Breaking Free From One’s Dark Side With Love in “Kare Kano”

Hello! Arria here for my turn in this month’s blog tour. Thank you so much for supporting our monthly OWLS blog tours. For this September, we are keeping the conversation alive about the serious issues of mental illness, depression, and suicide. Don’t forget to check out “Themes of PTSD and Psychosis in School-Live!” by Rai (Rai’s Anime Blog).


“Treasure”

There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that.

For this month’s topic, we will be exploring pop culture characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide. We will be discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they are in.

Kare Kano (彼氏彼女の事情 / Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou / His and Her Circumstances) is a shoujo manga series by Tsuda Masami (津田 雅美). An anime adaptation aired from 1998 to 1999.

The Perfect Guy

Arima Souichirou, the male lead, is a model student: handsome, smart, athletic, and popular. He even becomes a national champion in kendo. To many, Souichirou is a perfect guy.

The Terrified Child Underneath

Beneath his seeming perfection lies a dark and hurt being. A childhood trauma warps his love for Yukino (the female lead). He’s extremely possessive and jealous of Yukino’s other friends and acquaintances. He wants to be her everything.

Souichirou’s childhood trauma originates from being abused by his own mother. His mother is a gold digger and social climber, only bearing him because Souichirou’s father is a son of a wealthy family. When she discovers that Souichirou’s father is only an illegitimate son and therefore could not inherit, she takes her anger on their child. She physically, verbally and emotionally abuses her own son. His father eventually finds him in a near-death state and rescues him. His aunt and uncle raise him like their own son instead. Because of his uncle and aunt’s kindness and generosity, he is grateful to them and wants to repay them by fulfilling all of their expectations of him. Even so, he is still ostracized by their other relatives because he is the son of the family’s disgrace—the illegitimate son and the gold digger.

The Dark Side

This trauma surfaces in his insecurity of his place in Yukino’s heart and life. He’s frightened that she would someday abandon him like his irresponsible biological parents. His needy love, not to mention the fear of turning out “bad” like his parents and ostracized because of it, leads him into a destructive path. His dark side manifests. He becomes cold and cruel when angry, even vengeful.

His dark side becomes the most extreme when he becomes furious with Yukino. He grabs her and have sex with her at the school library. Of course, Yukino is frightened by Souichirou’s fury and intensity, but she doesn’t fight him. Afterwards, however, Souichirou believes that he raped her and plunges into despair.

Yukino insists that Souichirou didn’t rape her, that she was a consenting participant in the act. His guilt does not only consist of the “rape” itself, but also the realization that his dark past is affecting, even destroying, his relationship with Yukino. He wants to change himself and to become a better lover to Yukino, but he lacks confidence in himself. He is full of fear and insecurities.

Treasured and Healed by Love

Eventually, Yukino persuades him to believe in the strength of her love for him. Even if he can’t trust in himself, he can trust in her. He gradually accepts his dark past as part of himself. It’s something that he can never change, but can prevent from controlling his present self and his relationships, especially with Yukino. In time, he is able to manage his “dark side” and stop being so unreasonably jealous and possessive.

Both Souichirou and Yukino find sanctuary in each other’s love. Yukino’s love gives him the power to heal the festering wounds of his childhood trauma. Her love turns these wounds into scars which remind him of the past, but would no longer have the power to hurt him. They treasure each other, accepting and loving each other for who they are, including their ugly and dark sides.

Don’t Let the Past Rule You

The past is a vital part of us, whether we like it or not. It contains our best and happiest memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives. On the other hand, it also contains some of our darkest secrets and most frightening trauma. As demonstrated in Kare Kano, it is not easy to liberate ourselves from bad memories, especially if they’re in the same or greater magnitude as Souichirou’s abuse by his mother, but it can be done.

Kare Kano demonstrates that we can never erase the past, but we can learn how to live in the present without being chained and controlled by it. Souichirou overcomes his childhood trauma and its resulting insecurities with the help of Yukino’s love. I’m sure that if we just open our eyes, we can find our own Yukino whom we can trust and who will love and accept us for who we are.

Child abuse, trauma, and depression are some of the issues Kare Kano tackles. All of these are very serious issues that are actually happening in our society. Let’s keep the conversation going and spread the love. You never know. Your open ear and kind words might help someone someday.


