Did you know that swans are monogamous? I realize that my veritable wellspring of useless information seems to be acting up again but it is because of this useless little fact that swans are generally regarded as symbols of love. You see they only choose one mate and will stay with that mate for life. While it is just basic animal instinct to do so it nevertheless mirrors the whole “true love” phenomenon that we as a species love to glorify. Right, I had a point here and that point is that I could see no better representation for the character of today’s focus than that of a swan.
Now, while this article is indeed heavily steeped in the idea of love it has never really been a subject of positive repute for this writer. Kind of always been along the lines of “Scorn me once shame on me, scorn me twice shame on you“, though that saying doesn’t really cover the next four or five times. Anyway, with that being said since this isn’t exactly an opinion piece on the subject, but rather a character connected firmly to it, I shall withhold my tongue this time around. Still it’s hard to ignore the mass amount of attention the character of Rokumeikan Kaori receives. No matter what she and the idea of love simply go hand in hand. I suppose that’s why she’s Jetman’s White Swan.
-Warning: There are things past this point that are spoilers. You’ve been warned, so don’t come complaining if something gets spoiled for you.-
When I think of Kaori’s base personality in accompany to how she was raised the first thing that comes to mind is the whole Nature versus Nurture idea. Being from a family of wealth Kaori’s social skills as well as her personal tendencies and outlooks stem from her well provided for environment. For example she experiences what I’ll call for the moment “rich girl syndrome” in which she is somewhat ignorant of the more lower class qualities and is prone to complaints and dependency on others as she is not accustomed to doing tasks involving manual labor for herself. That being said because of her natural qualities of innocence and kindness she is not forceful of others and is sympathetic to their needs. She also surprisingly displays hesitance towards the spending of her money and is virtually without a sense of greed, at least not for money. It’s because of these counteracting qualities that the idea of Nature versus Nurture actually becomes rather difficult to define for her. No evidence from her family would suggest that she had been raised with the traits of humility and lack of greed, but rather with properness and nobility, so I am to assume for the sake of this article that these traits do not derive from any form of nurture but are rather just naturally defined traits, a topical debate of which would stem far beyond the confines of this character.
As I stated within my analysis of Tendo Ryu, Kaori is one of the other members of the team that were not militarily trained but were rather civilians caught in the crossfire. Due to this she displays so sense for combat and is probably the most hesitant of the team to learn the more physically demanding aspects of being a part of the Jetman project. An example of this comes as the team attempts to become educated in the logistics of piloting their jets, an act that becomes a very negative experience for Kaori. As I stated before she is accustomed to being with hired help that would care for the more laborious aspects of her life and while her heart is in the right place to want to help she is nevertheless very resilient towards piloting her jet on her own. This resilience is also extended from her own fears as she seems to become very panicky when faced with the need to interface with technology and just simply becomes in over her head. Part of this most likely stems simply from her lack of understanding in those areas, most likely due to her catered to lifestyle. Other examples of her resilience to manual labor would be the shirking of her physical training as well as her negative feelings toward helping with basic or menial tasks.
While she is a bit resilient towards hard work and basic tasks she is still a very kind hearted person that wants only to see the best for the team and the world. It’s true that she didn’t want to work towards bettering her abilities but it was actually Kaori that was the only one of the four civilians to accept joining the team without any sort of bargaining or coercion. This is more or less attributed to her wish to help others but can also be viewed as a sort of lack of insight on her part as she had not fully prepared herself or thought of the consequences of the decision that she had made.
In addition to this kindness she also displays a sense of civility so to speak as she is not really one to speak out of line, be insulting, or even just generally raise her voice. Through and through she remains a relatively quiet person unless of course it comes to drastic or threatening situations. She has been shown to step out of character and deliver verbal criticism or raise her voice should a situation desperately call for it, such as if her friends are in danger or troubled emotionally. This overall trait of hers is something she has been shown to try and implant onto the others as seen during several occasions were she attempted to get Gai to act in a more proper and respectful manner. While this has worked on several occasions, as with her teammate Ako, it usually comes with some resistance if not simply outright ignored from such people as Gai.
