Loving Kikyō Kushida (and Other Really Bad People)

I am Kushida - it's just that the people around me might not know it.
ayanokoji and Ichinose

We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves

– La Rouchefoucauld “Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims”

The opening card from episode four of Classroom of the Elite is an intriguing one because the first half of it seems to point obviously at certain characters – Kushida, especially, but also Horikita and newly introduced characters Sakura and Ichinose. The second half, about hiding from ourselves…the question is who is that referring to? Ayanokoji? Horikita? Someone else?

Or is that phrase speaking to us?

Honami Ichinose

Oh no…another girl with secrets? I’m rooting for you to not be a dirtbag, though, Ichinose!

As Classroom of the Elite moves into episode four, there’s a weird shift that’s happening. The episode begins in a different classroom with different students and a different teacher than we’ve ever seen before, and the show begins a new mini-arc, pushing us off the trail of the heaviness of last episode’s reveal. But certainly, Kushida’s genuine self is still fresh in our minds, and I could only think about the ugliness underneath her exterior every time she came on screen. There was a tension there, whether in my own mind or intentional, whenever she shared time with Ayanokoji, and it spoke to me asking, “How would I feel if I was Ayanokoji and knew what she really was?”

I know exactly how I would feel – I’d be disgusted, bitter, and angry. There’s a self-righteousness within me that would rise in thinking that this girl is playing with me and putting me under her thumb. But further, she would feel like garbage to me. She is someone so vile, scheming and deceiving while standing right next to me, even as she knows that I know. Yuck. Like literal garbage, I would be repelled, wanting to get away from her.

kushida and ayanokoji

Ughhhhhh…PLEASE, Kushida…

Have you ever had someone like that in your life, someone who is so obviously a person of poor morals but acts like she’s wonderful? I have. I’ve worked with a person like Kushida, and it always made me feel a little sick, as if I was catching some sort of deceitful contagion by being next to her. I didn’t want to be in the same room!

But Ayanokoji isn’t like me. We’re privy to some of his thoughts, but instead of this harsh judgment, he just analyzes, thinks, and even shows grace. But how can he do that when he was threatened by Kushida just days (the night?) before?

I wonder if it has something to do with the last half of that quote by La Rouchefoucauld: “We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.” I wrote about how I preferred Horikita to Kushida because I felt she was truer to herself, which reminds me of how often I lack sincerity, with myself and with others. Like Jacob with Esau (and practically everyone else in his life), I’m a deceiver, too. I hide the my ugliness, the corruption I succumb to quite often, and instead show the world a better version of myself. I am Kushida – it’s just that the people around me might not know it.

So if Kushida is “garbage,” what does that make me?

Thankfully, something much more, but not because of who I am. It’s only because of that which changes everything – even the heart of a deceiver. It’s only because of the “last best word.” It’s only because of grace.

And because I stand on that, there’s hope, even for those of us who hide the truth from even ourselves.

Otaku. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Meg Ryan movies. Self-anointed sushi chef. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Forever stuck in the 90’s. Thinks the 80’s was better than it was. Jesus is King.

11 Comments on this post.

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  • Samuru
    3 August 2017 at 12:58 pm

    That’s why I do my best to be upfront with everyone. I am who I am, however I seem to come across to others. I just act myself, though of course more proper and a little reserved when the situation calls for it (a meeting, or a place where I should listen more than give my opinion).

    But yeah, I have worked with a couple people like that. They didn’t like me, because I called them out on their annoying tendencies….so yeah, I’m that guy 🙂 I can be a little confrontational.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      3 August 2017 at 1:05 pm

      We all need people like you in our lives haha – that helps us keep things real, in groups and situations as well as in our interpersonal relationships.

      Leave a Reply
  • Luminas
    7 August 2017 at 12:24 pm

    It’s hard to know where I stand, exactly, with a character like Kushida. The chief characteristic of many autistic people is that we suffer from the total inability to replicate her deception. That is, there are very few autistic people who can confidently lie about themselves or anything else for that matter. You wouldn’t think that a tendency towards total honesty would be a bad thing…until you realize that we live in a world that’s propelled forward by polite dishonesty. Everyone who interacts with others hides how they really feel and think, putting forward “their best self” or most socially acceptable self. A person showing what they really think ends up offending a lot of people.

    I realized that I could get around my problem by essentially “riding on,” or vicariously experiencing, the confidence of a charismatic liar, by being that person’s associate or minion. It’s hard to be afraid of how people will think of you, and easier to deceive, if you’re metaphorically sitting in the horde of a dragon, or on the back of a tiger. But I still think, on the whole, it is better to have the ability than to lack it.

    “I know exactly how I would feel – I’d be disgusted, bitter, and angry. There’s a self-righteousness within me that would rise in thinking that this girl is playing with me and putting me under her thumb. But further, she would feel like garbage to me. She is someone so vile, scheming and deceiving while standing right next to me, even as she knows that I know. Yuck. Like literal garbage, I would be repelled, wanting to get away from her.”

    To make your way around a deceiver, you have to not protect yourself against them. That alone throws the liar’s usual methods into disarray, because they *expect* people to. Ayanokoji is making the smartest tactical move by half. With all that said, it’s interesting that you realize/acknowledge the Kushida in yourself here, and wonder what your disgust at her means about you. My own demon lies in the very thing that protects me in these sorts of situations: the possibility that I would laugh giddily at a murder, if the murderer was a friend. Perhaps it’s worse to not be able to play Kushida’s game.

    Leave a Reply
    • Luminas
      7 August 2017 at 12:33 pm

      I don’t know if all of that made a ton of sense (being more stream of consciousness and less an argument), but those are my thoughts (and disturbingly honest thoughts, at that) in the wake of this post. I don’t think either of us are the worst this species has to offer…but we have our sinful natures, still, and they open the possibility of temptation towards depravity. I’m lucky in many ways that the people I chose to have around me also have a vested interest in keeping me out of trouble. :]

      Leave a Reply
      • TWWK
        10 August 2017 at 10:42 am

        No, it did make sense, and it gave me a lot to think about. Particularly, I think about my son – I’m not sure if he’s on the autism spectrum (I don’t believe he is), but he is honest to a fault. It’s something I frequently tell him I admire, and then get frustrated at, and like you, it’s as aspect of his personality that he’ll need to address somehow, and maybe in multiple ways according to situations, throughout his life.

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        • Luminas
          10 August 2017 at 11:42 am

          I wish your son the best of luck. The trait has done me more harm than good over the years, making it something of an interesting tradeoff for being unable to lie convincingly. (Except when telling a completely unbelievable tall tale, precisely because it has zero relation to an event in reality, but that’s another story for another time). I know you’ll do a great job of figuring out how to bring him to a solution. : ]

          Leave a Reply
          • TWWK
            10 August 2017 at 4:45 pm

            I shall try. Thank you for the words of wisdom and experience!

  • MithrandirOlorin
    7 August 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I’m watching this Dubbed so I haven’t gotten to episode 4 yet. So I may be back here in a couple weeks.

    Leave a Reply
    • TWWK
      10 August 2017 at 10:43 am
      • MithrandirOlorin
        10 August 2017 at 10:57 pm
  • MithrandirOlorin
    20 August 2017 at 1:46 am

    This episode had some Yuri in it, that always makes me happy.

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