Happy Valentine’s Day! This appears to be the first special V-day editorial posted, so I hope you enjoy reading my…unromantic rant. I need to stress that people who have not played Shinigami to Shoujo may not want to read this at all. All the more so if you plan on playing the game. Not only would this be filled with game spoilers, but you may be confused at what I’m driving at if you have not played the game too. That being said, I’m not forcing anyone to play the game and you are free to continue reading! And of course, you do not have to agree with my opinions. Spoilers are plentiful from here on.
Before I go on, I would also like to add that Tooya’s identity is confusing – while the game states that he’s a shinigami and some of his “tricks” included erasing Ao’s memories, he’s also an illusion created as a reflection of Sayo’s heart and only certain people could see him – so sometimes what I write may wander between those lines too. As much as I want to believe that Tooya existed, he only seemed to exist within Sayo too.
But the point of this post is not to debate what Tooya is, but as to why I love him.
To be honest, I never thought deeply about this before. Rationally speaking, I suppose how the story opened up to highlight that Tooya’s consistent devotion to his younger “sister” is simple (yet not that simple too) played a huge role. Emotionally speaking, Tooya’s route and that one scene in Ao’s route later gave me so many “feels”, that I still tear up at them even though more than a year has passed since I completed the game.
What do I mean by simple?
The easiest way to describe Tooya is that Sayo is his everything. Her words are his everything, and he always believes in them. Sayo was the one who gave him life, his name, taught him words, emotions and basically everything that he is today. Tooya loves her, and wants to protect her.
If you look at the ending PV for Tooya and Ao’s routes, there comes a part where Sayo is sitting down and reaching out her hand and each of the guys will appear. (Looking back, these same promotional illustrations that appeared in Dengeki Girls’ Style were so telling!) Hinase is holding the clock tower key. He is the one who eventually gave Sayo this key (no pun intended) to open the door to the truth. Nanaki is the only character looking straight ahead (and at you, the player), which I believe is due to the fact that his role is to see through each story as a bystander. Ao is sitting down and reading a book, presumably Shinigami to Shoujo as that was the story which connected him and Sayo (and Tooya). Lastly, Tooya appears, with his hand outstretched to Sayo. There is no mistake or coincidence here. Tooya reaches his hand out to Sayo, just like how he has always been supporting her all this time.
He will do anything for Sayo’s happiness – even if it means disappearing quietly. In fact, Tooya believed that Sayo finding happiness with someone else and for him to disappear quietly was the best and most painless way. I do not mean to say that the other guys did not love Sayo, they all loved Sayo in their own way. But Tooya does everything for her. It is easy to get suspicious of their relationship at first. As how all the other characters have commented – they are extremely close for a brother and sister.
Here is where the “not so simple” part may come in.
Tooya is an illusion created by Sayo out of her loneliness. When he first appears as a shinigami, just like she had always longed for, they “replay” the Shinigami to Shoujo story. Tooya was stiff and emotionless before, till Sayo started to get attached to him and eventually confused him as her older brother. When she smiles, he smiles. When she cries, he cries. If she wants him to be a brother, friend or lover, he will become these roles. But as an illusion, even at times when he wants to protect her, he cannot. At times, it even makes things worse as everyone sees Sayo as a liar. As much as Tooya wants to save her, he cannot and this is shown in Tooya’s ending when Sayo dies. Even though in the epilogue, the both of them awaken to a happy ending just like the one in Shinigami to Shoujo, it is up for debate whether it was a real miracle or not.
Having given him his name and everything else, Tooya once mentioned how every time Sayo calls his name she gives him “existence”. And so naturally, Sayo is his everything. You cannot separate Tooya from Sayo. But that is not the same for Sayo. Tooya is not her everything and the time would come when she no longer needs him. This is shown by how he always has to disappear in someone else’s route, and Sayo eventually forgets about him. Of course, the only exception is his own route. And even there, he begs for Sayo not to die at his hands. However, she wants to be with him and it’s through him that she found the most beautiful word.
Yes, it is questionable whether Tooya’s love for Sayo can be considered as “real” since everything he does is like a reflection of Sayo’s desires. Tooya himself admits this but even so, he wishes for Sayo to believe that his love for her is real. Personally, putting aside all of the questions about Tooya, I want to believe that Tooya’s words and actions are his real feelings. And so I guess, the depth of his love for Sayo was what made me love him, and what moved me to cry a river of tears. If not, that would just be too pitiful and only gives me more reason to cry over him.
Just as Sayo said after she had to say goodbye to him in Ao’s route, even if he was an illusion and everyone else said that he was never there to begin with – to her, Tooya did exist. Just as Sayo said in Tooya’s route, if he’s no longer a shinigami and neither a human – then he is simply the most important existence to her and the one she loves the most.
So to me, Tooya was the one who loved Sayo the most and sees her as the most important existence too. And with each time I see how he does everything for her happiness; it makes me love him more and makes me want to wish for his own happiness.