Sunday, August 15, 2010

宮沢有紀寧 (Miyazawa Yukine)

"My brother's wish was to rid this town of the fighting...I wanted to make that matter what."

Miyzawa Yukine is a recurring minor character in Clannad. Her story takes place in Episodes 7 and 8 of After Story, the last minor arc before the series dives full-on into Nagisa and Tomoya's story.


Yukine is a high school junior who spends most of her free time in the library: not the main library, where Kotomi is, but the secondary, even less used, library. It's also called the reference room. While this room isn't used much as a library, people still go there to visit Yukine. She's always waiting there with tea and a smile (and sometimes some food as well). She's pretty social for voluntarily confining herself to a library; though she doesn't seek out other people's company (at least at school), she has no problem with talking to anyone she comes in contact with. She's a (for the most part) calm girl who is also caring: she does whatever she can to help others out, whether by providing them with obscure charms or first aid. One of her goals is to get rid of the town's fighting and make it a more peaceful, caring place.

Overall, then, she's a somewhat reserved, calm, and caring girl who is at home in the secondary library; her theme's title, "Tea in the Reference Room," fits her remarkably well. Her first appearance is a good example of all of this:


Yukine is first seen when Tomoya is looking for a book on how to write speeches, so he can help out Nagisa. He tells Sunohara, who (always on the lookout for a cute girl to befriend) visits her the next day, with Tomoya in tow. Throughout the series, then, Sunohara and Tomoya (along with other characters at times) visit Yukine in her reference room to discuss topics of interest and sip tea calmly (and give her a starfish). She also provides assistance in interesting ways at times...

For instance, by teaching Sunohara and Tomoya charms they can use. In the same episode where Yukine inspires Sunohara to suggest a basketball game to resolve the choir club vs. drama club conflict over Koumura-sensei, she also informs them of an interesting charm. After performing the charm, the subject must walk around the school, and the first girl who talks to him is the one who likes him. Sunohara does this to no avail (after 5 rounds, no one had talked to him), and when Tomoya tries it out, Nagisa (of course) is the first one to talk (since he stopped Fuko from speaking).

Later on, Yukine also teaches Tomoya the charm that leads to his awkward gym storage room scene with Kyou. Also she unknowingly assists in causing Nagisa's onstage breakdown during the school festival: when Nagisa asks where the videos are of the former drama club (which her father was in), Yukine helps her find them. Watching those videos of Akio adds to Nagisa's guilt, which culminates in the previously mentioned breakdown.

Yukine's real story doesn't begin until After Story. During Sunohara's arc, when he is frantically searching for a fake girlfriend, he asks Yukine. Though she declines politely, a guest does not take it so lightly. A rough-looking young man appears from under the table and almost roughs up Sunohara, until he realizes he's lost his cover, and he escapes out the window, after which Yukine politely asks Sunohara and Tomoya to leave.

A few episodes later, Sunohara, Tomoya, and Nagisa return to visit Yukine, where Sunohara asks her to be his girlfriend for real (she declines instantaneously). After this, a strange, injured young man jumps through the window, and Yukine cares for him. Yukine explains this odd occurrence: her brother is the leader of one of the two rival gangs in the town, and she is friends with them, but she offers first aid and assistance to members of both gangs. Her connection to them can invite a bit of trouble, though, such as when a young boy named Yuu tries to intimidate her into telling him where his sister, who joined her brother's gang, is. Yukine responds to his threats with calm and caring, and she says she'll take him to his sister. While this conversation is going on, Sunohara somehow claims to be Kazuto, Yukine's older brother, the gang leader.

This has ill effects once the group reaches the gang's hideout, and Yuu points Sunohara out as Kazuto. The gang does not react too kindly to this lie. It turns out Kazuto's been in the hospital for a while, since he saved a friend and got in a car accident. While at the bar (the gang's hideout), Yukine explains well how the gang is like a family:

The troubles with Sunohara's claim don't end there. Apparently the rival gang heard about him being Kazuto, and when the group of friends is walking home from the hideout, members of the rival gang attack them, thinking they'll about to get Kazuto. Thankfully, Tomoyo appears (in a bit of a Deus Ex Machina way) and saves them.

Tomoyo then talks to Yukine and the others about the gangs: she warns that if the fighting doesn't settle down, the police will get involved. To avoid this option, Yukine and Tomoya speak to the two gangs about having a one on one showdown between their leaders, with Sunohara being Kazuto. This all seems like it'll work out well, until Nagisa brings her mom's gift of "Hyper Rainbow Bread" and "Ultimate Jam": this combination fells all of Yukine's gang, plus Sunohara. Thus Tomoya has to take the initiative, and he begins a fight with the rival leader.

The fight seems to go on forever, as each fighter keeps getting weaker and weaker, but they won't stop...until Kazuto appears, that is. A covered person appears on the hill above the battleground and charges the battlefield. When he's hit with the first punch, though, it turns out that it's not Kazuto at all: it's Yukine.

