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Shipping: Sorata x Nanami (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo)

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In my heart of hearts, I’ll always support Sorata x Nanami, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Sakurasou is one of those rare cases in a story where I actually give a hoot about the main character’s love life over the beta couple. A lot of it had to do with how I could relate very much to what Sorata was going through at the time. I’ve since gotten over it, more or less, but I don’t deny my shipping of Sorata x Nanami was driven by personal feelings. I didn’t want to see Sorata beating himself up because he didn’t think he would ever be good enough for Mashiro. I wanted to see him with Nanami, who accepted him and who he felt he could connect to as an equal. At the same time, it’s a doomed ship and I can never under any circumstance see it happening.

It’s been a while since Sakurasou finished airing, so I’ve had some time to mull over the love triangle and this is what I’ve come up with. Before I can really expound on why I like Sorata x Nanami, I feel as if I need to write a few words of explanation about Sorata x Mashiro first.

A Relationship Between Equals

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Sorata and Mashiro’s relationship is practically built around this idea of inequality. Physically, Mashiro is completely dependent on Sorata, but mentally, Sorata is inferior to Mashiro. He puts her on this pedestal, seeing her as this aloof genius who motivates him from afar. Either through obliviousness or sheer insensitivity (I see it as a bit of both) he refuses to acknowledge Mashiro as a girl. Frankly, Sorata’s feelings of ineptitude are a huge barrier most of the time. Unless he can bring himself to accept himself for who he is, I don’t see him ever really accepting Mashiro as a lover despite his ginormous crush on her.

I do see this situation between them improving somewhat by the end of the series, but Sorata is just a guy who is easily discouraged from anything he tries. As soon as he fails, he starts lashing out at Mashiro. He can’t separate his feelings of love from his jealousy.

The point, of course, is that you need to love yourself before you can really love another person. Sorata and Mashiro’s hookup scene is held off on that very principle. The point isn’t whether or not they will hook up but the why and the how. If I view this as a story, I would be mad with anything but a Sorata x Mashiro endgame.

But, assuming this was real life and Sorata came to me asking for advice, I would tell him to pick Nanami instead.

If you read my other shipping posts, you might be picking up a trend here. I like relationships that lack a heavy emotional burden. The important thing about Sorata x Nanami isn’t that they are equal – it’s that they perceive themselves as equal. They relate to each other a lot. They don’t feel intimidated by the other’s talent and they inspire each other to work hard. While Sorata has all this budding chemistry with Mashiro, his relationship with Nanami is much less dysfunctional and much more likely to survive in the long run.

When Sorata is with Nanami he is less of a tsukkomi and more of an actually normal teenage boy. Now make no mistake, I love Sorata as a tsukkomi character. But in a series full of wackos he needs to have someone nice who will keep him sane. I like the side of himself that he shows around Nanami. He’s less frustrated, more self-confident, kinder, gentler.

I think this really hit me during the Valentine’s Day episode. The sheer extent to which Sorata put everything aside just to help out Nanami when she was in trouble touched me deeply. It’s times like that which make me realise that for all his plot-induced stupidity, Sorata really is a bro, and it’s not hard to see why Nanami would fall for him.

But of course, this is a pairing that will never happen, because for all the camaraderie he has with Nanami, Sorata is fixated on Mashiro, and that will never change.

But What If Sorata Never Met Mashiro?

I have a headcanon for this. Would Sorata have fallen for Nanami if he never met Mashiro?

Since I ended up imagining a really elaborate scenario here, I’ll show it instead of tell it. The following is an abridged excerpt from a longer story I wrote, The Colorless Green. It is a bit long, but it should draw out the situation fairly evocatively:

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Sorata finally managed to get out of Sakurasou in the fall by finding a kindly old lady two suburbs away who was willing to take care of his cats. “Make sure you feed her lite milk, not the full cream,” he said to the cat’s new owner. “Hikari likes crabsticks a lot, but only give them as a treat! Hikari, I’ll visit you every week, okay?”

“Kanda-kun, you really love cats, huh?” Nanami said to him afterwards, laughing. “I think one day you’ll be a darling old cat lady yourself.”

“I’m not getting a sex change anytime soon, thanks.”

“Oh, I was complimenting you!” Nanami insisted. “I think you’re very kind. I think that’s really nice to see in a boy.”

“Not really,” Sorata mumbled, scratching his cheek. “I think you’re the nice one.”

“Um, really?”

“Really.”

They laughed a little awkwardly at that and cast frequent glances at each other when they were on the train. They made a habit of doing this every week whenever they visited Hikari and the other cats.

At that time, Sorata did not feel entirely satisfied with his life. At first, he had been ecstatic about leaving Sakurasou. Yet deep down, he found himself – not missing Sakurasou exactly – but feeling somehow bored. Like he was waiting for something to happen that never did.

