Sunday, November 22, 2009

Go **** Yourself Takumi

Without a doubt, my least favourite character in NANA has got to be Takumi. I’m sure many of you would agree with that assessment. His relentless obsession with his business, his harsh treatment of women, and just generally being an asshole. Takumi definitely acts as an example of an alpha male, if the term must be used. He is everything negative that could stereotypically be applied to masculinity in modern society. I’m not going to take a look at why Takumi is so maligned, that much is fairly obvious, but more importantly, why he is written the way he is.
It seems like the first obvious thing to look at are his less favourable actions. His most consistent streak of douchebagery has got to be his treatment of Reira. As what is likely the longest running love story in the series, Reira’s constant affection for Takumi can be traced back to their childhood. It’s painfully obvious that Reira has always had feelings for Takumi ever since he comforted her against the social stigma of being half-American she was faced with in their hometown. However, Takumi refuses to violate her as she stands like a perfect angel in his mind, and his own lack of respect for himself fuels his desire to keep them separate romantically. Ironically, this is causing Reira the most pain, Takumi’s seemingly cold attitude towards her being a result of his deep admiration of her and his lack of respect for himself. When they finally do hook up, it’s entirely to appease Reira, and Takumi’s desires have less to do with his own wishes, and everything to do with making her happy.
Takumi’s relationship with Nana K. isn’t much better either. He deliberately tells her how she can only ever be second in his life after his career (Volume 10, 177). As something that was created to showcase Reira, it becomes clear that putting his band ahead of Nana is the same as putting Reira ahead of her. Oddly enough though, the more time he spends with her, the more she seems to have an effect on him. When he declares to Nana that she is the only one he truly loves (Volume 19, 157), I almost wish he were telling the truth, and in an odd way he may be. He doesn’t feel as though he deserves Reira, and because of that, he deems Nana to be a more fitting match for himself. At least this is the case initially, but he slowly seems to be learning just how one person can love another in spite of perceived inequalities, which may sadly be the death of their marriage, leading him into the arms of Reira. Reira has no problem being Takumi’s mistress so long as she can be with him, which is quite possibly the saddest expression of her love, and the one that finally shows Takumi the depth of her feelings.
As the product of a less than stellar family, Takumi lets himself fall into the role of a juvenile delinquent. The turning point in his life seems to be his effort of building up Trapnest for Reira. This may be the most positive aspect of his life with most of his good deeds fuelled by this effort. Through all the obnoxiousness, Takumi displays some surprisingly kind sentiments. His concern for his staff in the face of Reira’s irresponsibility (Volume 13, 158) is one example of the more admirable qualities Takumi displays when the welfare of others is concerned. Takumi truly does care about those around him, but his greatest difficulty seems to be his inability to adequately express that soft side consistently.
Takumi has difficulties with idealizing Reira, fuels his business with that concern, and is in the process of slowly revealing his gentler side through the help of Nana’s consistent devotion in the face of his bad behaviour. Following the thematic outline presented in an earlier essay, Takumi can easily be observed as a symbol of patriarchal strength. However, rather than simply acting as a villain to the series, Takumi is tied to one of the main characters in a positive way (in the shape of Nana’s child). This seems to suggest that there can be no split between men and women, and that though a society where men are dominant may restrict women, it still does not mean that one position can usurp the other. Takumi and Nana are united as an imperfect couple, but in the world they live in, it may be the best they can manage. However, through their interaction and pressure against one another, both seem to be growing to create a deeper understanding of their own feelings. Ironically, this may eventually push them away.
As a symbol of the male patriarchy, Takumi may be best represented as figure requiring forgiveness. Takumi operates assuming the world is a rotten place, and does what he can for the people he believes are worthwhile, which usually prioritizes himself. Rather than being exorcized from society, Takumi instead embarks down the painful path of redemption. In the process, he seems to finally be acknowledging the love he can feel, sadly split between two women, and he also realizes that his rotten situation is not everyone’s rotten situation.
Reira and Nana cannot wait for their loves to grow up (Volume 19, 160), and so they are fixed to the only man who can offer them more than feelings that are convenient, that is to say, feelings that can expressed regardless of their own problems. Men aren’t quite where they need to be in the world of NANA, and while we may wish Nobu and Shin were capable of looking past their own difficulties, someone like Takumi who cares so little for himself may be the key to allowing women to display their own. That is to say; men and women can only understand each other by putting their own feelings to the side, but as in the case of Takumi, doing so for too long may lead to a coldness to oneself that shatters what happiness is formed in the interim.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, I really like how well you break down the characters. Thanks!

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  2. wow reading this i agreed with every word you said but i still dislike takumi very much

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  3. Im so sad.... I want him to love Hachi more... but yeah.. i think he Loves Reira more than he loves Hachi coz he wont prioritize Trapnest over their marriage.. T_____T

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  4. In the end, I guess its very probable that Takumi will end up with Reira. Reira's been pinning for him since she was a child, and she did state that "no matter who I'm in love with, at the end of the line I love you (Takumi)." And though Takumi sees Reira as more of a sister than a lover, Reira does seem to been the only one Takumi truly cares for.

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