As I said before Kaori is one to be quick to panic in the face of danger or even just urgency. She’s often not very reliable with taking on or holding off enemies on her own and is admittedly not very quick witted when it comes to acknowledging her ability to transform during dangerous situations. This often leads to several of the other members needing to protect her which only serves to further her need for dependency on others. When it came to the situation with piloting the jets Kaori did eventually rise up to the challenge of piloting but unfortunately due to an attack directed at her she ended up crashing. The incident left her traumatized to the point were she temporarily lost the use of her legs. This loss of her legs is an easy thing to describe but a tricky thing to really detail and understand in full. The basics of it are that Kaori had what is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which can affect a person in various ways and temporary paralysis is one, though a rather slim, possibility. While she was not medically injured it was the psychological trauma that removed all confidence from her and caused her to believe that she was no longer of the ability to move her legs. Think of it this way, have you ever been so scared that you couldn’t move? The stress and the anxiety just bore down on you with all of your muscles tightening and even though you know you could move there was still that invisible force that kept hold of you. That is in a very basic sense what Kaori experienced during this time and while it did negate her inclusion in the team for some time it was eventually through a sense of urgency, ironically enough, that she became able to overcome this hindrance of hers and once again take on the challenge of piloting her jet.
Now you’ll notice I’ve been avoiding discussing one major aspect of her character so I shall begrudgingly begin discussing it here. Kaori is very much the draw of attention for the men on her team, as well as many outside of said team. While her natural attraction is not necessarily a personality trait it is still cause for some concern and conflict at times. At most times actually, as she frequently comes under much focus primarily from Gai who’s not so subtle advances are often a source of tension and confusion for her. This is especially the case when she reveals her love for Ryu, an event that raises conflict between the three resulting in many breaks and resistance from within the team. While it is never Kaori’s intention to cause so many rifts within the team her presences is unfortunately still the major cause of this. Her presence and her honesty to be precise. See Kaori really isn’t one to lie or hold in her feelings and as such she often flaunts her love for Ryu in front of the other members, especially Gai, which causes many of the rumblings that hurt the team’s moral. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with her honestly it usually never arises at the right times, that being said she has still been shown to resist hurting other’s feelings despite being honest and has even been shown to help keep the team together by talking sense into them, albeit on rare occasion.
I’m stalling again, the major aspect for Kaori’s character is of course her capacity for love. As I said she’s a very honest person and very open about her feelings and the topic of love is the primary subject of her focus. Like a swan Kaori chose her true love from the very instant they met, setting her eyes solely on Ryu. While this feeling was not initially mutual she still showed off the biggest commonly shared trait amongst all of the Jetman team, dedication. She is certainly dedicated to the team and the cause, no doubt, but it is her dedication to her love for Ryu that stands out for her the most. So much so that most of who she is becomes sole dedication to him, almost blindly so at times. Nevertheless she is sincere in her feelings towards him and very rarely wavered, with a few exempt moments of course.
The first of these moments comes from an event in which Ryu acts as if he is taking her on a date, in reality he is taking her to the grave of his dead lover whom he still deeply loves. Seeing that this was in a sense meant to teach her a lesson Kaori’s heart becomes broken and she temporarily doubts her love for him until finally resolving to not give up and to help Ryu move on. The second trip up comes during a situation in which she is captured and meant to be used as a sort of sacrifice. It was during this time that Gai came to her rescue offering the sacrifice of himself in place of her. After this event Kaori shows a grown attachment to Gai that for the time being somewhat over shadows her love for Ryu. This situation eventually finds a resolution but I shall hold off on that for now until I reach my details on Kaori’s relationships. Past all of that though it is pretty hard to deny the sheer amount of focus that Kaori as a character puts towards love throughout the series.
