Personally, I thought Kotori’s route was marvellously fascinating (and I am willing to say the same for every other Rewrite route). As with most of the other Key VNs, the perspective of the story and even the atmosphere in the setting or tone in the prose is tinted in colours, metaphorically speaking, of whichever route readers fall into. This, I feel, comes through most starkly in Rewrite, since Rewrite is (as per my knowledge) the only Key VN where most of the routes are primarily founded on the conflict for the Key, and revolve around a single aspect: the concept of salvation - which coincides with the main theme of Romeo Tanaka’s previous VN, Cross+Channel. Since every route is somehow majorly involved with the finding of the Key (except Lucia’s route - but that can be debated), the flavour of each route, and more importantly, the attitude that the route takes on regarding the whole pew-pew-bang-bang for the Key, can be very easily differentiated.
All of the main heroines are practically forced into their roles, and desire to be rid of all the mess, but despite this commonality, the motivations behind our heroines and the themes behind the different routes are all quite unique and distinct. Shizuru’s route can be said to orbit around loss, belonging, and homecoming; Akane’s route - 厭離穢土 (abhorrence of living in an impure world - this one’s staring us right in the face); Chihaya’s route - unyielding faith, optimism, grit, strength, raw shounen power, sunshine and rainbows and unicorns, etc.; Lucia’s route - purpose, individual and society, disgust and shame. All these are just some of the main themes of Rewrite’s routes, but even a cursory glance shows that behind all these routes, there is a potent will to action - definitive action which gets them to where they want to be - that drives all of the aforementioned heroines.
I think Kotori’s route stands out as the only exception. Her route, in my opinion, serves as the quietist, absurdist counterpoint to almost every other route. As some of us have mentioned above, there’s a great deal of angst, futility, suffering, and most uniquely, non-resolution in this route.
Rewrite is incredibly complex, so much so that it’s even invited some Biblical readings, such as this http://www.beneaththetangles.com/2015/04/04/rewrites-biblical-meta-narrative/
I would like to contribute to the interpretative scene of Rewrite, and in this post, I unapologetically pitch in my short and unsolicited two cents worth on Kotori’s route, an absurdist reading of the Kotoroute and a partially quietist reading on Kotori’s characterisation, simply because I feel it’s far too much of a waste to reduce Kotori’s route to nothing but an introductory route, a case of poor writing/direction (I like to hold Key to a very high standard), or a red herring that detracts from the main conflict in Rewrite. I am even willing to go so far as to claim that any reader who doesn’t notice the suffocating psychological focus of Kotori’s route, has missed one of the key points of the route. Additionally, I feel that amongst all the five character routes, Kotori’s route is so fragmented and opaque that it becomes the most difficult to read and appreciate of them all.
To clarify things, here I consider absurdism to simply refer to the idea that the search for meaning and purpose is directly pitted against “the silence of the universe”, that shreds the pursuit of inherent meaning and doubts the value of subjective meaning.
Unfortunately, I have underestimated this task, and the amount of work to be done on this has greatly overwhelmed my expectations. Circumstances dictate that I cannot currently invest myself whole-heartedly to this endeavour, much as I would love to. Alas, I don’t even the time to proofread this, so there may be some errors here and there - do pardon me. And this has just become so sprawling that I can only lead this analysis following the chronological order of events in the Kotoroute, so once again, I apologize if the arguments are not very cogent (just yet), and the flow leaving much to be desired. There’ll be lots of cross-referencing between routes, so the whole post has a bit of a spoiler-y tone to it, fyi.
Kotori’s Swansong: An Absurdist yet Quietist Reading of Kotori’s Route
To begin with, I’d like to briefly discuss the importance of philosophy and world-views in the VN.
Perhaps the most obvious place to start, would be the title of the OP. In every Key VN, the title of the opening song encapsulates the essence of the VN to some degree. For Air, there is Tori No Uta. For Clannad, there is Mag Mell i.e. (The) Plain of Joy - an afterlife from Irish mythology. For Little Busters, there is Little Busters!. And in Rewrite, we have Philosophyz - which seems to ground itself on the pursuit of meaning. Seen from this angle, it becomes quite clear that Rewrite revolves around philosophies (and to some extent, philosophy - but I’ll get to that). Just as how every main character has different backstories and motivations, their philosophies also vastly differ - and I pose that every one of their routes revolves around philosophies and ideologies. When even the clash between Guardian and Gaia stems from a near irreconcilable ideological difference, it’s difficult for me to argue against this.