Thank you for reading my tour post. Moonid (Random Garage) is coming up next this Monday, so please tune in. I also invite you to check out all the other participants of this blog tour. For the full schedule of our September “Treasure” Blog Tour, click here.

OWLS Give-away!!!

We are giving away a copy of the book Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green, a graphic memoir of eating disorders, abuse & recovery. Enter our give-away content and win a copy HERE!!!

If you have any questions about our group Otaku Warriors for Liberty & Self-Respect (OWLS) or are interested in joining us as a member, please visit our official blog. You can also find us onTwitter and Facebook. We welcome new, committed members.

Free to be ME,
Arria (OWLS Secretary)


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11 thoughts on “Breaking Free From One’s Dark Side With Love in “Kare Kano””

  1. I enjoyed reading this — thanks for sharing it! I appreciated its hopeful tone.

    That’s why I hesitate to make this comment , but my experience differs from your in one regard.

    You said, “I’m sure that if we just open our eyes, we can find our own Yukino whom we can trust and who will love and accept us for who we are.” I think your point is that sometimes we get in our own way, and if we just widen our perception, we might find a source of love that we didn’t think possible before.

    That’s a noble sentiment!

    But here’s where I have to say that I’ve seen situations, particularly among those who are disabled, where this just isn’t possible. There are some wonderful programs that try to help by transporting people to social events, or even to the mall — but they’re not enough. Technology like the internet can help, too, but unfortunately, those who need it the most are often not in a position to afford access. And again, there are programs that can help, but in my experience, they’re not enough.

    An individual’s willingness to “open their eyes” can be thwarted by circumstance. And unless we address those circumstances, there’s no way for them to make headway.

    I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean to imply that those who live in isolation are at fault for not opening their eyes. I think you were trying to express a positive, hopeful perspective. And I like that! But it’s only if we maintain an awareness that there are those who don’t have these opportunities that we might affect the system. In other words, if we take action to support local or regional efforts to help these folks get out or obtain access, then they’ll be able to take the initiative.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as too cynical! If it does, I apologize.

    Thanks again for sharing your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true. Thanks for pointing that out. My post may be too simplistic and too optimistic especially for those who are actually suffering this kind of problems because I wanted it to be easy to read and not too complicated. And reading your comment, I have the thought that for persons who have no disabilities, we may think that the society we’re living in (depends on the country) is doing enough for the people with disabilities, especially whenever we hear the government talking about increasing budget for this program or that program. But now that I think of it, we don’t really know if these programs are enough. My birth country is the Philippines, and I’m telling you that programs for persons with disabilities are not very common there. If there are programs, they’re only available to some places but not in others. So when I moved here in Canada and saw all of these programs, I was amazed and impressed. Whenever I talk about them to people I know in the Philippines, they wish that we have programs like this there. Then I hear the program recipients here in Canada saying that these programs are not enough.

      Now I’m not saying that people should stop complaining. On the contrary, fighting for more access is something I support because this brings change and progress. That’s why I’m a member of OWLS. However, observing the situations here in Canada and the Philippines, I can’t help but notice the huge gap in attitudes. I understand both because I’m from both societies.

      Anyway, thank you for pointing out such a thought-provoking perspective. I hope I’ll have the chance to write about this in another OWLS post and dig deeper about this issue. Cheers!

      Anyway,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was thinking about rereading this recently. I don’t think I ever reread it after completing it the first time since I didn’t like how dark and Arima-focused it became. (And how chill was everyone about the ending? Wow!) Of course, I also liked the anime, which evidently the original author didn’t.

    But I agree completely that there are far too many people in real life whose less-than-ideal pasts are affecting their current relationships. It’s a subject more manga need to touch on. (Well, besides the “lonely rich boy/girl whose parents are never around” trope.) And there should be no shame in admitting you feel lost and lonely. Don’t let it boil over like Arima. A great reminder for us all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually have only read the manga. I haven’t watched the anime yet. I know what you mean. Kare Kano is not immune with the cringy shoujo genre cliches. However, I actually liked how dark Arima became. It gives more depth to his personality. Although sometimes I can’t help but think that it’s too dark for a boy his age. But what do we know? Trauma is something that any age could experience.

      Oh! I didn’t know that. That’ interesting that the original author didn’t like the anime. Why? Did it do its own thing and changed things from the manga?

      Thanks for dropping by. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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