I know everyone is upset because Kayo and Hiromi fell in love, got married, and had a precious little angel of a baby (OMG IT’S SO DARN CUTE) all while Satoru was in his 15-year long coma. I get it. Satoru and Kayo had chemistry together. I’d be lying if I didn’t secretly ship them myself whilst reading the manga.
But that’s not the point, and I’m pretty sure that the author, especially after putting in those cute ‘lil moments between them, intentionally decided to have her marry Hiromi.
Why? Because the relationship between Kayo was only a child’s crush, probably stemming from her admiration of Satoru’s courage and boldness (which wasn’t even young Satoru’s original demeanor). Satoru didn’t save her to have her wait 15 years alone (within that span of time, we don’t know if her Grandmother died) without the assurance that he would return. He saved her so that she could live a fulfilling life, with friends, with eventual love both romantic and platonic. By having her meet him with a baby in her arms indicates that she’s reached happiness and her arc, that Satoru basically sacrificed his life for, is finally complete. That’s why he’s crying. Because he did it. He made a difference. That was what Kayo represented for him. Not a potential lover, but the personification of his ability to change the cruel future that he originated from. Seeing her happy and with a family of her own, that was just confirmation for him.
Plus, if ya’ll read the manga, you’d realize (just like I did at this very exact moment) that the way Satoru sees Kayo is not the same as the way he sees Airi. Airi believed in him from the beginning, even when he didn’t believe in himself. Airi trusted him. Airi supported him unconditionally. He realized that in front of Airi, he didn’t have to always be a hero. He could relax and be honest, something he couldn’t even do all the time in front of his own mother (who is the darn best I say, omg don’t even get my started, that woman is amazing).
For anyone is anime-only, the scene where Yashiro stops the papparazi didn’t happen. It wasn’t Yashiro. It was Airi. The scene between them is just marvelous, which leads to an ending that the anime isn’t producing. The anime is showcasing an alternate ending to the series, which I find very interesting, because I feel that they’re not rushing, but instead doing this purposefully since the entire series is based on “time traveling” and “changing the future by changing the past”, and perhaps the small differences in the anime, like Satoru not seeing Kayo return to school and rejoining the gang after she moved away like he did in the manga, is what led to Yashiro entering the scene rather than Airi. Regardless, you really see what Airi means and does to Satoru in these panels:
It was at this moment I realized that Satoru needed Airi in his life. Someone that would protect him as well and would always do her best, not just for herself, but for everyone around her. Someone that would always be an inspiration to him.
After this moment, Satoru begins the process of recalling all his alternate future memories as well as those from when he was a kid.
So I hope I kinda helped everyone realize that Kayo was never meant to be a romantic interest for Satoru. It’s okay, I really did ship them too, trust me on this. But after I saw this scene in the manga, it hit me. Airi is the one that Satoru needs in his life, to support him, to inspire him, to help him. After this, I sat back I thought, “Wow, I guess it’s a good thing Kayo got married and had a kid. It’s all so clear now.” No joke. I have never switched ships before this manga, at least not as fast as I did here. Though I honestly believe the fandom doesn’t give Airi the credit she deserves. :<>
Please do continue to watch the series regardless of ships. It’s just too beautiful to focus only on the couples, because that isn’t what it’s about.
It’s about a man, who thought he was useless to the world, changing the past and saving lives. It’s about a man who made a difference in the world.