“Life is all about taking the next step forward”
As we come to the end of the month of January, I have some special news for you all. It’s something I’ve been meaning to apply for (?) since a long time, but only took the leap this year.
I’ve joined the amazing blogging team of OWLS (Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect). Honestly, I’m still a little in shock that I’m actually a part of this, haha.
In brief, OWLS are a group of anibloggers who promote the acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability.
A new year implies “new beginnings.” Yet, rather than discussing the “new,” we will be discussing the “revival.” “Revival” has multiple definitions, but the meaning we will be focusing on is the improvement, development, or refinement of something. Our posts will be about characters that undergo a positive or negative transformation and what we can learn from them.
Kiss and Never Cry
Kiss and Cry is a manga by Ogawa Yayoi sensei about ice skating and ice dancing. It follows Michiru-chan, a famous solo figure skater take up ice dancing.
While the story description and summary seem very simple, Kiss and Never Cry is the most complex psychological manga I have read. It’s a beautiful woven story with tragedy, slice of life, romance and comedy.
Let me first explain the name of manga. The “Kiss and Cry” is basically the seat where ice skaters sit when they wait for their scores.
It’s named as it is because the participants either kiss their coaches on a good score or cry after a bad one.
So what IS Kiss and Never Cry about?
“I should have never let go of her hand that day.”
The manga starts with a half Japanese boy Leon-kun regretting his decision to ever let go of ‘her’ hand. It is revealed immediately after this, that ‘her’ is Michiru-chan, the daughter of a famous ice dancing couple, who becomes a close friend of Leon-kun.
He first meets Michiru-chan in an American ice skating rink and ends up falling in love with her.
Leon-kun too begins to ice skate and upon watching an old clip of Michiru-chan’s parents ice dance, Leon-kun and Michiru-chan learn to ice dance as well.
Michiru-chan’s actual father had passed away and her mother had remarried quite some time ago. It is revealed that her step father is abusive and extremely possessive of Michi-chan.
At this point of the story, he decides that it isn’t in Michi-san’s best interest to pursue ice dance and that they will shift to Japan to refine her figure skating instead.
Michiru-chan wants to ice dance regardless of what happens, so she comes to Leon-kun and asks him if he would run away with her. When Leon-kun stumbles, she demands he let go of her hand and runs away.
She disappears for a long time worrying everyone.
Later, after frantic searching they find her only to have her claim that she cannot remember or recollect anything that has happened. The same day, her coach, who she had a crush on, passes away.
She ends up shifting to Japan after the incident.
11 years after the incident, now Michiru-san is 18, just as Leon-kun is. She is on a break from ice skating after injury due to over strain and partners with a well known ice dancer Hikaru-san for ice dancing.
Hikaru-san is her sensei’s brother (the same one who passed away during her disappearance.
The story follows the relations between the three characters- Hikaru-san, Michi-san and Leon and discovering the truth behing Michi-san’s disappearance.
Throughout the whole manga, every character grows and evolves, so I had a hard time to choose one character for this prompt, but Leon is the one who fits it perfectly.
Leon had always loved Michi-san. It’s pretty much obvious from when they were kids itself and if you ask me, Leon’s dense that he didn’t figure out that Michi-san loves him right back too.
He was always called a wimp by his friends and sister (who’s too cute by the way) because he never had the courage to do anything.
His first courageous jump was to confess to Michiru-san. It was one of the sweetest things in the whole story and well it was a no brainer that she’s say yes. *rolls eyes* He’s so dense.
Michi-san, however, starts to feel that she isn’t worthy to date Leon. Something that happened in the disappearance seems to haunt her, so she finds herself ‘dirty’ and ‘impure’ and assumes that she’s tricking Leon into seeing her as a sweet girl when in reality she isn’t.
Michi-san ends up taking the step forward and breaking up with Leon. He is shocked but at the same time he could sort of understand that there was something Michi-san was worried about, so he still continues to support her.
According to me this is one of the reasons Leon is wonderful. He is extremely loyal and supportive.
When Leon discovers what actually happened during the disappearance (she was sexually abused), he, for once in a million shoujo characters sympathizes with Michi-san instead of pushing her away.