His life drifted along more or less aimlessly. He was still a sophomore, so there wasn’t much point thinking about entrance exams. He played video games during his free time and sometimes he came up with ideas for a good game in his head, though he never wrote them down. His parents sent him an allowance, so he didn’t need to work. Inevitably, his mind turned towards girls. He found himself getting closer and closer to Nanami as the year progressed. Eventually, she eclipsed all other thoughts.

Characteristically enough, it took him a long time before he could make up his mind whether or not he liked her. He decided that he did during the school festival, when he felt relieved after hearing that Nanami had turned down their classmate Miyahara, who had confessed to her. Of course, after that, he could not bring himself to make a confession of his own for fear that she would reject him too. He figured it was okay like this. At that time, it was impossible to imagine Nanami out of his life.

“It would be great if you could achieve your dream,” he would keep saying to Nanami.

And she would smile and thank him and tell him she’d keep working hard.

Time continued to pass. The anticipation of seeing Nanami at school made his boring, colourless days more bearable. One day, instead of finding her in the classroom where he expected her, she was gone. Anxiously, he looked all over the school for her. But she wasn’t there.

So he asked her friends. They looked at each other uneasily before they answered him.

“She’s transferred out,” they said, and Sorata’s heart sunk.

“What do you mean? Where is she?!”

“She failed her audition.”

“No…”

“She’s gone back to Osaka. Her parents never approved of it. They only gave her one chance.”

No…”

Sorata was numb. He turned around and quit the conversation.

He spent the rest of high school in a sort of daze, not remembering anything much. Nanami had not told him that she had failed. She had left, leaving no burden of responsibility or guilt upon anyone. She had kept all her pain and sorrow to herself. It was so like her. He had never felt so betrayed.

At the same time, he knew what he should have done. He should have told her all his feelings sooner. Then she would have trusted him with all of hers. The two of them had reached a converging point in their destinies and he had not acted when he had the chance. Now it was too late.

As the years passed, he felt less bitter about what happened, but the faint tingling sense of regret still remained. He never did experience that sense of crushing disappointment Nanami must have felt that day she learned of her failure. He never committed himself fully enough to be hurt so deeply. Sometimes, he found himself wondering what Nanami was doing from time to time, but as the years went by, he thought of her less and less. She became just another amalgam of his regret, needing no name or face.

Then, three years ago, just before he had moved into his flat, he got a letter from Nanami. She was getting married. She had tracked him down to ask him and a few other old school friends to come to her wedding. It was like a high school reunion, except he didn’t know half the people at the ceremony. He stuck with Miyahara and talked about old times. When Nanami came by, her face a perfect picture of a blushing bride, Sorata said, “Congratulations.” He meant it.

Later on, during the reception and after the two of them had had a few drinks and loosened up, they talked about their high school days together.

“Did you know?” she said to him, her face red from the alcohol. “I had a huge crush on you back in high school.”

“Same here,” he admitted. They laughed about those old feelings. They had been in love with each other but had never told it to each other. How silly that was!

Then she told him what had happened to her dream about becoming a voice actress. After finishing her higher education in Osaka in adherence to her parents’ wishes, Nanami had went back to Tokyo and tried, once again, to pick up a few voicing roles. It never became her primary occupation, but she did manage to have supporting roles in a few obscure anime. And that, to her, was enough to justify all the hard work she had ever done. She said she was proud of herself. Nanami Aoyama had lived through many disappointments but never through any regrets. She no longer needed him.

After the wedding, he decided not to keep in contact with Nanami and not to tell her about his changed address after he moved. It wouldn’t be proper for a bachelor like him to be so close to a married woman. Besides, he heard that she was having a child soon enough and that would keep her busy. But most of all, he had realised that the paths they walked were so completely different now.

She got married in the fall. The sakura leaves had dried up and died, scattering in the winds, a symbol of lost and withered dreams, never to bloom again.

TLDR;

Sorata x Nanami will never happen.

You’re free to disagree with my headcanon though. That’s what the comment box is for.

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Posted on May 31, 2013, in Pairings and Shipping, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I like your comments and analysis on Nanami x Sorata (Before you got into the story of how they WON’T get together). I really want to watch that Valentine’s episode now.

