Friday, October 29, 2010

Top Ten Characters, #5-Kyou

Kyou, the girl who sends books flying through the air like missiles flying from a cannon.  The one who hits first and asks questions later.  On the surface, this girl is everything she appears to be.  She's tough.  She's strong, and she's independent.  She's Kyou, and we know her within the first minute of meeting her – or so we think.  Or so I thought.  As I went through and watched Clannad, I started to get little glimpses, little hints of something more, of what was there beyond Kyou's surface.  Kyou, the girl who puts others above herself time and time again.  Kyou, fiercefully loyal.  Kyou, the girl who never shows what she is feeling or what's inside because what others need is more important.  Like she does when doing anything else, when she loves, she loves with everything in her, and her love is selfless.  This is why I like Kyou.  Regardless of whether or not her love and loyalty are perfect, it is still there and she fights for it.   
Heh...well, I must say that from the time this list developed to the time this post came up, my own view and attitude regarding Kyou has changed rather subtly. There's times I love her, times I can't stand her, and times I pity her, as well as times I can admire her in some regard. She's still not a massive top character for me, but I've been learning to like some things about her.

Kyou is an interesting character. The first thing you notice about her is her violent tendencies. Oddly enough, violence seems to be the initial impression that her "nemesis" Tomoyo gives as well. I find it appropriate, though, because there's a link of sorts between these two characters. I'll go into it more in detail, but suffice it to say that though they seem to be opposites, there's a good bit of common ground between them, which is why they come into conflict over the course of the series.

That violence is actually something I admire about her, or points to something I admire about her. Kyou is a hothead. She doesn't do it to cause trouble or for attention, though. Her first appearance sums it up pretty well, I think. Kyou is a protector. There are people, ideals, and things that she cares very strongly about, and she'll fight to the death to protect them.

Most of Kyou's conflict comes when the things to be protected are themselves in conflict, when she has to choose. She runs into this most resoundingly in the second half of the first season of Clannad, where matters just get...complicated. Kyou cares about Tomoya. She also cares about her sister Ryou. Knowing that Ryou cares about Tomoya, she doesn't want to hurt Ryou, because she cares about her. So, we see her struggling back and forth between the two strong things she cares about. Added into this is the weird, semi-manipulative way that Kyou goes about introducing Ryou to Tomoya. There's parts of me that are convinced that, based on how this happens, Kyou (possibly subconsciously) is projecting her own desire to be with Tomoya onto the potential (and, in the Another World arc, actual-ish) relationship of Ryou and Tomoya.

Therein lies the rub of why I hate her at the same time I love her. She's got that mean drama queen streak in her, manipulative and vindictive and more than a little selfish. She's quite jealous, and passionately so (due to her temperament), and most of the trouble she winds up in comes out because of her own actions. There's also hints that she expects other people to act the same way, as shown by her encounter with Tomoyo, where Sakagami-san flat-out calls her out on her unadmitted attraction to Tomoya. She wasn't expecting Tomoyo to so bluntly and carelessly stumble on her carefully guarded secret, and acted accordingly.

All told, though, I feel that it's the Another World: Kyou arc which gives her the most sympathetic portrayal, intentionally so. Sure, it's drama, because (like I said) Kyou is a drama queen. At the same time, we see that she's not really enjoying the drama. Yes, she's making things difficult and blowing them out of proportion, but it's only because she's trying desperately to manipulate the situation to a point where she can let go and be satisfied. I can understand her struggle, so I pity her. I may not agree with her methods, but I agree with her heart.

And that, in the end, is why I can see her as a worthy character.

"Erase it from your mind!"
The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of Kyou is pain and suffering, often on the part of Sunohara, although Tomoya takes some hits. Her humorous temper is what her character revolves around, at least in my mind. She's another one of the characters I would not put this far up on the list. Personally, I've never found her to that appealing of a character: she's great for jokes and random violence (plus the awkward gym locker room scene with Tomoya is one of the series' funniest, in my opinion), but I've never found her to get at my heart much. Maybe that's because she isn't really revealed to have any backstory, or maybe I am just overly prejudiced towards Nagisa: I'm not positive. Overall, I think Kyou does well as a humor character mainly; her part in the main story works to add some tension while Nagisa is recovering from illness, but I feel her extra episode isn't endearing whatsoever. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but my opinion is that Kyou does great in her role as an overly violent, manipulative girl, but she's sorely lacking when it comes to relationships; to me, she doesn't seem to have even a glimmer of a chance with Tomoya. Maybe others don't share my opinion (well, I'm positive Andy doesn't...), but that's why it's an opinion, not a statement of absolute fact. Anyway, here's to books smashing Sunohara in the face. No one can deny the awesomeness of that.

Kyou Fujibayashi: the aggressive character. The first thing I’m going to say is this: Kyou is my favorite character from Clannad. She is my anime crush. I admit it. Since her first appearance throwing the book at Tomoya, she’s just appealed to me. It was the somewhat innocent, yet still fatal misunderstandings she had and the hilarious laugh she had at random times. Really, it’s just her character in general that I like, and I like her even more at those times when I actually understand the situation she has in the story, especially in her alternate world arc.

Really, I like Kyou because I can relate to her. A little while back I went through a phase where I had a personality somewhat similar to hers. I was pretty aggressive at some points, in a somewhat playful way, I was pretty random when it came to swinging moods, and the eavesdropping…..oh man, I was all in my friends’ businesses…. Of course, I regret being in that state in the past, but I actually think it fits Kyou better. I remember being more concerned with helping my friends instead of helping myself in certain situations, somewhat because I felt like I didn’t need any help. Kyou is more concerned with aiding her sister in reaching her goals instead of reaching her own goals which leads to quite a few issues in the alternate arc.

I like the irony of human emotions that Kyou represents. It’s when you get that feeling of wanting something, but you’re also somewhat afraid to pursue it because you don’t want to mess up or end up in a worse situation than the original one. Kyou boosts her own sister up to chase Tomoya while she herself has a desire to chase Tomoya. However, she doesn’t, and I’d like to assume it’s because she is afraid to. She is afraid to hurt her own sister, someone so kind and gentle, but she is also afraid to lose to her sister. I know the situation all too well, and I still remember the situation I was in like that. That’s my real reason for liking Kyou. I can connect with it, and I think it’s great that Clannad can emphasize how people make mistakes through character like Kyou rather than just having a bunch of unreal, perfect characters.

Kyou is one of the most layered characters in Clannad, right up there with Tomoya and Nagisa (yes, I even put her above Akio). Why? She only shows her true self once in the whole show, and it's not even in the main world!

She's right here:

Whenever I think of Kyou, this is the Kyou I think of. Not the overly violent, manipulative, and overly emotional bitch that we know in Clannad, but the sweet and somewhat overanxious Kyou that's in this video. It's because of that scene that I actually understood what Kyou was. She's someone who gave up what she loved for someone she loved, and buried herself to do it. Why else would anyone be that violent in such an angry manner? Burying yourself sucks, and will always produce anger issues. It just so happens that Kyou's in particular were... explosive. Can't blame her for that, I guess.

While she has the least actually said about her, Kyou's possibly the best developed minor character in the whole series. While she isn't overly wise her heart more than makes up for it. I'm proud to have her this far up on the list.

A miracle occurred, people! We all got our stuff in a half hour before the deadline! WOOT!

Thanks guys for writing up everything and busting your rear ends over my somewhat gentle (and not so gentle) reminders to write. We're in the top five now!