This is basically my thoughts on some of the major relationships in Uraboku. As I mentioned in the review, Uraboku’s strength lies in its characters and their interactions with each other play a major role in propelling the narrative. Here I’ve chosen the six most striking and interesting relationships in the anime to explore.
Warning: Spoilers for the entire anime
Murasame Touko and Murasame Tsukumo
Tsukumo: She subconsciously tries to make promises with me. Just as if she’s desperately trying to be connected to something.
Touko and Tsukumo are a brother-sister Zweilt pair, with Touko specializing in offense and Tsukumo in defense. They are the first Zweilt pair introduced in the story and the only ones to not get an episode or two for their backstory. They seem to be the most balanced of the Zweilts, having deep trust and love for each other. They also act very much like a couple, to the point that I spent most of the show thinking that they were one despite it already being stated that they are siblings. There are several instances where they act in a manner indicative of a romantic relationship. The most prominent ones include the lines where Tsukumo assures Touko that she will always have him when it appears that she might have a crush on Luka, and the scene where the above quote is taken from which basically shows the two exchanging their ties and making promises to return to each other while gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. And then Tsukumo smells Touko’s tie. Can you blame for being confused?
But possible incest aside, Touko and Tsukumo are certainly very close and utterly devoted to each other. While they do have good, friendly relationships with most of the other characters, it is clear that their greatest priority is the other one. I would argue that even with the romantic undertone, Touko and Tsukumo have the most emotionally healthiest relationship in the story. Or maybe I’m just thinking that because the anime didn’t go to considerable effort to show us that these Zweilts had a plethora of problems. Who knows. But as far as what I have seen is concerned, I’d say that the Murasame siblings know exactly where they stand with each other and that their love is mostly free of all the pain and confusion expressed by the other pairs I’ve mentioned here.
Renjou Hotsuma and Usui Shusei
Hotsuma: I only need you.
Shusei: You’re the only thing I think about.
Shusei and Hotsuma are Zweilt Guardians who have been partners for many lives. Battle-wise, they show excellent co-ordination and perfectly exhibit the ability of Zweilt pairs to function as a single being. The second Zweilt pair to be introduced, Hotsuma and Shusei are shown to have had a deep bond from the beginning. The most notable feature of their relationship is their mutual dependence. They met as children and functioned as each other’s sole support while their abilities developed. Hotsuma repeatedly states that he only needs Shusei and asks Shusei to always stay by his side. As for Shusei, Hotsuma is his sole reason for existing, to the point that he gives up the will to live once it appears that Hotsuma no longer needs him. It’s unclear whether such a high degree of dependence was present in their previous lives or is a particular product of the current one.
As with the other two Zweilt pairs, there are overt romantic elements in Hotsuma and Shusei’s relationship. Their undying devotion, all that dialogue about needing each other as well as the aforementioned co-dependency does create the impression that there’s more to them than friendship. But what really sticks out is the sheer intensity of their commitment to each other. Be it Hotsuma’s impassioned declarations or Shusei’s calmer but no less sincere assurances, there’s a layer of desperation to them that helps illustrate their mutual claims of not being able to or wanting to exist without the other. This desperation seems to be toned down a bit once the matter of Hotsuma’s gulit over Shusei’s burn scars is resolved. The final episode shows that while the pain of their shared past has lessened, their relationship itself is only stronger for it.
Furuori Senshiro and Hourai Kuroto
Tsubaki: Are you talking about our engagement? Forget about it. After all it was just an agreement out families decided themselves. We don’t know how it could have turned out. Besides… I have already seen… the two of you…
There’s a good reason why this show is marked as Shounen-ai on some websites… Kuroto and Senshiro are introduced over halfway through the anime, with the former being a partnerless Zweilt and the latter a Zweilt trainee. As with Shusei and Hotsuma, we get two whole episodes revolving around these two, complete with a tragic backstory. Kuroto’s previous partner was killed by a powerful Duras in his past life, leaving him vengeful as well as convinced that he’ll go through life alone. Senshiro belongs to a family dedicated to protecting Zweilts and the two meet as children. Senshiro almost immediately takes a liking to Kuroto that resembles a crush. Kuroto for his part adopts a hot and cold attitude that he seems to retain even as a teenager.
Though Senshiro is not a full-fledged Zweilt when he’s first introduced, he and Kuroto still show the mutual devotion and protectiveness displayed by the other two pairs. Becoming Kuroto’s partner is stated to be Senshiro’s main motivation for becoming a Zweilt, which is implied to be a grueling task. Kuroto explicitly states that he thought he would have to live life alone but that Senshiro changed that. Then we have the above quote taken from a scene where Senshiro’s fiancée breaks off their engagement after he becomes Kuroto’s partner. All things considered, these two come across as a newly minted couple who have yet to fully settle into their relationship. Trust and love are obviously present but a degree of awkwardness an also be seen at times. The battle with Cadenza, which is interspersed with some heated declarations, seems to have helped cement their bond. I guess there’s nothing more affirming than staring death in the face and living to tell the tale.
