If I’m right, AND I DON’T REALLY WANT TO BE RIGHT, their final moment together doesn’t even get to be a private one, but one only fringing on the true affection between them. But the FLOATY BUBBLES SAY IT ALL, OK.
YOU CAN MEASURE FEELINGS IN FLOATY BUBBLES ALONE, AND LOOK HOW MANY THERE ARE.
The third panel is the most striking of them all, because I’m so sure that it’s their final touch. It’s an unusual angle with an unusual focus, and I think it’s emphasising that the end of this last gesture between them is their final goodbye. As he drops her hair for the last time, they will never see each other again. I just don’t know which one of them it is that’s about to die.
Hopefully not both but YOU KNOW HOW CLAMP IS. YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.
And then Kuropapa’s off to face his fate.
AND BLESS KUROGANE’S LITTLE HEART, HE WANTS TO GO TOO. BECAUSE HE FEELS ALL THE SAME FINALITY THAT HIS PARENTS DO BUT FROM WITHIN HIS EXTRA SPHERE OF POWERLESSNESS THAT SCARES AND FRUSTRATES HIM BEYOND WHAT HE KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH.
SO HE WANTS TO HELP. HE WANTS TO DO ALL HE CAN TO TRY AND STOP ANYTHING BAD FROM HAPPENING.
BUT THERE IS NO WAY HE WILL BE ENOUGH.
No-one would ever be enough.
It kills me how even in this, Kuropapa does it in the nicest way possible.
He recognises the feelings Kurogane is having and affirms them. He acknowledges that Kurogane IS, in fact, strong, instead of taking the other possible route and insisting that he’s not strong enough. Because here, too, he knows that this might just be the last moment he gets, and he uses it as a moment of love and encouragement
AND THAT LITTLE HEAD TOUCH. GET OUT OF HERE.
There is no way this is anything but the last thing Kuropapa ever gets to say to him. There is NO WAY.
LOOK AT THE ART OK. THE NINJAS ARE ALL FADING AS THEY TURN AWAY AND WALK INTO THE DISTANCE.
THIS IS IT. THEY’RE ALL GONNA DIE.
It’s so clear just how much these final words chained themselves around Kurogane’s heart and never left him. Even during his darkest days in the future, his obsession with strength always stemmed from this, and it’s so easy to guess that his bitterness and focus on revenge could have stemmed from an inverted version of this final statement that Kuropapa gives him.
Kurogane, at his worst, sought strength to make up for the family he didn’t couldn’t save in this moment.
Kurogane, as he grows to a better and healthier version of himself, realises that he has more family to protect, and also that he himself might also be worth protecting.
But even just here, in this one moment, Kurogane’s father’s words work on so many levels. Kuropapa does what he does to protect Kurogane, his wife, and the entire clan – even when the odds are very heavily implying that he won’t be enough. Kuromama too does what she does to protect them all. Her health is failing her, steadily slipping away, and yet she insisted on the final blessing to save her husband, because her strength too is all focussed around saving the ones she loves – her husband AND her entire clan, and everyone else in the country that relies on her.
And that’s what will hit Kurogane so hard later. Not only because losing his family in a horrible and violent manner is one of the worst things that could ever happen, but also because in his eyes he failed in the same basic tenant that holds his family together. He wants to go with his father to help protect Suwa, but he can’t. He’s meant to stay behind and help protect his mother, but he doesn’t manage that either. His strength, while recognised fondly by his father, is not enough – was never going to be enough. And that’s exactly what sends him into such horrifying spiral of murder and revenge and a desperate clawing need to reclaim some sense that he could have made a difference.
AND JESUS CHRIST WHAT IS SYAORAN GOING TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION. HE’S ALREADY READY TO THROW HIMSELF UNDER A BUS TO RESCUE EVEN A SLIVER OF SAKURA’S SOUL. WE DON’T NEED TO ENCOURAGE THESE TENDENCIES WITHIN HIM ANY FURTHER THAN THEY ALREADY EXIST.
But actually, now that I think about it, that might be all the difference. Kurogane’s arc in the manga overall (so far) is slowly healing and allowing himself to recover. I have a lot of confidence that he’ll pull it off, because he’s come a long way already, and he’ll be all the stronger to protect his new family.
I just hope that it’s the new Kurogane that has the biggest influence on Syaoran and not the old one. Because Syaoran needs to allow himself to heal as well, and I’m convinced that he doesn’t even know it yet.