Michiru Kaioh is Unapologetically Terrible: An Appreciation Post, Part Two
(Fair warning: This goes pretty in depth about emotional manipulation and abuse. If that squicks you, you’re better off giving this a pass.)
So, this scene. Yet another scene that’s eternally engraved into every Harumichi fan’s heart as ‘the one where Michiru is a player, Haruka is adorably possessive, and they have the world’s most obvious dressing room sex after the scene cuts away’. And it is by all means a totally delightful scene, but what I don’t often see acknowledged is that fact that it is entirely fueled by Michiru’s terribleness.
Let’s break this down, shall we?
Michiru is in her dressing room after a show. She is clearly awaiting Haruka— when there’s a knock on the door, she chipperly exclaims “Come in!”, and then expresses surprise when Seiya is the one to enter instead. Now, this is the part where the average person would say “Hey, I’m waiting for my partner, can we talk a little later?” or engage them in a brief, friendly chat until the other person arrives.
So of course what Michiru does is immediately ask Seiya to help her undress.
Now, Michiru has absolutely no intention of getting it on in a dressing room with Seiya. So why? Because the way Michiru’s brain works is this: Oh, Haruka will be here at any moment. What will rile up Haruka worse than seeing a man in my dressing room? Seeing a man in my dressing room, taking my dress off. She doesn’t even have to stop and think about it. This is the immediate course of action that comes to her mind.
And that is exactly what happens. Haruka enters, Usagi in tow, and is understandably pissed. Now, she might be wanting to ask Michiru some questions, such as what the hell why is that asshole undressing you, for example, but Michiru quickly and cleverly removes all blame from her person by introducing Haruka as her “precious person” (which, in Japanese, sounds a lot more unambiguously gay than the subs made it out to be).
Seiya’s instant reaction is to back off with a “woah there”, and they even lightly scold Michiru for her “poor people skills”, which is quite possibly the most accurate assessment anyone has ever made about her character despite the way she flawlessly glides through every social situation and effortlessly plays people (and her girlfriend in particular) like a fiddle.
Anyway, Michiru’s heartfelt and totally spontaneous exclamation of love ensured Haruka could not possibly remain mad at her, but it sure as hell doesn’t do anything to relieve her anger towards Seiya, whom she unabashedly kicks the fuck out.
Seiya bows out. Haruka turns to Michiru, clearly peeved.
Look at Michiru’s smug grin. She’s mocking Haruka for being jealous. Really, Haruka, how can you be so unreasonable? After she clearly told Seiya you’re her insignificant other and everything.
Before taking her leave as well, Usagi apologizes for Seiya, saying that even though they can act rude, they’re actually a good person. This coming from darling, purehearted Buns-head, also known as Haruka’s one other soft spot, makes it especially effective, and Haruka, fresh out of people to blame and mocked by Michiru for her jealousy, is left feeling like the asshole.
Look at her face! She looks guilty. Sounds it, too. She was going to explain, maybe even apologize— but Michiru, smiling pleasantly, presses a finger to her lips and poses the question to the correct person this time:
Like this, Michiru comes off as the mature, reasonable party, while Haruka is on the same level as a small child throwing a completely baseless tantrum. Now, Haruka’s jealousy and possessiveness are often on the extreme side, and her behavior isn’t always the most reasonable — but knowing this, Michiru set things up exactly so that she’d get to watch Haruka throw that fit, and make herself out to look superior. Haruka’s reaction in this case was completely justified — and it would’ve been endlessly more so if she knew the intentions behind it — and yet Michiru still made a mockery of her feelings, for no apparent reason other than she gets a huge kick out of it.
She loves watching Haruka get riled up. She loves it all the more when she’s getting riled up over her. And when she’s the one who set it up, proving for the umpteenth time she has Haruka well and truly wrapped around her little finger? Well, isn’t that just a delight.
Haruka is possessive to the point of controlling, but she is also incredibly straightforward about it, in a way that seems more bark than bite— if Michiru wanted to go against her will, she would have no problem doing so. Michiru, however, is possessive in those elaborately-planned, invisible ways, which charge through right past the point of controlling and land square on unhealthy territory. I think part of it is about making it up to herself for the past — for such a long time, she had to watch as Haruka went and flirted with people in front of her, her feelings right there on the surface but both of them knowing they must be ignored, and she couldn’t do a thing about it, because Haruka wasn’t hers. Now that Haruka is hers, she’s never going to let either one of them forget it.
Don’t get me wrong, I obviously love those two dearly, and I believe they complete each other, and help each other grow in a lot of meaningful, wonderful ways. But they can also be downright poisonous towards each other. They’ve hurt each other so much before they helped each other get better, even if they both consider the pain they received from the other a blessing. (“You killed the person I was”, Haruka says in the CD drama, and sounds genuinely grateful.) And even in Stars, where their relationship is much healthier, it still has stuff like the entire situation described above, and they’re still largely shut off from the rest of the world and existing primarily in their little codependent bubble, even it’s expanded a bit now to also include Setsuna and Hotaru.
If I had a friend who was in a relationship like this in real life, I’d tell them to hightail right out of it. But for those two, as fictional characters, it just seems to somehow work. They’re both fucked up people, but their respective fucked-upnesses seem to complete one another into a surprisingly functional whole, and they both seem strangely content in their perpetual bullshit-and-mindgames feedback loop. I can only hope that as time passes they will continue to grow as people and improve their relationship, and maybe someday even learn to communicate with each other at face value instead of pushing each other for the reactions they want. Especially, needless to say, Michiru. As things are, though, by the end of the series, even with their happy little family unit, it’s obvious they’ve still got a very long way to go before they can aspire to the romantic ideal so many fans seem to perceive them as.
And I don’t know that I’d wish this kind of relationship on anyone, but for them, it’s a big part of what makes them so thoroughly fascinating.
To me, this is one of the most telling scenes about Michiru’s character. Again, it proves that she’s possessed of a crippling doubt that she can’t confront head on. She wants Haruka to show her she loves her, and she’ll use any manipulation in order to do so, because it resolves her doubt, and finally makes her happy. .