One powerful demonstration of this lies in the most crucial decision in the entire VN.
‘I Can’t Answer That’
It’s just a simple survey that Kotarou fills in for Akane’s eyes alone, that ought to have close to no relation with plot progression whatsoever. However, the fact that this choice is the main factor that delineates the path of the VN, suggests that here, Kotarou defines himself - or rather, the reader defines Kotarou. In elucidating his stand on the question, “Would you rather change the world, or yourself?”, and putting it down on paper - Kotarou clarifies to himself his stance on the issue. And this proves to be no mere party question; not only does it change the route Kotarou is on, it also gives the general direction of the plot that helps to shape his personality, his identity. In my view, this choice is also the biggest piece of foreshadowing for one of the greatest nuggets in Kotori’s route, that Kotarou is a partial-familiar. He’s effectively a born-again. This choice strongly, but subtly, echoes how Kotarou is really starting from a blank slate. Every other major character in the VN had answered this question before him. I think that the reason why you have to unlock the choices one by one, is that it stems from how Kotarou changes in the preliminary routes. Put it this way: it seems to all be a simulation occurring in the Moon route, where Kagari and Kotarou fiddle with the history of life.
In Kotori’s route, Kotarou ends up having to change himself to accommodate Kotori, and to transform himself from a partial-familiar to an autonomous being once more, unlocking the choice: “Myself”. In Chihaya’s route, Kotarou changes the world around him by brute force, giving everyone a happy ending that unfortunately, proves to not help the world live on, according to Moon, and unlocks the choice: “The World”. Humorously, the only choice you have in the beginning is “I Can’t Answer That” - you literally have no other option.
If we choose ‘I Can’t Answer That’, Kotarou then gives his frank opinion: the question is too heavy. He can’t imagine what would happen if he tried either. And this is well represented in Kotori’s and Chihaya’s route. In Akane’s and Shizuru’s routes, Kotarou struggles with trying to change either the world around him or himself, right off the bat. But in Kotori’s and Chihaya’s routes, we find him caught in the in-between, and he slowly works the puzzle out from there. Here, I consider Chihaya’s route and Kotori’s route to hold diametrically opposed outlooks. In Chihaya’s route, Kotarou’s indecision blossoms into a fervent recognition and validation of joie de vivre, as he and Chihaya blaze through the conflict without regard for any ideological differences, working towards the ending they want. Clearly Chihaya isn’t the thinking kind, not that she needs to be. Kotori’s route, on the other hand, turns its introspective eye on the human condition. Instead of gun-busting optimism, there is angst, forlornness, despair, isolation, and potent absurdity clouding even the moments of tentative ease. In all the routes, the fantastical element dominates the landscape. Kotori’s route isn’t different in this regard - but here, it is far from magical and wondrous. The ‘magic’ here, I think, is not miraculous. It is not even conclusive - and I say, it adds to the absurdity.
Perhaps we may take Kotori’s route as a sombre introductory route to Rewrite. I can’t dispute that it feels like one, since the route is brimming with intrigue and confusion, helping to set the scene for the rest of the VN - but I personally think it offers much more than just a support for the other routes. Rather, I’d like to view it as an ‘ending’ route - precisely because the lack of information and the highly claustrophobic atmosphere of this route is best appreciated as integral aspects of the route once we have a bearing on the universe of Rewrite.
The Kotoroute starts on a dark note, and I mean this literally too. If you pay attention to the title cards that help to separate the five character routes from the common route, you may notice that Kotori’s card is the only one with a black background. Maybe Akane’s too, but all my save files have been wiped out so I can’t check. I thought it was quite impressionable; throughout the common route, the day-transition cards mostly have white backgrounds, and this to me seems to foreshadow the darker themes and plot that dominate the Kotoroute. At the start of it, all the Occult Club Members have vanished without a trace. Despite being in the midst of his classmates, Kotarou is isolated - having lost the dream team that granted him an memorable school experience. In this route, Kotarou’s psychological dependence on the Occult Club is laid bare; they provide him the meaning of his life in school - and perhaps, help him flee existential angst and despair. Unlike in other routes, where Kotarou picks himself up with relative ease due to the strength of his own will or the support he receives from others, here he is visibly distraught. From Terra, we are made aware from its bad end that Kotarou’s desire to live as fulfilling a school life as possible arises from his emptiness. Just as George Orwell wrote, “Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness.” As revealed in Terra, Kotarou’s lack of a past thanks to his amnesia effectively leaves him as a hollowed shell of who he was. His family is largely missing from his life, but he never seems to bother much about them, and perhaps this is simply because he doesn’t have the basis of memory to find them a significant part of his life in any way. He lacks an outlook on life, and even a bearing on his character. I pose that Kotarou is essentially empty, and he chooses to try and derive meaning from his time in school, in an attempt to be free from existential anguish. For me, this explains the staggering fluidity of Kotarou’s character throughout the routes, and further reinforces the importance of Akane’s survey. If in the other routes, Kotarou chooses to make a “leap of faith” by reorientating himself to his new conditions and chooses to believe in finding purpose, in continuing with everyday life even after the Occult Club dissolves, here Kotarou struggles to even stand.
