The Four Relationships that shaped Fushimi Saruhiko
Or, the three times Fushimi Saruhiko had to deal with geniuses and the one time he didn’t
What sounds like the subtitle to some random fanfiction is actually my triumphant (har har) return to the K fandom after who knows how many years.
People who know me will be aware that I cannot re-enter a fandom without analysing the shit out of everything and this will mark my first character study thing in this fandom.
A study of parallels, foils and compliments. Fushimi Niki, Oogai Aya, Munakata Reisi and Yata Misaki.
So first off, a small thing I noticed about Niki, Aya and Munakata. They’re all three geniuses and trolls, but all three of them use these traits in different ways and affect Saruhiko differently throughout his life. They all challenge him and they all troll him, but they all have different motives and motivations.
There’s also a keyword I’ll bring up a lot: Challenge.
For that, I have a small scale that I like to call the Jerkass Scale. We’ll start with the top of that Scale, where the most Jerkassery happens.
In other words, we’ll start with Fushimi Niki.
Niki is Saruhiko’s father, an almost unparalleled genius, handsome and well aware of it, and a malicious troll. He torments his son for no other reason than to see him react, uses his genius as an excuse to waste away in his unhealthy lifestyle, neglects his child until he needs a solid laugh and is overall just a really crappy person. Saruhiko was terrified of him and his whims and thus it comes as no surprise that the only thing I regret about his death is that Munakata didn’t stab him in the face.
Niki challenged Saruhiko in a way that marked him for life. He didn’t only challenge him intellectually but mostly emotionally. Through fear.
Good riddance, jerkface.
Second on the Scale, in Misguided Neutral Territory, is Oogai Aya
Aya, like an apparently very big chunk of her and Saruhiko’s family, is a straight-up genius with zero social skills. As one of two kids in her age group, she tries to get Saruhiko’s attention by challenging him in harmless though no doubt annoying ways that do the exact opposite of making Saruhiko look at her. He doesn’t care about her challenges or her desire to prove herself. It’s boring and all something he’s seen before, stuff he already knows.
When she realises this the apparently inherited troll breaks out in one of the nastiest ways possible. By reviving Fushimi Niki.
Despite this Aya is not a bad person, she’s misguided and desperate. A sweet girl who grew up in the same family that created Niki, a dysfunctional heap of brilliant minds and no parenting skills.
She fits neatly between the absolutely disgusting individual who was Niki and the only part of this troika who did everything right.
Munakata Reisi, a Genius among Kings
Just like Niki and Aya, Munakata is a genius. Contrary to them he doesn’t only use his genius to benefit himself. Instead of spending his entire time being a lazy prick or trying to make an impression the completely wrong way, he uses his considerable intelligence for the good of the people, to uphold order and peace.
He too challenges Saruhiko on an intellectual level, through the puzzle during their first one-on-one for example, but does so in a way that allows Saruhiko to meet him on neutral ground. The puzzle has no meaning other than seeing and understanding the extent of genius on both sides.
Munakata understands Saruhiko is on a different level than him but instead of being condescending he allows Saruhiko to use his own head to solve his problems. Munakata uses his genius to help Saruhiko in subtle ways. “You might have caught a cold.” A virus. “I’ll give you a tip but you’ll have to do the rest, as I know you can.” It’s the groundwork for a relationship built on complete trust and understanding.
He makes an effort to understand Saruhiko as a person and not as a potential asset to his Clan. And he doesn’t stop making an effort once Saruhiko is part of his Clan.
Saruhiko is caught in a mindset that things aren’t made to last and that you will always lose what you care about. Munakata challenges that mindset by refusing to let Saruhiko believe it. At one point Saruhiko builds a sandcastle and then stomps it flat because it’s better if he does it than to wait for the tide. Munakata responds by drawing the blueprint of Scepter 4 headquarters with his powers. “We’ll build the best sandcastle ever and I will use my powers so that nothing can ever tear it down.” Because even if he’s subtle, Munakata is never subtle.
But Munakata is a troll too, only different. He teases Saruhiko relentlessly and does so with an almost childish glee but never in a way that would make Saruhiko uncomfortable. And Munakata genuinely enjoys it when his favourite trolls him back.
No, Captain, it’s not a ninja.
The Irregularity, Yata Misaki
Fushimi Saruhiko grew up around geniuses and people who only needed him when they wanted something from him.
Until Misaki came along.
Straightforward, enthusiastic, childish kinda stupid. Yata Misaki met Saruhiko in a time of need and with no thought or goal rushed in to save him. And that describes Misaki perfectly.
Misaki saw Saruhiko was a genius and that he was alone and wanted to befriend him. Not to use him, not to be seen by him, he didn’t want anything.
He just thought Fushimi Saruhiko was awesome. He just wanted to make him smile.
Yata Misaki never looked before he leapt, he just did what he thought was right. Save a stranger from bullies? Done. Befriend him because why not? Of course. Move in with a friend to get him away from his abusive home? Absolutely. Ask anything in return? No.
Misaki and Saruhiko couldn’t have been any more different but they had one thing in common. They were social rejects, people with no place in society. So they found their place in each other. And they would have done anything for each other.
For Misaki there was never a bigger goal. There was just that friendship he treasured, that friend he wanted to protect and make happy. Nothing else mattered, not even his pride when he begged Suoh Mikoto to save his friend. No one had ever begged for Saruhiko before, so of course it was Misaki who did.
Misaki never wanted to challenge Saruhiko. He wanted to challenge the world with Saruhiko.
Because in his eyes Fushimi Saruhiko was the one who could change everything.