“What should I do? What do I want? Do I want a boyfriend? Do I want a relationship? Am I interested? Or not? Should I give up? Or expect something? Will I…like him someday?….Or won’t I?” - Ayane Yano (Chapter 67)
For those who are single and have not experienced love (or anyone that’s been through love for that matter), how do you know that you have that intense feeling inside? Can you say to yourself that it’s not just a simple crush? What if you’re afraid to find out? A while back in Karuho Shiina’s Kimi ni Todoke Volume 16, one of the more mature characters in the series, Ayane Yano, tries to address this concern in her heart with regards to the flirtatious behavior of Kento Miura. So when do those butterflies begin to fly in your stomach and should you let them float around?
Before things came to a climax in Volume 17, Ayane was dealing with Kento’s sudden interest in her. Kento is considered to be a huge playboy in her school, but he decides to get serious about Ayane. Ayane can be considered to be a player herself, due to having many boyfriends in the past. All her past relationships have been superficial. One day, Sawako Kuronuma comes to Ayane about her troubles with her boyfriend, Shota Kazehaya. Ayane then talks about Kento and wonders about his feelings for her. She goes off into a speech on how she isn’t as great as she thinks she is. Sawako comforts Ayane, but knows that her words won’t heal her unless Ayane accepts herself.
The idea of how love works has been thrown around so many times that people are still uncertain of its magic. Some people will tell you that you get a strong, passive feeling when you think about or around the one you like. Scientists will talk about how hormones (like oxytocin) react to a connection. Answers are everywhere and they continue to vary.
Yet the answer could be simple - it all comes down to commitment. We all get drawn to someone who is committed to something or someone in a non-romantic manner. People are drawn to those who have a strong passion for things that they love to do. They like people who are responsible and independent, both of which are aspects of commitment. To quote Mindy Kaling from her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”, “being entrenched is awesome.”
Before he liked Ayane, Kento liked Sawako to the point where Kazehaya blasted him for his interference. He saw both her and Ayane as serious targets, compared to his army of “Kento Girls.” Emotional maturity was his desired muse. What Sawako and Ayane both have in common was that they are both committed to caring for others and felt confident in doing so. Sawako points out how awesome Ayane is for being the way she is, while Ayane says the same about her and the third member of their close-knit group, Chizuru Yoshida.
With Ayane’s past insecurities, how many of you have felt like your heart would explode around someone? I had a conversation with a friend about love recently. She asked if I ever been in love before. I told her that I had. She then asked, “Was it love? Explain.” I couldn’t. I began to wonder if I have ever been in love. I’ve had crushes, but they didn’t make me go “DOKI DOKI.” I treat my girl friends pretty much all the same. I don’t really give preferential treatment to one over the other. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid or don’t want to be in a relationship. No one wants to hurt people, right? These questions float in my mind, just like they have for Ayane.
Maybe as Ayane finally learns - just let it all out. Life is too short for regrets. Everybody hurts…sometimes. Change isn’t meant to kill you. Love exists so that you know you won’t feel alone when it matters most.
Leave it to one of the crown jewels of shoujo manga for reminding us of a painful, yet amazingly wonderful feeling.
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