Saturday, September 25, 2010

The School's Trees: Top Ten Favorite Characters, #10-Fuko


Fuko Ibuki: the childish character. She is stubborn, energetic, and yet, still very innocent. All the characteristics of a child, right? Even though Fuko resembles a new middle school student, she was actually meant to be attending high school for her first year. However, on her very first day of high school, she got in to a terrible car accident. Due to this, Fuko entered a state of deep sleep, while her sister, Kouko, waited for her to wake up.

Even still, Fuko has willpower. In fact her willpower was so strong that when her physical body was useless, she found a way to project her spirit for others to see and interact with her. You better believe Fuko put her whole heart in doing that. But what was her reason? It was for the happiness of others, specifically her sister, who, up to that point, had spent the majority of her time sitting and waiting for the day Fuko would wake. Kouko had told her unconscious sister that she wanted to get married to Yusuko Yoshino, and Fuko wanted her to be happy. Fuko knew that she couldn’t interact with her sister in anyway, so in her unconscious state, she found a way to make her sister happy. Fuko’s spirit was discovered by a couple of students, Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa, who befriended Fuko and decided to help her. Together, the three distributed wooden starfish throughout the high school where Kouko had once been a teacher, inviting the students of the school to attend Kouko’s wedding, regardless of whether they had known Kouko or not. Fuko’s will had brought her to carrying out a difficult task such as confronting every individual of a school, even when knowing nobody at the school. Then came the point where Kouko was unsure that she would even get married. The stress of having her younger sister in the hospital was overwhelming, and she didn’t know if she should pursue her own happiness and marry Yusuke. In this urgent situation, Fuko knew she had to continue working hard, and eventually she had not only personally handed a wooden starfish to nearly everybody at the high school, but also touched them in a way that none of them could even comprehend. As the wedding approached, problems began to occur. Fuko was beginning to be forgotten. This issue grew until nobody in the school, with the exceptions of Tomoya and Nagisa, could remember or even see Fuko. Though she had doubted that she should before, Kouko still had her wedding, and miraculously, even though nobody knew who Fuko was, everybody Fuko had touched was compelled to show up to Kouko’s wedding. Fuko’s emotions and her willpower had been planted deep inside the hearts of every single person. Fuko saw that her mission had been accomplished and after leaving her final contribution of some encouraging words and a wooden starfish to her sister, her spirit faded back in to her sleeping body.

The whole complex situation shows that Fuko is stubborn. It’s not necessarily a bad kind of stubborn, even though it can be, like when Fuko can’t bring herself to accept sensible reasoning. It’s more of a determined sort of stubborn. Fuko shows that she is unwilling to yield; she will do anything and everything she can to make her sister happy, and she /does/ do everything she can. Could you confront an entire school of strangers one by one? Even when Tomoya introduced the point to Fuko that nobody would know Kouko, she still didn’t give up. She wouldn’t even let the physical forces of the universe tell her that she was bound to a bed in sleep. She broke free of her body and did what she felt she had to do.

Fuko is that person that everybody wants as their little sister. However, it’s not for the same types of reasons you would want a little sister like Mei Sunohara. Where Mei is mature and responsible, Fuko is more immature and child-like. In this way, though, Fuko has a character of dependence. She relies on others, people more responsible and open than herself. Fuko was shown to be a shy, lone character. She had no friends, and she was only open with her sister. When Fuko had people to depend on (Kouko, Tomoya, Nagisa), she could open up to these people and show her true colors. When Tomoya and Nagisa met Fuko, they connected with her in a way that they could not have connected with any other character. They had found someone else who depended on them as reliable, individual people. Tomoya was known to be a lazy person, and probably nobody really depended on his actions. Nagisa was still a fragile being, unable to effectively present herself to other people. That’s where Fuko was able to make things better. She was the dependent character who needed both Tomoya and Nagisa, and they were the ones who needed such a dependent character. Fuko was mistaken as Tomoya’s younger sibling at one point in her arc. In essence, Fuko /was/ Tomoya’s and Nagisa’s younger sister. She relied on them even when her childish nature may have limited her actions.