Even from the beginning, the absurdity in the Kotoroute is very palpable. Apart from the infamous leaf-dragon scene that reroutes the VN sharply and establishes a great deal of shock and dread when read for the first time, here the seemingly purposeless, chaotic universe of Rewrite denies Kotarou’s quest to discover inherent value in his life by taking away his valued Occult Club, the place where he wanted to build “real relationships”. It reverts Kotarou into a state of uncertainty, where he questions the worth of his life. When we also take into consideration his worry for the other members, and his state of great confusion, it is no wonder that Kotarou is thrown into a state of turmoil. Putting it in his own words, he becomes “mentally unstable just because [Kotori] left at a bad time.” But comparing this with his attitude in other routes, I highly doubt it’s simply that.
Here, Kotarou’s rejection of his classmates’ goodwill - effectively the kindness of strangers - is understandable. As he puts it, “none of the people I’m looking for are there.” Essentially, he clearly segregates for himself who his friends are - those who add value to his days, who he values - and his acquaintances. In this regard, Kotarou truly is an “ungrateful asshole”, in Yoshino’s words. Wallowing in the midst of his despair, Kotarou seems to lump all his other classmates together as nameless, faceless acquaintances, to whom he is - at best - obliged to be friendly towards. Their kindness is meaningless to Kotarou, and this seems to be at the heart of Yoshino’s anger towards him. Kotarou does not even realise this; I think, in his depressed state, he fails to consider that his classmates’ kindness has to be “repaid”, that it takes two hands to clap - a stark contrast to Kotarou’s attitude in the common route, where he goes around town befriending people by the legions, and seems to have no qualms indexing them all in the “Friends” list. As Confucius said, “射有似乎君子、失諸正鵠、反求諸其身。” In archery we have something akin to the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he seeks for the cause of his failure in himself. Here, Kotarou’s desperate search for meaning, for something to replace the Occult Club, for Kotori in particular, has blinded him to his growing self-centredness. Perhaps the only thing he got right here was this: “There’s never a right answer to any difficulties that arise.”
Some weeks later, at home, Kotarou spots three shadows walking past. The VN subtly hints that Kotori’s family has returned: “One of them walks under a streetlight.” I suggest that here, by only referring to Kotori as “[one] of them”, not only do the writers introduce an element of suspense and delay the relief we get from knowing of Kotori’s return, here the diction of otherness likens Kotori to a stranger - foreshadowing the revelation of Kotori’s enigmatism. Kotarou rushes out to greet Kotori, who seems in low spirits. She makes up yet another fantastic excuse to explain her long absence and incommunicability, saying she gave an idol concert at the Budoukan to thunderous applause.
Here it’s quite striking that, despite Kotarou having known her his whole life, Kotarou seems to not know a thing about Kotori. As a matter of fact, neither do we. At this point, everything about Kotori is shrouded in mystery. Though there were numerous occasions in the Common Route where the warmth and gentleness of Kotori’s personality, this Kotoroute reveals the coldness, and great distance that actually separates Kotarou and her. When she says to him, “[your] fun club activities are over”, Kotarou ‘corrects’ her, and tells her that those fun times belonged to everyone, Kotori simply acknowledges his statement and apologizes. Of course, Kotarou’s “At least that’s not what I wanted it to be,” gives the self-reflective lie to his words. Amongst all the heroines, Kotori seems to not only be the least invested in the Occult Club, but also the most emotionally distant. In Lucia’s route, the relationship between Chihaya, Lucia, and Shizuru feature quite prominently. In Akane’s route, she and Kotarou discuss the Occult Club and reminisce on it. The same applies to Shizuru’s route, and I don’t I even need to mention Chihaya’s route on this one. Only Kotori never seems to dwell on the Occult Club. Her use of the pronoun “your” is, one on hand, completely apt. After all, Kotarou started the Occult Club largely for himself, at first. Yet, it reveals that Kotori sounds as if she’s completely detached from the situation, as though she was mostly unaffected by the dissolution of the club. Even when the Occult Club was active, Kotori was the most distant within the merry band, evident in her blatant absence in all the other character routes. She is hardly referred to by name, and it is mostly Kotarou who remembers her - though briefly, at best. Her biggest appearance in other routes comes in Shizuru’s, but even there she’s just a disembodied voice that Kotarou doesn’t really recognise, and she is even implied to die, sacrificing herself to waken Shizuru from her coma.