Truly, Leon… Leon is a wonderful character.
The Negative Transformation
In one particular arc of the story, when Leon and Michi-san go back to America to legally fight against the people who abused Michi-san and meet with other victims, they end up in a single hotel room.
In that scene, Leon finds himself attracted to Michi-san and goes to kiss her. Just to clarify things, he doesn’t force himself on her or anything, they have a slightly intimate conversation before this.
To his surprise, Michi-san adamantly refuses and seems to be extremely flustered and nervous. He suddenly realises that it may be because she’s scared of him and apologises to her. I find this straight forward character of Leon really likeable, but to his utter shock, Michi-san confesses that she used to love her sensei when she was younger.
He feels jealous at that, but tells her it’s ok and it doesn’t matter. But Michi-san goes on to reveal that she’d actually slept with Hikaru-san before and she sometimes mistook him for sensei.
While knowing her experience with Club Bambiba didn’t change his reasoning, her admitting that she had had physical relationships with Hikaru-san, her partner, broke him emotionally.
Despite getting from where she was coming, he felt devastated that this happened almost immediately after they broke up.
I can understand why he’d be so shocked or hurt at the fact, but at the same time I can’t forgive his actions after this.
He begins to drift away from Michi-san more and more.In many instances, even when Michiru-san needs support, he finds himself avoiding her. He knows he’s being a wimp but he still can’t seem to do anything about it.
He claims that there are ‘strings that seem to hold him back’.
In this period of jealousy, weakness and a sense of guilt, he takes another misstep.
He has an affair with a married woman in his dance group.
When Michiru-san finds out about this she begins to think that this is her final punishment- not able to be with who she loves.
So, even though I sympathise with Leon’s plight I don’t agree with his actions. It might be a personal opinion, but I can’t stomach the fact especially since he even stupidly brings along the woman to Michi-san’s rink.
The Positive Revival
As these ‘strings’ seem to grow stronger than ever and he begins to stop choreographing for them as well, Leon discovers that despite everything, he still loves Michi-san the most.
He decides that he doesn’t like himself the way he is now and wants to change. And thus he goes forward yet again.
He takes his second leap. After already feeling the hurt of rejection, after feeling how hard it is to see Michiru’s struggles up close, after taking several wrong decisions, he retakes his jump.
Or maybe it’s BECAUSE he’s felt the hurt of rejection, of seeing a loved one’s struggles and wrong decisions, that he retakes his jump.
Leon has gone through several transformations, some negative, some positive. But all for the same purpose.
To revive his worth. Both for himself and for Michiru.
What is Revival to me?
“The first step of Revival is deep repentance, a breaking down of heart , deep humility and a forsaking of a sin.”
This year, I can be proud and honest as I say that I have taken my first step too.
It is nothing as drastic as Leon’s but for me it was a big step. Until last year, I never really spoke much about myself to friends. Even if I did, it’d be about what I loved, what I hated, opinions, opinions, opinions.
I never, and I actually mean never, spoke about how I feel. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust my friends, it was that I trusted them too much.
I always knew if I tell them they’d be worried and then I’d be worried that they’d be worries. So I never did.
In a way, even today I’m not too comfortable with speaking about what I’m afraid of or how I feel to people, but somewhere I think it was the right decision to talk.
I felt I had strings attached that stopped me from saying that “I am…” always. I got Leon in more ways than one.
So for me, revival meant to trust more openly. It meant realising that just because I felt that what I feel wasn’t worthy it doesn’t mean that others feel the same way. That I need to talk to let them know that I trust them, because people can’t read minds.
Thank you to everyone who heard me out on things that might’ve been stupid, or useless, be it after the lunch bell rang or in blog comments. You know who you are. Thank you.
My ‘revival’ if you could even call it that, was to realise that what I think needs to matter for myself.
My revival, I suppose, was to revive my own worth. For myself.
Then again, perhaps that’s exactly what a revival means.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end!
This was my very first OWLS blog tour, and the next post will be taken up by another new OWLS member but well known aniblogger SHOKA-SAN! , so be sure to check it out tomorrow!
Have any of you read Kiss and Never Cry before? Would you perhaps pick it up? Once again, all thoughts and comments appreciated!