I may just get you Haruka Shitow

Do you ever have relationships with characters?

I don’t mean the “this is my waifu or husbando” kind of relationship, or the “that guy/gal is super cool and I’m infatuated with their coolness” type of relationship.

No. What I’m talking about is that friend who you’ve known your entire life. The person that you knew during their goth phase and they knew you when you were totally into My Chemical Romance. You might hate them and then love them and then feel like you completely don’t understand them.

The color completely returns

You know all of their flaws, even the ones they won’t admit to, and they probably know all of yours even though you don’t believe it.

That is the kind of relationship I have with Haruka Shitou from RahXephon.

It’s obviously one-sided since she is a fictional character, but it’s no less complex. I started off infatuated, I became disillusioned and now… well, I don’t know. I see her flaws, I see her strengths, but I’m just not sure what to think about her anymore.

This is why I think she’s perfect fodder for a blog post.

A woman of two times

Haruka is a lot like many of the characters in RahXephon. She is defined by her trauma much in the same way that Kim, Kisaragi, Nanamori and Kunigi are.

When the Mu stole away Tokyo, they took away not only her home but the only boy she ever really loved. That theft left Haruka with a piece of herself stuck in the past.

The show goes out of its way to demonstrate this. First of all, she is the only character with a watch that tells the time in both the outside world and inside Tokyo Jupiter.

She is also paired with clocks in the opening. Itsuki tells her that her clock stopped. Then there is a really big spoiler that I will put in the next paragraph.

Close up on Haruka's watch

(Haruka is basically split across two characters. The older Haruka and the younger Reika Mishima who represents the Haruka that Ayato loved. She is literally split into two separate times.)

Since she exists in both times, she is one of the few people who sees Ayato as something more than just where he’s from or what he can offer. This is what I meant when I said that the fundamental conflict on a personal level is between Haruka and Maya.

Maya loves Ayato and wants to protect him, but ultimately doesn’t really see him as a person.

While in the final episode, she chides Haruka for making Ayato suffer, I don’t think Haruka is really to blame. I think he suffers because he learns that his world was a lie, and then that the world he fled to was a lie.

Haruka’s love rescues Ayato, but it kind of dooms her as a character.

Behind every strong woman

It’s that love that made me fall in love with Haruka to begin with.

When I first watched RahXephon, I was a young 27. I wanted to believe that love could transcend time and space. I wanted to believe that there was someone out there who would secretly pine for me for 13 years.

That is what I loved about her. She was dedicated to saving her boyfriend beyond all reason. She even crossed into the past of Tokyo Jupiter to rescue him.

She literally transcended time and space for her man.

This is a really clever shot

As I grew older, I became more frustrated than enamored by that idea. Haruka is easily one of the most capable people in Terra, but she is defined by Ayato. Everything she does is for him, and she just kept pining for him.

What started off as seeming noble and romantic turned into something that was just pathetic. Really, what beautiful and intelligent woman would sit around for 13 years waiting for her man to reappear.

Maybe this woman exists, but I’ve never met her.

It got to the point where I would dread the scenes with her before Ayato flees to Tokyo. She kind of got better toward the end, but even then I had a hard time with her just collapsing and needing to be pulled up by Megumi in the final episode.

For a woman with so much backbone in other areas, this felt like the one place where she had none, and I really wanted more from her.

That was in my early 30s.

Now in my early 40s, I see Haruka from a different perspective.

Relative anime age

Haruka Shitou starts RahXephon at the ripe old age of 27. This is remarkably old for anime, which seems to either love for its characters to be teens or gray-haired ancients.

This is to say that even in my early 30s, I don’t think I was old enough to appreciate what Haruka was really searching for.

It’s hard to really grasp what it is to lose someone really dear to you until you do. In my 20s and 30s, I had been remarkably tragedy free. I did lose my grandparents when I was young, but I was never close enough for the loss to hit home.

This shot is unexpected

When I lost my dad though, that was a different story. It’s a constant kind of ache. It’s always there, but you end up accepting it over time. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I don’t wish I could talk to him again though.

That’s what I imagine Haruka’s relationship with Ayato is. It’s a constant loss. The swelling has gone down, and the pain has dimmed, but it’s never really gone.

Having him be so close, but seem so unattainable must be heart-wrenching. It would be like having a dead loved one return, but not know who you are.

This is where I’m torn. If I look at it logically, most people I know would have moved on sometime in their 20s. I don’t know anyone who is defined by a relationship they had at 14. That just seems ridiculous.

But if I look at in the light of my own experiences, I can understand how that kind of loss could define you. I could see how someone might never let go of it, and carry into the rest of their lives.

That’s why I think I’m ready to be friends with Haruka Shitou again.

I get it. You’re OK. You really, really are.

So what do you think? Do you have any characters that you’ve had a strange relationship with that has changed over time?

As always, thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “I may just get you Haruka Shitow

  1. I feel real empathy towards R. Dorothy Wayneright. She is loyal, loving, and protective, but those noble qualities only get her misused by the man she loves. Oh, Roger is quick to turn to Dorothy when he wants some attention, but tosses her casually aside whenever some more “human” female sashays across the screen. At that point, she becomes just a machine; her complex emotions, mere programs. (Big O!’s Roger is easily one of the most despicable “heroes” I’ve seen us saddled with in anime. A real cad. A real piece of work. A real piece of sh_t.)

