School Day’s Kotonoha Katsura: The Ticking Time Bomb

We still have a bit of School Days left to talk about folks! We’ve discussed the series as a whole, given some bite sized opinions, and even talked about the killer opening theme. However we haven’t really discussed any of the character in any level of detail that is common. Honestly, the entire cast of School Days could warrant several of these, but today I just want to focus on the one I think is most interesting. Join me after the cut as I dive into the main heroine of the series Kotonoha Katsura.

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Cute on the outside, dangerous on the inside.

I am really happy that I decided to watch School Days later in my life. Now that I am in my 30s, I find myself able to view the series, its drama and its characters with a full 360 degree of vision. Being so far away from my teenage years has allowed me to get perspective, and life experience. Had I watched this five, ten, even fifteen years ago, I think my views would have been quite different.

The best example is with Kotonoha and her place in the story. Right from the outside, School Days makes it clear that Kotonoha different from the rest of the girls. While Sekai and the others are sassy, interactive, friendly and have a life, Kotonoha is the complete opposite. She is meek, shy, and seems to have next to no one, aside from her sister as an actual friend. She is pretty, beautiful even, but that has not earned her any admirers and instead she is bullied and harassed by Otome and the others. All of that changes though when Makoto confesses to her, and she returns his feelings and they start to date, and that starts Kotonoha’s decent into madness.

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Kotonoha’s biggest ‘crime’ is just being too pretty for a shy girl.

It is clear from the outset of the relationship that Makoto and Kotonoha want two different things. Makoto, as all teenage boys do, wants sex, he wants to get intimate and that is the number one thing on his mind. Kotonoha however, due to her friendless and sheltered lifestyle, is not only completely unwilling to engage in any intimacy, but seems oddly terrified of it. They are two different people wanting, or not wanting two VERY different things. While we never get any real explanation why Kotonoha is like this, it can probably be guessed that she just isn’t ready, and Makoto’s aggressive attempts to try and make her ready don’t work, even when Kotonoha attempts to try to give him just a little bit.

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Kotonoha doesn’t have any idea of how a relationship works, and her naivety is part of the problem.

Now teenage Dewbond would have viewed this as bullshit, and said that Kotonoha should have just sucked it up and started sucking him off, to get over herself and just do it. However adult Dewbond, see things different. While Makoto’s sexual needs are understandable, (I do get it, he’s a teenage boy for Christ sake), that isn’t as important as Kotonoha’s comfort and readiness. If she isn’t ready, then she isn’t ready, period, full stop. A relationship isn’t always about sex, and if what Kotonoha needed was a warm and loving supportive boyfriend who helps her get comfortable and make her feel loved and respected, then that is what she needs, and if Makoto couldn’t or wasn’t willing to wait, then they needed to shake hands and part ways

Which is what Makoto in some ways attempts to do, but that is also where the road to hell begins.

The love-triangle between Makoto, Sekai and Kotonoha, along with the numerous cheating episodes starts to pull the curtain back on Kotonoha herself and reveal that all the bullying, sheltered life and reserved nature has created a ticking time bomb. When Kotonoha discovers that Makoto is cheating on her, starting to stray and cut her out of his life (without actually breaking up with her) Kotonoha starts to become obsessed with him. She constantly texts him, attempts time after time to spend time with him, and follow him whenever she can. It gets to the point that, after Makoto blocks her cell phone number, she starts having conversations with the ring tone, thinking that she’s actually talking to him.

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The lifeless Yandere eyes, the piled up snow on her forehead drive the point home that this girl is losing her damn mind.

It becomes clear that Kotonoha has made Makoto the center of her world, that being her girlfriend is not just important, but it is the complete, absolute very reason for her existence. Makoto is the oxygen she breathes, the water she drinks, the food she eats. To her, there is nothing, NOTHING more important than being Makoto’s girlfriend. So much so that after Kotonoha is literally raped by Taisuke, she brushes off the experience by simply saying she’s not interested in him, and that she is Makoto’s girlfriend, even when Makoto is already involved with several other girls. That frankly, is terrifying, and all of this makes Kotonoha probably the only real sympathetic character in the series. This is a shy girl who never had the support and understanding that a teenager needs in the hellscape that is puberty. A woman who had nothing, who is suddenly given a chance at happiness and clings to it with both hands, never willing to let go. She’ll forgive anything, forget everything, just as long as Makoto is willing to be with her. And even when School Days reaches its final bloody conclusion, it is Kotonoha who ends up the victor, but only at the cost of her very sanity. The metaphorical bomb in all respects, has gone off.

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To see the meek, almost stereotypical Kotonoha end up like this is shocking.

Kotonoha Katsura is an interesting character. Among the sea of assholes that is the cast of School Days, she alone is one character the audience can really feel for. Yet School Days choice to turn her into a insane yandere also doesn’t make her the complete victim, because she, like everyone else in the story, refuses to accept the truth. To sit down and be open and honest about her feelings and accept that yes, relationships don’t work out, and that’s OK. It’s a tragedy in all regards, but also one where everyone, from every side, doesn’t have their hands completely clean.

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The cruel irony of this shot. The ‘happy couple’ sailing off into the sunset is the PERFECT ending to both the series, and Kotonoha’s character arc.

5 thoughts on “School Day’s Kotonoha Katsura: The Ticking Time Bomb

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