Giou Reiga and Giou Takashiro
Yomi: Ah, you two are conspiring something in secret again. I guess men are quick to build worlds on their own. You two get along so well, Takashiro and Reiga.
Despite the fact that the majority episode 17 is about Reiga and Takashiro’s past, the one-sided nature of it leaves us with many questions regarding Reiga’s betrayal and the war that followed. We don’t know why Reiga killed half the Giou clan, including the woman whom he clearly considered a friend. Nor do we know why he didn’t try to actually kill Takashiro after an initial half-hearted attack. What we do get to see is the friendship between the commanders of the two opposing sides, plus a Yuki-like woman with a very gentle personality, grow and develop over the years. The anime does name drop betrayal in every single episode so it’s fitting that the whole mess began with a betrayal, even though it’s one that has yet to be entirely explained.
There is not a lot that can be inferred from the show about Takashiro and Reiga except that the two were good friends once but are now out to kill each other. The quote mentioned above, which is heard during Takashiro and Reiga’s ‘final’ fight, captures the essence of it. The flashback does show that the two were comrades who trusted each other. Yomi’s death in particular seems to be largely responsible for Takashiro’s hatred for Reiga. And of course we know as little about Reiga’s motivation as ever. The final episode gives us the most non-hostile Takashiro-Reiga interaction and Takashiro even hints later that Yuki helped them realize their mistakes but all of that only raises more questions. I think this is a dynamic I want to know more of, particularly on Reiga’s side.
Wakamiya Kanata and Giou Yuki
Kanata: I always…I always wanted to watch over you. I thought of you as my real brother. Is this your answer, Yuki?
Kanata/Reiga and Yuki have a pseudo-brotherly relationship that suffers significantly from the fact that they’re on opposite sides of a war. In a way, they both feel like the other has betrayed them. For Kanata, Yuki’s affection for his newfound family and consequent ‘abandonment’ of Kanata is a betrayal while Yuki is grief stricken to find that the boy he grew up with is his sworn enemy. The most fascinating – and somewhat cliché – thing about this is that despite all this, it’s abundantly clear that neither Yuki nor Kanata can bring themselves to hate each other. Kanata is admittedly not the most efficient of villains but even he would have been able to kill Yuki easily a great many times. He tries but they’re mostly half-hearted. And Yuki persistently holds on to the belief that Kanata still cares for him in spite of all those murder attempts. It’s foolish but the reciprocity makes it oddly endearing.
What I personally like about this relationship is that Kanata is pretty much the only person in the show who likes Yuki as he is. His affection is not in any way affected by whatever he felt for the previous Yuki(s). He met Yuki when they were both children, was charmed by his guileless benevolence and ended up genuinely loving the boy. This love persists even after his memories of being Giou Reiga returns and the internal conflict this creates plays a significant role in the plot. Another matter of note is that even though both parties state that their love is brotherly, it often comes across as romantic love. Yuki’s dream of his life with Kanata highlights this quite well. But then, boys being not-so-ambiguously and angstily in love with each other seem to be the norm for this show.
Giou Yuki and Luka Crosszeria
Luka: Both my past and future, everything about me belongs to Yuki.
Yuki: I feel like I’ve known you for a long time.
Finally, we come to the main characters and their relationship. While Luka and Yuki are often the central focus of the story, by the end of the anime, we are left with more questions than answers regarding them. Luka fell in love and formed a contact with Yuki’s past incarnation. The contract as well as his rather extreme devotion is unaffected when Yuki is reborn as a boy. As Yuki has lost his memories of his previous lives, he doesn’t remember Luka but that doesn’t stop him from feeling a strong connection to him. As a result, we have many moments of gazing deeply into each other’s eyes, sickeningly sweet smiles etc – you know, the usual stuff. Unfortunately, aside from the two of them bonding a lot in this life as well, we don’t get much information or development regarding them. Even at the end of the anime, Yuki hasn’t remembered anything and Luka is as reticent as ever to tell him about their past. It’s rather disappointing, much like the ending in general.
One factor I do wish to address regarding these two is Luka’s feelings, or rather his all-consuming and absolutely unhealthy devotion to Yuki. As you can infer from the quote above, he firmly believes that he belongs to Yuki. He even states explicitly that he would gladly die if Yuki asked it of him. While he is shown to be disappointed that Yuki doesn’t remember him or that they were lovers, it’s clear that Luka would silently suffer rather than upset Yuki. Now I don’t know about you but I find this rather fucked up. Luka’s attitude is in no way indicative of a balanced, equal relationship. I don’t have enough information to try and figure out why he’s this way but I would venture a guess that it’s got to do with his past with the other Duras. Hopefully, by the time the manga winds up, this will be addressed and rectified.