    It’s especially painful for me because it highlights how people often use my badge as an excuse to toss aside my contributions: “He’s a cop, so it’s just his job. It doesn’t mean anything.” Like I can’t care because I wear a uniform. But the final nail? The fact that Dorothy’s treatment by Roger reminds me of certain attitudes a much younger me had about a certain girl. I, too, grew in understanding as I grew in age, and sometimes the mirror is neither kind nor forgiving. . .

    1. Huh? But this is a post about Haruka! Although I’m a big Big O fan and totally agree with you. This is why Dorothy is constantly calling him a louse. She’s not lying, she really means it!

      1. My response was to the initial question about feeling close to a character and why. And while there are a number of characters about whom I feel that way, R. Dorothy popped into my mind because she, like Haruka, is a woman of two times and yet finds herself attracted to a man who fails to recognize her love and what it could provide the two of them. . .

  2. I watched Rahxephon at 17 – perfect for the series. Again in my late 20s, at Haruka’s age. Now I’m 32 and rewatching it with a friend.

    I often think about why Haruka couldn’t let Ayato go. I don’t think the age they met at had anything to do with it. If you meet your “soulmate” at 17 or 93, do you love them any less? If you feel like this is the only person you’re meant to love, thee you can’t love, then age doesn’t matter at all. I think a lot of her inability to love on was because 1) her entire happy life was entirely ripped away from her and uprooted.

    She lost her her home, her school, her friends, even her dad, not t to mention the love of her life. And Ayato WASN’T dead. She knew that. So how easy is it to move on from that? Especially when you know you have a chance to get back there to him. Haruka worked her entire adult life to make that dream come true. How many people wouldn’t want to try to get someone they love back, if they knew they had a chance still. Being so focused on that one goal, it’s obvious that it’d be near impossible not to have a great deal wrapped up in that. To not still be wrapped up in Ayato, in her dream.

    Haruka moved on from a great many things. She found a new home, new friends, new school, even moved in with her uncle and left her parents behind. But Ayato was the one thing she could still change. That she could still get back. She tried to move on from him, but she still loved him and he was still out there.

    He wasn’t something she HAD to move on from. She had her hope and dreams. Haruka is a sentimental person and this is shown to be her one “flaw”, as noted by Megumi.

    Haruka isn’t defined by Ayato, though. We see her throughout the series going out on her own shopping, researching the foundation, meeting with Futagami, meeting with Sayoko, working hard even at the beach, going out drinking with friends, running for exercise in the snow, chatting and trying to make friends at the vending machine. Ayato isn’t there in any of these situations. Ayato is always seeing her through the lens of someone who can only watch her and not really participate in her life at first BECAUSE she is so independent. He notes that she’s always so busy and hard working.

    Haruka is a skilled, strong, professional woman with a life of her own. It’s obvious that as much as Ayato is her weak point, he’s her strength too. She is this amazing woman because of her love for Ayato. She does not cling to Ayato, or try to force herself on him or guilt him or lash out in bitterness at anyone. A great foil is Sayoko who truly let her longing for Itsuki define her in every way and destroy any other relationship she could have had. She has no life outside of him and constantly has mental breakdowns. And Itsuki who longs for Haruka is also relatively isolated, but we also see that he has a life of his own too.

    We see many characters long for each other, but how many handle it as well as Haruka? It may be hard for other people to see it from their perspective. Haruka is a loving, big sister type. Her kindness, ability to love and help those she cares about is who she is. It’s her biggest strength, and it’s why she’s able to be so amazing in the first place. Ayato sees those traits and that’s why he falls in love with her twice, in both time lines.

    Someone like Ayato would never be truly interested in a weak woman like that – he holds no interest in any of the girls around him who try to depend on him, or get to his heart in other ways. Haruka literally minds her own business, and uses love as her strength to propel her forward. And she’s not clinging to a lost cause – but to the one part of her past that still exists, that she can still change. She was powerless to save the love of her life before, and unlike all the other characters, she spends all her efforts saving him now. Protecting him from all harm, while asking for nothing in return.

    She only has breakdowns when she feels like she’s lost him again – a clear PTSD response. That’s not weakness, that’s psychological. To grieve for loss… That’s human.

    Ayato observes who Haruka is through her actions that she takes for others – that’s why she’s the won who won his heart every time. There’s nothing remotely pathetic about that to me.
    Unlike the rest of the characters, who all end up in a bad way and are unable to resolve their feelings, Haruka and Ayato are a glowing example of how being allowing yourself to be ruled by love doesn’t make a woman or man weak, but can be used as a strength to conquer anything.

  3. To answer your question posed at the end, I actually had a similar relationship with Ayato. Because I was about his age when the show was on, I judged him harshly and idealized Haruka. As I grew older, I began to understand his reactions were valid especially for a young kid his age. By now, I see Ayato as an amazing young man who truly grows into his potential and I realize how much he also represents my parts of my ideal for guys, and how that probably explains why my reaction towards him wasn’t good at first – I had a lot to work on with me.

    Out reactions towards characters tell us more about ourselves than the characters!

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