Saturday, October 9, 2010

The School's Trees: Top Ten Favorite Characters, #8-Yoshino Yusuke

"This is the best gift I can give you right now. A formless gift called memory."
Who doesn't have a soft spot for Yuusuke's idealistic speeches? They're one of the majorly unique aspects of his character (besides his whole dual career of rock star and electrician). There's not really too much for me to say about him that isn't very obvious just by seeing him on the show: he's a really cool guy with heavily idealistic speeches, and being a good amount idealistic myself, I'm a big fan. Yuusuke also proves to be a great mentor to Tomoya throughout his adult life, and he's got a scene that might make my top 10 for touching scenes in Clannad (at the very least, it's in the top 20, I'd guess). The scene late in the series (I think Episode 21 of After Story, actually) where Yuusuke makes Tomoya exchange screwdrivers so that he will have to come back always gets me, and I'm not too sure why. Maybe it's just the whole idea of commitment: one of the biggest things I like about Clannad is the promotion of making commitments and sticking to them. Yuusuke has Tomoya make a commitment, and the screwdriver is the reminder that will make him stick to it. That importance of commitment is just another aspect of Yuusuke's idealism, I think, which is probably my favorite thing about him.

In a lot of ways Yoshino's relationship with Tomoya reminds me of my friendship with Andy: a strong brotherly influence that never gives up, regardless of how much I anger him. I remember once a few years ago I had done something to really anger Andy, like for him to come and beat the shit out of me if he so chose. Considering that we were roommates at the time it would be a pretty easy thing to do, and I knew it. And it wasn't that I wanted to stop him, far from it. I knew I would deserve it, and even wanted him to do it. So I just waited in our room, thinking about the fact that he was gonna be gone soon, studying abroad, and what I wanted to do with him. And about what he would do to me for what I'd done. He walked into the room, and I asked if he wanted to play some DnD for the last time in goodness knows how long. Andy kinda stared at me, and said OK. We sat down, rolled out our geekiness, and played our hearts out. I don't think I'll ever forget the look that he got on his face before he told me he'd play. It was thoroughly indescribable, so I'm sorry that I can't be more specific here. All I can say is that, looking back, I knew that I was his brother, that even though he was pissed off at me he wanted to have fun with me more (for whatever reason), and so he put aside whatever he had, and sat down to have fun.

And that is what I think Yoshino and Tomoya's friendship is about. To say anymore would be folly.

Yusuke-san is one of the Clannad characters who doesn't truly come into his own until After Story. His first appearance, at Ibuki Kouko's wedding, yields very little information about his character. We see more sides of Yoshino emerge, though, as the story continues. We find out that he was once a famous musician, and that he has become a philosophizing electrician. His dramatic seriousness gives a certain levity to the series.

Once After Story begins, Yoshino's true character enters the show. His role in the series is easily on par with other major characters such as Akio and Sanae. After Story is in part about Tomoya finding a family: he finds new family, and connects with old family. Of his new family, Akio provides the role of a father, and Sanae the role of a mother. What about Yoshino? He mentors Tomoya, not only in his job but in his life. I don't know if Tomoya had any siblings, but Yoshino becomes what seems to be the big brother that Tomoya never had.

Yoshino has also hit rock bottom in his past, which helps him to connect with Tomoya through the tragedy in After Story. The likeness between the two is striking at times; Yoshino often seems like a more matured version of Tomoya. I don't personally think it's any sort of accident that they look remarkably similar to one another. This is the main reason why I like Yoshino: he is the stability that Tomoya needs, and he's been down Tomoya's road before. Now, he passes along the formless gift of memory, which in the end (though it's all he has to give) is the greatest gift of all.

Take silent and reserved, mix it with a hidden philosopher, and you have the character in Clannad known as Yoshino.  When I think of Yoshino, one scene stands out clearly in my mind.  Imagine a bright summer day.  Add the smell of freshly torn grass and a hint of dust, a baseball field, and fans cheering enthusiastically on the sidelines.  The sound of a ball clanging echoes across the park, and suddenly, everything goes still.  Light surrounds the batter and he slowly begins to walk forward.  “Children,” he intones.  “This is the best I can give you right now, a gift without form called memory.  I don’t have money.  I can’t buy you anything with form.  Even so….”  
“Out!”  The voice of the umpire rings across the field, cutting off the stream of words.  
This scene stands out in my mind when I think of Yoshino, but in truth, Yoshino gives much more to Clannad then a random speech in the middle of a baseball game.  Yoshino is the quiet voice of reason.  He is the voice that speaks up and gives answers when none are expected.  When I watched Clannad, Yoshino was a character who faded into the backround as I concentrated on the other twisting elements of the story.  As I went through and wrote up this piece, I realized that I liked Yoshino because he was able to do that.  He could arise quietly, speak his piece, make me nod my head in agreement, and then fade back away until he was needed once more. For me, Yoshino is the steady, solid presence of Clannad.   

Yusuke Yoshino: the memorable character. I have trouble trying to find words to describe how much this character means to me personally. He is the character from Clannad that I aspire to be most like. I think he makes a perfect role model for the other characters, especially Tomoya (seeing as they are quite alike), because he encourages everybody in their goals, but he also doesn’t falsely get their hopes up when he sees complications. He is willing to speak his mind, often doing it in a poetic manner. He never seems to get real angry or point fingers when somebody makes a mistake but instead he gives constructive criticism in hopes that they will work to fix their issues next time around.

As is the case with many of the other adult figures of Clannad, Yusuke’s words are often humor-coated wisdom. He may sometimes turn one subject in to a speech that seems completely unnecessary or even draw a little too much attention to his self in public places, but the awkwardness that comes with his words helps express his point better and show who Yusuke really is. He has a strong sense of moral, and his actions show that he believes in being with loved ones and creating memorable moments, as he will never pass up a chance to make new memories.

Perhaps Yusuke's morals are so strong because he knows what it is like to give them up. In Yusuke’s back story, which I believe to be one of the most elaborate and also meaningful in Clannad, it is shown that Yusuke was once a popular rock star who made music because it was his passion. There was a point in time where his reason for making music changed because he saw that others were somewhat dependent on him, but when his reason changed, his music did also. Yusuke’s popularity plummeted, and he was soon left alone with music that didn’t even seem like his. After almost giving up completely, Yusuke received encouragement from Kouko Ibuki, who would later become his wife, and realized that he should continue playing music, if not only for himself, for her also. After giving up and reclaiming his passion, moral, and being, he found himself standing that much stronger in them. He stands by what he says because he knows you can’t live a certain way because others wish for you to live that way. One of the most admirable aspects of Yusuke is that he does what he does because it is what he wishes to do.

As I said before, I feel a personal connection with Yusuke Yoshino because he is strong in his own way, colorful, and his morals are sound. He reflects the ups and downs that life has and also the expectations that people should have for their selves.

A thanks to all the good people who helped me compile this stuff. Although we were a little late this time I think we all wrote quite well, and only hope that we can do the next week this much credit.

Apologies for the late post, we all had quite a few things to do, and then I got sick, and yeah...this week hasn't been too nice as far as academics are concerned. For anyone, apparently. Oh well.