execution of one or the other in various respects, but I won’t get into that here. Instead, I’ll leave you with this and hope it finds you well.

 

-Shoujothoughts