A rough continuum of affection
@pennyinheaven’s post teasing apart the different strands of how Ryuuzaki actually feels about Yashiro has inspired me to set out a rough, highly disputable, but at least organized continuum of how “Saezuru” characters feel towards Yashiro, from love all the way to hate. (What’s rough and highly disputable is not just the characterizations of people’s feelings, but also their ordering as closer to or further from paradigmatic love and hatred.)
Doumeki is in love with Yashiro, of course. With (unusually) extra helpings of both possessiveness and “I will not just do anything for you (protect you with my body, apologize to someone I think badly of and resent because he’s the closest you have to family and then ask him to visit you in the hospital because I think it might help you wake up), but also do anything you suggest, saunas in Ueno, porno called ‘The Impotent Cop Sets His Sights on Gaydom,’ whatever.”
Unnamed Hirata subordinate who wears dog-tags and at least one past subordinate of Yashiro’s at least thought that they were in love with Yashiro, though from what we can see it was a relatively shallow love in the former case at least.
Misumi loves Yashiro but has never been in love with him. He loves him in a way that has elements of paternal (“something like Yashiro’s foster parent”) and fraternal care and responsibility, residual sexual attraction and possessiveness (in a straight line from “I’m the one who owns you” to “I know everything about you” and “become mine once more, Yashiro”), a friendship of many years’ standing, and the peculiar pride a boss takes in his most capable subordinate in an extremely hierarchical, honor/face-based culture in which subordinates’ and bosses’ reputations reflect on each other (Japan but more particularly yakuza). He found Yashiro intriguing from the beginning, more so when he observed the sole exception to Yashiro’s deep “hatred of humanity”, and in the present considers himself useless when it comes to that troublesome guy, relating to him differently than to others because he is so charmed by Yashiro. Even when insulting him, he remembers and uses Yashiro’s favored term “pervert” rather than “okama” or “homo,” epithets which Yashiro had rejected. From the beginning he tries to help Yashiro get along with other people because he simply likes him as a person, even though he also despairs of him frequently – or more like constantly (“a cute guy with no ambition,” “don’t disappoint me,” “oh, you – that’s …” when Yashiro jokes about having been raped, “you should want people to understand you,” etc., etc.). And we now know that he thinks of him as something short, but not too far short, of his “other half.”
Kageyama thinks of Yashiro as a close but not equal friend – someone he has to take care of because Yashiro has no one else. Like Misumi calling himself “useless” when it comes to Yashiro, he describes himself as “soft on” Yashiro (“and I end up forgiving him everything”) or “helpless” to reject even though Yashiro irritates him (often with such transparent deliberateness that even Kage can see that he’s trying to get a rise out of him). Yashiro goes to Kageyama rather than a more suitable doctor and then haggles over money he can afford to pay in full, pushes him into the arms of his love (“don’t I just owe him even more now?” says Kage) but then bugs their bedroom, and generally doesn’t act much like a friend, but Kage still sees him as one.
Ryuuzaki has some features of being in love with Yashiro – he is fond of him, attracted to him, protective of him – but which don’t add up to loving or being in love with him. He also publicly treats him with contempt. A few things to add to @pennyinheaven’s account: If he isn’t interacting with Yashiro directly, Ryuuzaki treats him as a colleague who’s capable in business but provokes people unnecessarily, foolishly. When they were young, Ryuuzaki looked for Yashiro after Misumi had kicked him out into the snow naked and bruised, and missed him enough to ask after him when Yashiro stopped coming over to the Matsubara mahjong parlor. Ryuuzaki is obvious enough that at least sharp-eyed Misumi responds to Hirata’s attempt to camouflage his own responsibility and blame Ryuuzaki for the attack on Yashiro with utter incredulity, and with the memorable principle that “you don’t put out a hit on someone who usually teases you into a hard-on.”
Nanahara’s peeking fines are piling up.
Sugimoto seems to view Yashiro solely as a boss.
Sex friend cop doesn’t hate having to rely on Yashiro, but doesn’t particularly think of him as a human being, either.
Kuga is bloody sick of being kicked out of his apartment, manipulated, and spied on by someone who resentfully views him as a rival in a game that person gave up playing when Kuga was in lower school. He finds Yashiro’s care and shyness around Doumeki endearing, but that won’t stop him from harassing Yashiro via Doumeki. He flat-out disliked Yashiro before Yashiro did anything bad to him and he’s seen no reason to revise that view.
Shark and apparently many other people associated with Doushinkai just think Yashiro’s weird and no good. This is true even to some degree of Misumi’s stepson-cum-right-hand Amou, and probably much truer of members of other groups.
Inami (the brutal senpai of Yashiro’s sex friend) loathes yakuza in general and heaps additional manly scorn on Yashiro.
Hirata hates Yashiro, of course, but more than that he hates that he has to take Yashiro seriously enough to hate rather than simply scorning, looking down on him. Will the fire of a thousand suns that Hirata wants to direct towards Yashiro ever be quenched? PROBABLY NEVER. Why not? Well … that part’s gotten too long, so I’ll do a separate post about why Hirata hates Yashiro so much. Hint: it’s not just that there’s nothing more unmanageable than the envy and jealousy of men.