This great and apparently unbridgeable distance between Kotori and Kotarou manifests itself most clearly in the dramatic love confession.
“I love you, Kotori.”
What originally starts off as an expression marking his relief and his gratitude, ends up transforming into a dialogue where Kotarou rails against his inability to understand Kotori, and the vast chasm between them. Kotarou, unable to understand and reach out to Kotori, feels absolutely “powerless” in this exchange. Despite it being his second time confessing to Kotori, he doesn’t as much as faze her. The character who, in the Common Route, had the most screen-time, and seemed to be closest to Kotarou, ironically is the one who is most distant to him. Instead of properly responding to him, she neither accepts nor rejects him. She attempts to brush it aside, and jokingly denies knowing that he had always loved her. She wishes that he had forgotten about it all. She apologizes repeatedly, for having rejected him but still remaining by his side. And as Kotarou most keenly observes, it was “as if [his] feelings were being treated like an illusion,” which is, ironically, exactly the case. Kotori suspects that Kotarou’s feelings for her are a by-product of him being a half-familiar. Subverting the usual notion of love confessions as romantic, this scene presents itself as anything but. The tone suddenly shifts from ease and thankfulness, to frustration, anger, indignation - very nearly boiling down to physical violence. And on Kotori’s note, a whole heaping of guilt - guilt that she can’t redirect or resolve, as she refrains from divulging the truth of the matter to Kotarou.
Why then, does Kotori try so very hard to keep Kotarou in the dark? In all the other routes, Kotarou learns about the truth of the matter with relative ease, and without all the optional pain and suffering in Kotori’s route. Perhaps the answer lies in a range of factors, such as Kotori’s keeping everyone at more than an arm’s length away, or Kotori’s wish, as exemplified by this quote: “All I want is for you to be happy.” But at this point, Kotori has proven herself to be so slippery, it’s hard for Kotarou to distinguish between the cliches and her sincere remarks. He couldn’t even see through her facade in the Common Route; it is only at this tipping point when this fact becomes apparent to him. Kotori skilfully gets him to drop the subject by appeasing him, comforting him, and showering him with her motherly, all-encompassing attitude.
Even if we have read the other routes available, the Kotoroute raises more questions than there are evident answers. We can infer why Kotori looks so worn-out, but then the question begs: why did she return? It can even be argued that Kotori was actually expecting him. Is Kotori even duplicitous? How can we reject Kotori’s happy-go-lucky, capricious spirit as not an authentic part of her? I won’t propose an answer to these questions just yet. But I can safely say that on the whole, I view Kotori as truly a character of contradictions - one of Key’s most ambivalent, most human characters thus far.
Of course, it can’t be denied that this is meant to be a touching reunion, but the atmosphere is so muddy, negative, and toxic, that any hope of romance here is shattered. Incidentally, I can see this as a microcosm of the route’s entire treatment of the romantic prospects between the two. Kotarou’s reaction to Kotori’s return seems less innocent than just what would be expected from a heartfelt reunion. Kotarou notes how Kotori’s body feels “fragile” when he hugs her, out of intense relief and delight. It seems to suggest that Kotarou sees Kotori as a symbol of “fragile” everyday happiness, and he comments to himself that he would neither take her return for granted nor, by extension, the frailty of life. In fact, Kotarou looks as if he requires Kotori’s validation, which oozes out of his desire for her to reciprocate his feelings for her: “I have to make myself believe that [I’ll have another chance at getting Kotori]… completely… and only then can I control myself,” or “I don’t want the strength to endure [Kotori leaving me].” When he vows to himself to forget the Occult Club, and instead remarks: “I can’t afford to take my eyes off what I still have,” he forces himself into the position that Kotori had always tried to get him away from: dependence on her. At this point, it is easy to see that Kotori has become Kotarou’s main reason for living. His instability - his self-deception in his fleeing from angst and forlorness - pushes him to latch onto, find comfort in Kotori. In this light, maybe Kotori was correct after all; what Kotarou feels for Kotori might just be an illusion after all. Even at the end of the scene, this theme of dishonest emotions surfaces in Kotarou’s thoughts, where he thinks that Kotori definitely feels something, be it love or not, for him, and he tells him that isn’t just his “delusion”.