In the end, Fuko was like a mark that stained everybody’s hearts. Don’t take that the wrong way, though. Fuko was definitely a sort of colorful, beautiful mark left behind. Perhaps a sort of rainbow tie dye pattern. Though Fuko was forgotten by everybody she had been close to, she had left behind traces of herself and the actions she carried out. Fuko would never be truly erased from their hearts. There would always be a connection between Fuko and those who had interacted with her. These connections Fuko made would prove to be strong when later Fuko would appear to those she had known in multiple instances of comical mischievousness, for lack of a better term. One of the connections would prove to be even stronger than any other. The connection Fuko had with Tomoya was so powerful that later when Fuko awoke from her years of slumbering, they met once again, even though neither remembered the journey they had once shared with each other.

Overall, Fuko is a stubborn, shy, somewhat overwhelming character, but she is also a very caring, determined one. In the end, we know Fuko to be just like any other character of 
Clannad. She is an individual with her own unique characteristics and contributions to the series. Like Tomoya stated at one point:
“She’s a little strange, but she’s a normal girl no matter how you look at her.”


Fuko is one of those characters that always makes me happy. I must admit, right off the bat, that I am a staunch member of the Starfish Legion. "Hurry Starfish" is one of my favorite songs in Clannad. At the same time, she plays a unique and important role in the series beyond providing comic relief. Like Nathan's mentioned, she serves as essentially a representation of Tomoya's future, which comes around in a very real way by the end of the series.

Why do I love Fuko? It's probably because of her combination of sweet, innocent determination and her particularly fussy insistence on her own maturity, and also her plans. It's her love for her sister, and her stubborn insistence on never backing down from her goal. It's her heart of a child, who doesn't care that bad things happen in the world; she just wants her sister to be happy.

I think Fuko, like most characters, shows the two important sides of Clannad: humor and drama. Fuko’s arc is definitely heavy on humor, with her frequent trances, her over-the-top fervor for starfish, and the “Fuko Master” moments. But it doesn’t skimp on the drama: I’ve heard of multiple people who cried at the end of her arc. The bittersweet ending is extremely powerful: she was able to accomplish her goal of creating a mob of people at her sister’s wedding, yet in the end she disappears. As I believe Sean mentioned in his post, Fuko’s story represents the fragility of human life (even though the definition of Fuko’s spirit as “alive” would involve interesting metaphysical inquisition); at the very least, it shows the transience of so many things in life, such as friendships (which is a sobering, but true, thought). Overall then, I find Fuko a very humorous character (in all her appearances, including the “Fuko Ninja” moments and her scenes in After Story), but also one with bittersweet drama as well.

Fuko was, always has been, and always will be my favorite female non-Ushio anime character. What's not to like, honestly? She's NUTS. She's sane. She's childish. She has the most mature point of view I've ever seen. She's the most determined person ever. And yet the most easily distracted. She's a paradox unto herself, something that demands that I figure her out, and yet I can't. Nor do I want to. Which is fortunate, otherwise I'd go as insane as Fuko.

However, there's another side to the madness that is my love for Fuko: she reminds me of my little sister. Yes, there is someone who acts even remotely like Fuko out there, waiting to inflict her insanity on you. No, she won't smother you with starfish, but she will destroy your puny mind with her anti-logic that's designed to kill all those braincells you hold dear. Maybe that's why I like Fuko so much: she reminds me a lot of my family life: quirky, insane, and yet deadly serious in a package that's too cute, adorable, and deadly to ignore. Or maybe not, I can never be too sure.

Fuko is like no other character I have known.  She is energetic, entertaining, focused, caring, blunt, and completely tactless.  I feel like she's my younger sister, my friend, and a stranger I only half know.  I like her because she is so completely and wholly herself.  When I first began watching Clannad, I was watching anime for the first time, and in all truth, I was completely unsure of what to make of Fuko.  She was just another one of those crazy, somewhat over-done anime characters that left me half entertained and half skeptical.  I couldn't decide if I liked her or if she drove me crazy.  As I kept watching, I realized that the truth was, I liked her because she did drive a part of me crazy.  I liked her stubbornness and her childishness, and I liked them because they strengthened the deeper part of her character, her love and loyalty for those who were dear to her.  She is Fuko.  What more can be said?

A special thanks to those who agreed to work on this ten week long project with me. I'm honored by your love for the show and your willingness to give your time. And many thanks to those of you who continue to read! I'm glad to have people who're willing to read, and I promise that we'll putting up content for as long as it's readable and meaningful.

Oh, and once again, REVEL in Taylor's awesomeness. That video was a complete surprise!

Be ready for next week, as we cover #9: Sanae Furukawa!