Throughout the team Kaori shares a fairly positive relationship with most of the other members of the team. In terms of Ako and Raita she shares a rather strong friendship with the two and both plays a motivational role as well as draws motivation from them. The most important relationships she has though would be in the cases of Ryu and Gai. As I’ve stated numerous times already Gai has always shown a great deal of affection towards Kaori though the same could not be said for her. While she has shown to become very dependant on Gai’s protection she had never really shown the same levels of dedication to him that he had shown her or that she had given to Ryu. Despite this Gai has often stood as a shoulder to lean on for her in her times of need and she does display a great deal of appreciation for him. This appreciation and her natural kindness caused her to show a great deal of sympathy towards him and while she does not share his feelings she does understand the pain of loving someone who does not share such feelings. In a weird way she is the one that best understands Gai’s situation despite being the one to really cause it.
Over time this sympathy almost begins to blind Kaori’s perception of the situation, in a sense causing herself to believe that she truly has feelings for Gai. At one point she even states that she wished that she had fallen in love with him so that things would’ve just been easier. This feeling came on from both the sense of sympathy she has for Gai as well as stress from her own non-mutual love for Ryu. In short, she was attempting to find a way out of it by trying to convince herself that Gai was who she should love rather than who she really did love. As such the two eventually became a couple for a short time despite the constant doubts running through Kaori’s mind. Gai in turn apparently sensed this from her and would often grow hesitant towards her. To sum up, their relationship was built more on guilt, confusion, and desperation than it was anything related to love and while the two cared for each other it was simply never meant to be. While it’s not specifically stated how their relationship fell apart it is show that the two still maintained a very strong friendship three years later.
On the other hand in the case of Ryu the emotions displayed by Kaori were always very strong and honest. The two shared a mutual respect and relied on each other in times of need but the relationship was always stronger on the Kaori side of things than on Ryu’s. While she was certainly dedicated to him and saw him as a person to rely on that position would often befall Gai instead, as Ryu’s emotional troubles often kept her at arms length. Despite this and Ryu’s numerous attempts to make her see the truth of the matter, that he did not love her, she nevertheless remained strong in her convictions towards winning him over. Interestingly enough while she displayed a great deal of sympathy towards Gai’s love for her she never always showed the same amount of sympathy for Ryu with his love for Rie. In fact she at one time even saw Rie as an obstacle to overcome in order to reach Ryu. While this level of dedication is admirable I cannot say it’s overly healthy. Despite her fooling herself into loving Gai it was actually the more reasonable and mentally healthy solution for the time as opposed to the blind dedication and reliance on a person that by that time had no interest in ever changing their views. While it worked out in the long term with Ryu the fact that she entered into a loveless relationship with Gai was probably the most healthy solution for her as it removed this irrational dependency on another person and grounded them in reality towards what really mattered. While that relationship was never bound to work out it was nevertheless a necessary setback in order to help Kaori grow as a person. Past it all though Kaori and Ryu eventually became a couple and were married three years later. While the situation surrounding this was not shown in detail it was still shown to have been a very mutual love.
Overall Kaori isn’t exactly the strongest willed person I’ve written about and is probably the most stereotypical in terms of female characters. Despite how misogynistic I may sound throughout this article Kaori still stands as having several positive traits that make her overall character stand out even just a tiny bit more among the rest of the Jetman team. She is a kind and dedicated person and while she shows a high level of dependence on other’s she is still shown to be her own person, capable of pulling the team out of the fire on a few occasions. She may not have started as the perfect choice for the team, or even a good one for that matter, but through her development and reliance on her team she managed to grow as a valuable member, supporting the team regardless of the dangers they face within themselves of in battle.
While I cannot say in all certainty that the symbol of the white swan was used on purpose in the case of Kaori‘s centered focus on love, it is still a rather perfect example of the theme to Kaori’s overall character. She is a being who’s sole dedication is to love. Be it love in the romantic sense, through friendship or even love towards the world as shown in her contributions to the team. While her development as a person was small her showing of dedication towards her dreams were still in a way kind of inspiring. While this writer cannot and will not sit here and explain to you what love is I can say that Kaori is most certainly a person who understands it in full. Whether it be mutual or even irrational I think in a weird way Kaori is one of the most realistic representations of what love is capable of within a character.