But beyond Kotarou, who goes through an emotional roller-coaster: shifting from relief to love, to shock, to melancholy and despair, to indignation, to stubbornness, there is also Kotori’s part of the dialogue, which is equally rich, if not more so. Here, I’d like to split her dialogue in this scene into three simple segments: evasion, hesitance, and truth. In the first part of the confession scene, Kotori’s lines are peppered with fabrications. All of them are clearly unbelievable - she blatantly lies about facts: where she’s been, what she did, why she went away.
Does this indicate that she’s just a bad liar? Personally, taking into consideration how she managed to hide her past from everyone, her movements, et cetera, for so long, it seems to me that Kotori is too shaken by the guilt she feels over Kotarou. In the beginning, her lies are joking, in her trademark comedic fashion - a subtle move to deflate tension in the situation and try to get Kotarou off her back on the issue of her disappearance.
Then, as the conversation progresses, Kotarou begins hammering down on more sensitive issues: the emotional wall between the two, their tentative relationship, and above all, the cruelty of Kotori’s actions. It is from here where Kotori falters. She sports difficult, saddened expressions. Her excuses become less believable, and she stops using them altogether. Rolling down a gradient of silence, she first hesitates in her words and begins giving non-answers, before having to pause in her sentences, and finally shutting down in complete silence as Kotarou’s outpouring of emotions overwhelms the atmosphere. The extent of how much Kotarou’s words affect her can be evidenced by her line, “I was worried you might hit me or something… you’re really grown-up, Kotarou-kun.” She’s even prepared to take a beating from him without too many qualms, possibly reflecting an aching conscience here. Throughout it all, when Kotori is not being outright evasive, her words are tinged in resignation, and a strange kind of “motherly” affection, as she puts it.
It is only when Kotarou says the following morbid lines that Kotori’s expression changes, and her lines become more sincere, more revealing of her character than ever before.
"…we can’t be together forever, right?
There’s going to be… an end… someday."
The first thing she does is apologize, admit that she can’t explain it to Kotarou, that she would rather not reveal the details, putting the matter to rest - an about-turn from her previous attitude. If only a little, we now glean some insight into Kotori’s character.
When Kotarou brings up the uncertainty of life, the unpredictability of the world, that nothing lasts forever - Kotori gives this incredibly depressing response: “For me… [life] is [predictable].” Even her expression momentarily changes into one of resignation and despair, for that one line alone. She say she’ll never find someone else to be her partner like it were a fact, and she plainly states how she’s never gotten close to others. She states that she’s “not interested in [love]”, looking out into the distance, not meeting Kotarou’s eyes, for the first time in their conversation (save for the times when she looks down or closes her eyes).
Here, if Kotarou, having been shaken by the sharp, violent dissolution of the Occult Club, is recognising the absurdity of the human condition and of the indomitable flow of time, railing out against the tragedy of change, Kotori seems to take the opposite stance. Kotarou has experienced tumultuous change in recent days, yet Kotori - his closest friend - is at the other end of the spectrum: her life is unchanging. But this is logically impossible. After all, as the adage goes: all things must pass.
With all this in mind, I propose thus: Kotori has effectively given up hope on herself, succumbed to despair, and submitted to quiescence and isolation. She has abandoned her own life. She is the only heroine who is so staunchly shown to be disinterested in her life. To illustrate my argument, I contrast the Kotoroute with the other dark route: Akane’s route. Even Akane constantly wavers between her identity as the Holy Woman and her personal life with Kotarou. Kotori lacks that sort of choice. Furthermore, Akane contemplates suicide, but Kotori does not. Some might take this contemplation on self-murder as proof that Akane values her life less than Kotori, but here I’d like to offer an alternative viewpoint. In both their routes, death is treated as an escape. They have both, to large extents, judged their lives to be not worth living. So why do I think Kotori is more tragic for not thinking of suicide as a serious course of action? I quote this dialogue involving Thales, the first of Greece’s seven sages.
THALES: There is no difference between life and death.
Q.: Then why do you not die?
THALES: Because there is no difference.
