Sunday, August 8, 2010

志麻賀津紀 (Shima Katsuki)

"I will continue to love you for the rest of my life...forever and ever..."


Shima Katuski is a very minor character (in terms of screen time) in Clannad; he only appears in Episodes 5 and 6 of After Story. His story is inseparably wound within Misae's arc.

Personality

Shima is a typically shy young boy who is also determined to fulfill his duties. When he is given a task, he strives to finish it, even if it means physical harm to him. He can be a bit clumsy with words at times, but at heart he is a good kid, trying to as be kind and truthful to everyone as possible. There's also a bit of the romantic idealist hiding in him too.

Story


As I mentioned in my introduction, Shima's story is seen in the context of Misae's arc; the two are inseparable. One day, when Misae is in high school, Shima appears abruptly and tells her he is there to grant a wish for her. After she takes out her frustration on him distracting her from her crush, she listens to what he has to say. Some time before, he had been in the hospital, and Misae was at the same hospital visiting a relative. When she saw him there, looking dejected, even though she didn't know him, she cheered him up and offered him encouragement. He's kept that gift of hers with him all the years since then, and now he has come to repay it. Misae doesn't remember what she did, so she tries to blow off his offer of a wish, but Shima is persistent.



As Shima is always hanging around school, waiting for Misae to tell him her wish, people start to notice him and his hanging out with Misae. One of these people is Misae's crush, Igarashi. He tells Shima that he already has a girlfriend, and he knows Misae likes him; he asks Shima to break the news to her. Unfortunately, Shima has grown to like Misae, so he tries to tell her the truth hypothetically: what if there's a girl you like who likes someone else, but the guy she likes has a girlfriend, and you have to tell her the truth? Misae says that the guy should take advantage of her distress and comfort her. Shima objects that he can't do that, and Misae (after seeing Igarashi with his girlfriend walking by) finally realizes who he is talking about.


Misae walks away from this encounter, and it seems that her and Shima's relationship is on rocky ground. Thankfully, it doesn't stay this way forever. The two start to hang out more, and even fall in love (slowly). During this time, Shima learns that Misae is the student council president, and he wants to see her in action, but he's not a student at the school. So two of Misae's friends dress him up as a girl and sneak him into the building, where (after running into younger versions of Yuusuke and Kouko) he gets to see Misae, and he confesses he will stay by her side forever. Of course, since he's dressed as a girl, the moment just seems strange to her.


After this strange episode, Misae's friends convince Shima to take them to his house, because they're interested in seeing it. When they get there, his mother says that Shima has been dead for a while now. Then the boy we know as Shima tells the truth: he is not Shima Katsuki. Instead, he is a cat whom the dying Shima send to fulfill Misae's wish, in gratitude for all she had done for him in the hospital.



Shima (more precisely, the cat we know as Shima) doesn't tell Misae this, though, and the two continue to grow closer. At the autumn festival, Misae finally requests her wish: that he love her forever and ever. He agrees. Then, as Misae goes to get drinks for them, Shima walks away and disappears, and Misae is left distraught.


The tale doesn't end there, though. The story jumps forward to Misae first becoming the dorm mother at the high school, and her trusty cat, Nanashi ("no name"; also called Nana-kun), is at her side. A series of scenes appears, in which she says she hasn't dated anyone, but that she's not holding out for Shima (she doesn't admit it, at least). And at one point, she stares at Nana-kun, pondering, and then rebukes herself for believing in something out of a fairytale.

Then Tomoya wakes up. This entire story was revealed to Tomoya in a dream he had when he fell asleep at Misae's apartment, with Nana-kun in his lap. Nana-kun asks him to tell Misae these things.

When everyone is at the autumn festival again, Nana-kun comes racing out of nowhere, and Misea follows him. While she's trying to get him out of a bush, Tomoya reveals the truth: Shima has always been by her side; he's fulfilled her wish. He's returned to his real form: that of a cat. She accepts this and says she'll "go on a date with a cat."



As the episode ends, we see a little into Shima's mind: he says goodbye to his master, the real Shima, saying he has fulfilled his dying request, and now he has a new master.



And of course, now that we know Shima's really Nana-kun, we can see that he's been present throughout the series. His final appearance is (where else?) by Misae's side.

Effect on Main Plot

Like I said in my post on Misae, this story doesn't really have a direct influence on the plot. Tomoya calls it "a wonderful love story," and it has some aspects of great love, but it doesn't really play a direct part in Tomoya and Nagisa's relationship. The one thing is the fact that the lights are mentioned here (explained slightly more in the next section), and those lights are crucial for the ending.

Themes


I talked about some of themes of this story already in Misae's post. Now that we've looked at Shima and Nana-kun being one and the same, we can see a couple more. First is (what else?) family. We don't see any biological family for Misae; during one short scene, I think she talks to her mother on the phone, but that's about it. Instead, Shima is her family. He lives with her, and he has dedicated himself to being by her side forever. Shouldn't all family be that dedicated?

Another theme is the supernatural. There is no logical explanation why a cat could become a boy for a short time and then become a cat again. For that matter, how can a cat be rational and have the ability to think, speak, and love? This story just cannot be explained using science and the natural world: there has to be the effect of the supernatural. It's a very explicit effect here, and I think this use of the supernatural is one of the reasons Liam Francis Traveller calls this show "a modern-day fairytale." Like the other supernatural moments, it's preparing us for the ending. Plus we see, again, the theory of the lights in this arc; when Nana-kun is first talking to Tomoya, he tells him about the light in a pouch that can grant a wish.

Reflection


Shima and Misae's story is probably one of the most touching in the entire show. If you're a hopeless romantic like me, you can't help but be moved by this display of commitment and love bypassing time (and even logical reality). I've heard many people say that this arc is their favorite moment in the show, and I think that's mainly because of Shima. I think he is the truly touching one; obviously, you couldn't have the arc without Misae, but it's really Shima's actions and bring home the romance. I especially love the commitment present in this story (which I think this song exemplifies well); true love must of necessity involve commitment. That's a crucial aspect that I think many people can forget about. This just shows one of the reasons I love Clannad: it shows true love, including the aspects many people leave out. One of these is commitment, so I am just ecstatic that we see that here.

Shima's is a story that can kind of throw you for a loop. I've heard a lot of people describe Clannad as "the most realistic romantic drama I've ever seen." In the end, though it contains many realistic parts, it's not entirely realistic (or, at the least, not entirely rational). This arc is one of those moments that shows that this series is not a story that could easily happen in real life. This story involves the supernatural. Whether it's plausible to actually happen is debatable, based on your views, but one thing is for certain: there's something going on here outside of the natural realm of reason and logic.

Overall, though, I've truly come to love Shima's arc and the commitment and love shown in: it's truly beautiful.


Thanks for reading. God Bless, and peace.

Nota Bene: All clips (except the link in the reflection, which I highly recommend watching) 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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