Oh boy, Tomoyo’s route. What a blast.
I love Tomoya and Tomoyo’s interactions in the common route. From the very beginning, even when they don’t interact outside of the Sunohara harassing Tomoyo skits, they get along great. And when they become a couple you can really feel how much they care for each other. At the same time Tomoyo has one notable weakness that can end her romantic relationship with Tomoya before it even began: her denseness.
If there’s one characteristic flaw that comes up time and time again regarding Tomoyo it’s that she’s quite oblivious to what the people around her truly think. It’s played for laughs when Tomoya jokingly says he’ll break up with her, but it’s a much more serious matter at other times. She doesn’t realize Sunohara and Tomoya both get quite irritated with her when she comes to wake them up. She’s stuck in naively believing she’s helping them, that they surely appreciate it. On the other hand she’s very open about what she herself is feeling. You could say she’s projecting that trait of herself onto others and doesn’t stop to think about deeper meanings behind people’s facades. What she never catches on to is that even though she’s very honest about her actual desires, other people aren’t so quick to accept that and believe to know what’s best for her. So she keeps ignoring the teacher’s advice and doesn’t even stop to think twice about if Tomoya feels the same way. Her denseness regarding this is also what eventually causes her to abruptly lose her greatest happiness.
Every time I read one of Tomoyo’s bad endings it hits me how easily she just throws everything away to live for Tomoya instead of pursuing her original goal. Because here’s the thing: before she meets Tomoya, she has no long-term dreams or goals to work towards. She wants to preserve the sakura trees, sure, but while I’m not going to downplay the personal importance this goal has for her – it’s important enough for her to risk losing Tomoya over it after all – I do feel this is something she clings to because she has no direction otherwise.
Tomoyo is shown to be very concerned about her femininity. Why is that? Because she feels that that’s who she really is, and that’s where she can find her treasure in life. And this is the crux of Tomoyo route. Tomoyo is certainly athletically and academically talented; but she doesn’t care. What she really wishes for is a normal quiet family life with the man she loves. However, everyone around her, including Tomoya himself, wants her to make use of her talents and become a ‘great person’. For the other student council member it’s to see her become the inspiring ideal he cherishes and can look up to. For the teachers it’s to see the beauty of a talented student achieving success in society. For Tomoya it’s because his immensely low self-esteem does not allow him to accept that Tomoyo could honestly be happy with just being with him and not with doing something greater. They all look at Tomoyo and see the promising student who can work her way through society and reach a height anyone would dream of; never the frail girl with far smaller aspirations.
It really makes me wonder where Tomoyo’s path would lead her if she didn’t meet Tomoya. It’s hardly likely she’d go on to meet someone she clicks with on a fundamental level the way she does with Tomoya. But who knows. Maybe she ends up finding her treasure in life someplace different altogether.
In the bad ends Tomoya can only watch in agony as Tomoyo pursues her true desires and leaves behind her promising future. His guilt and feeling of failure would probably stick with him and tear the relationship apart eventually. On the other hand I’m perfectly inclined to believe that Tomoyo would, in fact, be perfectly content. She lost the sakura trees, but she found something, or rather someone, she really treasures and can devote the rest of her life to.
For Tomoya, Tomoyo is the kind of support he’s always wanted from his own family. Someone to lean on, someone to look forward to seeing in the mornings and the evenings. She is a woman who would unconditionally support him and never abandon him. And she needs him too, to be there for her. It’s a somewhat different kind of relationship compared to the one he has with Nagisa in her route, but hardly an unsatisfying alternative now is it? Tomoyo After goes further into how well they complement each other, but that’s another story for another time.
Although at this point I want to point out one more contrast to Nagisa’s route that sprung out at me. In Nagisa’s route, Tomoya is a LOT more self-confident. When they win the basketball match, he has this monologue about how even if their paths are different from the norm, they (Tomoya, Sunohara, Nagisa) can still reach the same heights everyone else can. In Tomoyo route he goes on and on about how he and Tomoyo are just on completely different levels, meant for different heights. It takes him until the very end to finally accept himself as being an equal to Tomoyo. The moment he does that was so goddamn satisfying. Tomoyo is not some unreachable godlike existence, she’s just a girl. Took you long enough to realize it, Tomoya!
So yeah, Tomoyo’s route. I love it. I love the way everyone involved has their own understanding and views on the whole situation. And how those perspectives conflict and create a web where everyone is convinced they ‘get it’ and yet nobody ever really does get it. I found bits and pieces of myself in Tomoyo which surely helped as well. And the romance between Tomoya and Tomoyo is simply the best.
BRB rereading Tomoyo After.