She just wanted the fighting to stop, so she pretended to be her brother. It turns out her brother can't come save the day, because he's actually been dead. His gang hid it from the others, not wanting to be attacked as a result of this knowledge. The other gang, Tomoya, Sunohara, and Nagisa are stunned to hear this news. At her brother's grave, Yukine declares her brother's intention that the fighting stop, and the rival gang agrees to this, giving Kazuto reverence as they do so.

After the scene at the grave, Yukine thanks Tomoya, Nagisa, and Sunohara for their help, and she explains something that Tomoya saw at her brother's grave: the lights (I'll describe her explanation in the Effect on the Main Plot section). Following this explanation, she says goodbye to her brother one last time, and her arc ends.

Yukine doesn't really appear after her arc. She's at Nagisa's fake graduation, but besides that, she's only in the final montage, where we see her with her family: the gang.

Effect on the Main Plot

Yukine helps Tomoya and Nagisa's relationship in many small ways: the charms, the speech advice, the videos of Akio's plays. But really, her main plot effect is her explanation of the lights. While in Shima's arc we learned what the lights do, Yukine explains where the lights come from: an equally important aspect of them. In her own words: “Whenever something good happens or someone feels happy, an orb of light appears…It’s not certain what it is. But what is certain is that, that light is a symbol of happiness. If you can get one, you’ll be granted one wish…" Thus we learn that happiness causes these lights; that explains why when Fuko finally got to be in a class, one appeared, or when Kotomi finally received consolation and a final message from her parents, we saw them as well. These were moments of definite happiness for the people involved. Yukine also gives some interesting information: fewer people have been seeing this lights lately, but Tomoya can, and thus she says Tomoya is special (she also says "Okazaki is Okazaki"). That's true: the only time I recall anyone else reacting to a light is when Fuko's light appears: I believe Koumura follows it with his gaze. Most definitely, Yukine's words are key to understanding this supernatural aspect of Clannad, and thus the ending as well.


There's no doubt that family is a blatant theme in this arc: Yukine talks about the gang like a family of those who don't have families of their own, and all the tension focuses on her brother. If Yukine hadn't been so close to her brother, she probably would never have gotten involved with the gang (she doesn't seem to be the gang type), and none of these events would have happened: there would have been no end to the fighting, and Tomoya wouldn't learn about the lights either. Yukine truly has a deep love for her brother, and she has a deep drive to keep her brother's memory alive, first by trying to convince people he's alive, and then by fulfilling his one goal: the ending of the fighting. I find the scene at the grave, where she and the gangs honor her brother's memory, to be very powerful. It shows that the love between family can last even after death (something we see with the Okazaki family later on).

As I mentioned above, the supernatural is present in terms of the lights. There's some self-sacrifice here; in one way, Yukine's giving of her time and talent to help the gang members through first aid and whatnot is a sacrifice, and, in bigger ways, the people who fight for her brother's memory are showing self-sacrifice. Sunohara attempts this (although Sanae's bread takes him out), and Tomoya and later Yukine both go through with this, opening themselves to the possibility of physical pain and possibly serious injury by going out in the battle against the other gang's leader.

The other big theme is breaking out of conventions. Normally, a gang member is seen as a harsh person with no concern for others or common decency. But these gang members, even the rival ones, don't fit that stereotype at all. They can have kind, harmless fun (karaoke? Not your stereotypical gang activity...), and they can be loving (like Yuu's sister). They treat Yukine and others with respect, and she treats them the same way. She doesn't see them as lowly gang members, but as real people and as friends. And the fact that a quiet library girl is hanging out with gangs...definitely not a stereotypical activity for her either.


It's interesting to compare Yukine's experience with gangs to Tomoyo's experience. Yukine's gang friends are kind people who can bring out the best in her. Tomoyo's gang acquaintances, on the other hand, make her a hard-hearted, cold, brutal person. It shows that not all similar groups are equal.

What I especially like about Yukine's arc is the scene at her family grave. Something about the reverence that she and the gang members show really strikes me. I'm not even sure how to describe it...but it's powerful.

Yukine was originally supposed to be one of the heroines of Clannad, but her story ended up being too weak for that, so she became a minor character. I wonder what it would be like for Clannad to have an extra heroine for Tomoya to bypass on his way to Nagisa. How aggressive and appealing would she be in her attempt to attract him? I mean, even here she's got some familiarity with him, like in the somewhat awkward scene where she sleeps on his lap. What would the show be like with Yukine having a more major role? It would definitely be interesting to ponder.

But now that the minor arcs are done, we can move onto the more major characters, at least plotwise. We can't leave Yukine, though, without one last look at her and her gang.

Thanks for reading. God Bless, and peace.

Nota Bene: All clips are from the Clannad Central YouTube channel run by the Clannad (クラナド/Kuranado) fan page on Facebook. All character themes and other music from the show can also be found on said fan page, in the music player. My gratitude to them and all the work they do.

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