In Akane’s route, death is liberation. Mass cleansing of the human race is a sort of salvation. Life is added with meaning through death. Or so Akane thinks before she is shuffled into the shelter. Kotori’s route has no such grand ideas. There is sin and salvation for Akane. There is only silence for Kotori. Death is just an escape from the feeling of absurdity, which is demonstrated in the only time Kotori presses for suicide, where she desires to kill Kagari, which would effectively cause her to die too since Kotarou would drain her life away. In Akane’s route, Kotarou supports Akane - in a way, he is powerful. That sense of power is lacking in Kotarou in the Kotoroute. If in Akane’s route, Kotarou watches the gradual hollowing out of an individual who pretends to forsake her will to live, here, Kotarou witnesses the decay of an individual whose will to live is paper-thin, and the VN does nothing to hide Kotori’s emptiness.
To build on this point of mine, I would like to reference the next part of the love confession scene.
The conversation changes subject, now focusing on Kotori’s plans for her future.
Then, Kotori drops this bombshell: “After all, I’ve always planned on thinking about myself after you find your happiness, Kotarou-kun.” Clearly, the topic was on Kotori’s happiness - so why did it even switch to Kotarou’s happiness? They both wonder along with us:
“Why are you waiting for me?”
“I wonder why… I’m not too sure.”
Since Kotori finds it difficult to put her “feelings into words”, here I would like to offer an explanation for her. Kotori guesses she “feels like a mother”, but I posit that this is just a nice, cushy way of describing Kotori’s vicariously living through Kotarou. I pose that having given up on herself, Kotori finds solace in Kotarou’s happiness. Kotarou effectively becomes a receptacle of purpose for Kotori. Unable to find meaning in her own life, she seeks to find it in Kotarou’s. From this angle, we can see a truly sad paralleling at work here. Kotori is Kotarou’s vessel of meaning - he needs her to extract meaning, to escape angst. Kotarou is, I dare say, Kotori’s ‘life support’ - since in Shizuru’s route, Kotori sacrifices herself for Kotarou’s happiness.
To sum up my point on this section, I end off with this quote of Kotori’s, addressed to Kotarou when they’re in the forest later on.
“I don’t care whether I live or die, but if I’m going to live… I want something to come from it! What do I get out of this? Tell me, what’s the point of this? This better mean something! I want you… to be the proof that I lived.”
In a way, they feed off each other, in a way. They are so very close to each other, and they mean so much to each other. Yet, as Kotarou asks, “[why] does she keep drawing [a] line” between them?
Kotori’s response is as such, "Because I don’t want to lose what we have now… I guess?"
And though Kotarou accuses her of offering him an empty cliche, Kotori simply says she can’t explain. So is it just a cliche? Maybe so. Maybe not; by breaking the barrier between the two, Kotarou will inevitably be thrust into Kotori’s hellish world, which certainly would not be in the interests of Kotarou’s happiness or continued survival, at least in Kotori’s view; here, ignorance is bliss.
As a response to Kotarou’s words, Kotori’s “eyes feel lonely”. This can be read in many ways, but here, I’d like to take it as a hint of lamentation over their massive disconnect. The scene showed a completely failed attempt at communication, and hence, connection between the two.
Now all Kotarou can do is grapple at his feelings. Now all Kotori can do is apologize.
“This hurts,” he says, as the fact that Kotori refuses to lay herself bare to him begins to sink in. The confession, which Kotarou had hoped would be a catalyst of meaning, ends up bringing him nowhere. His only takeaway is that he discovers that something is off with Kotori. But he takes it all his stride, choosing not to regret his decision to confess.
Eventually, the power dynamics of the scene shifts to Kotori’s favour. At the start, Kotarou asserts his dominance over the flow of the conversation by pushing Kotori into a corner, by letting his emotions flow out. Now, Kotarou is all but worn by the dialogue, and Kotori reverts to her strategy at the beginning; she gives a simple excuse, and comforts him.
“All my questions and frustrations are suppressed, as if wrapped up and shoved aside.”
Thus, the love confession ends.
The mood lightens when they return to school, and a contrived semblance of slice-of-life spirit is re-established.
And for now, my analysis ends. It’s an incredibly hectic time now, so I’ll continue this in parts some time later. I never expected that this undertaking would be so heavy. I predict that with the amount of content the whole reading will take, I’ll probably have to shift this to my Wordpress. In fact, now that I think about it, that’s probably the better course of action. Still, I’ll wait until a complaint is directed at me - as I usually do. I sincerely apologize if this post is too long, or does not belong.