    Also, why would you put me through this pain AGAIN!? I’m a little tougher this time around so I only cried for about 20 minutes *shot*
    Besides I disagree with your headcanon of them not getting together cause if they’re not getting together then here’s my version of how they don’t get together:
    Nanami and Sorata become best buddies, but after graduation they kind of drifted apart. Nanami went on to pursue her dreams as a voice actress and after a string of disappointments (Due to the fact that she has to work for her apartment’s rent and donate to charity because she’s a hard-working saint, she’s often tired and doesn’t take good care of her self), she finally makes it. She slowly builds up her voice acting career and she’s so popular even in her 30s. Meanwhile, Sorata had been developing a game for ten years but it got rejected by one company so he was very discouraged to continue on so he set the game aside and dedicated his life to a desk job that he hated. He meets Nanami again after Misaki invites them both to a party in celebration of her most popular anime airing (in which Nanami is the main voice actor for the heroine).
    Sorata and Nanami talk about their lives and warm up a little but Sorata talks less about his life once he realizes that Nanami has been more successful than him. He doesn’t mention his rejected game because he’s now putting her on the same pedestal he puts everyone in Sakurasou in–as other worldly beings who just pee fine wine, barf up buckets of classic art or literature, and somehow made osmosis work by absorbing knowledge through book to face contact (or at least how he sometimes wishes the last one was true).
    She innocently asks him how his game production is going because she’s interested in hearing about it. Sorata, a little bit under the influence of alcohol, finally spills his heart out about how he wasn’t so successful and that he will never be as good as them. He even says that Nanami drifted apart and became one of the successful people while he’s still rolling under dirt.
    Nanami slaps him across the face because she’s a fiercely hot asian who doesn’t take even Sorata’s sh!t. She drags him out of the party and into his apartment (even though Sorata was really stubborn to give out his address). When they arrived, Nanami forced Sorata to show her his game and the two played all night and talked about how to improve his game. She helped him go to nine different companies for support and almost all of them accepted. Sorata’s confidence was boosted up that he became semi-popular which was good enough for him because it was enough to make Nanami one of the voice actors for his game.
    Then the two became the best bros ever because Sorata is finally over his inferiority complex so yeah, rainbows, sunshine, and unicorns that poop flowers.

    • LMAO I actually like this version of the story!

      I definitely agree with Nanami being a fiercely hot Asian. You skipped out on the makeout scene, though – how dare you??? Unicorns pooping flowers can’t compare to that!

  2. You know, if the scenario you outlined was a VN, that plot would have been the most realistic and probable given how the characters are set up, but probably would have been considered a BAD END.

    However, let’s say that Sorata DOES not find the cliche old woman willing to take care of the cats. I think that’s the weak link in your scenario. Let’s say that he does not find new owners for the cat. What then? That’s why I can’t buy your scenario.

    If indeed, he remains in Sakurasou and Nanami transfer in, I think he would… so to speak trigger the flags (or, in more ordinary parlance, the opportunities) necessary to play a similar role he did in the original plot. His proximity to Nanami, and the rest of Sakurasou may well lead to a variation of the original plot, minus Mashiro.

    So, yes, you proved that Nanami x Sorata cannot happen, via a contrivance. If Sorata remained in Sakurasou, and more realistically speaking could not find owners for these many cats, things may have unfold very differently.

    However, you do highlight well that it’s quite serendipitous for Sorata to go in that deep into the lives of even Nanami that he did in canon.

    • tbh I don’t really care HOW Sorata gets out of Sakurasou, but seeing as it was his goal to get out of there in the beginning of the series, I think it’s fair enough to assume he would have found a way to get out of there eventually if meeting Mashiro didn’t make him change his mind.

      But I agree, I pretty much outlined a BAD END and I actually wouldn’t want it to happen.

  3. Personally I feel like the story turned around Sorata X Nanami all the time, until like the last one or two episodes, when it suddenly went full Sorata X Mashiro. That was upsetting, because Sakurasou really looked like they will overcome the main guy X main girl stereotype and Nanami is just better for him in every way imaginable. And she deserved that little bit of happiness after all the bad things the story has dragged her through… Personally I feel as if Mashiro didn’t even need someone to fall for, her character would’ve been completely fine with learning about society and then maybe fall for someone once she’s an adult and able to take care of herself. I also think Sorata had a least a HUGE crush on Nanami, it wasn’t only that they were, like you said, equal, he did many things that guys usually do only for that one special person… I’m glad the show left it open in the way that Jin encouraged Nanami to keep fighting for Sorata and there wasn’t anything really romantic between Sorata and Mashiro until the very end (aside from the confession). If anything that triangle looked like a little family to me – Sorata and Nanami as the parents and Mashiro as their daughter, that’s the way I’ve perceived them most of the time. I haven’t read the novels, so I don’t know whether or not it will take a turn for Sorata X Nanami in the end, but I doubt it will become this realistic. It’s a shame, because just like you said Sorata X Nanami have a much bigger chance in the long run and are the kind of couple that might last a life long, while Sorata X Mashiro…frankly I can’t imagine them as a real pair, much less as a married couple…

    As for the story I don’t think it has to go as far as not meeting Mashiro at all. The story can very well continue as it does in canon, only Nanami could actually confess OR they find another way to keep Mashiro in Sakurasou. I mean she would’ve stayed even if they all shouted that they need her or whatever. I find it a huge fault that they set it all up for Sorata X Nanami and then suddenly drop it. It could’ve been resolved with her falling for that other classmate in the end, but instead he already gives up on Nanami and tells Sorata to take care of her. Besides from all the pairings Sorata X Mashiro gain the least from eachother. Jin wants to be good enough for Misaki, making him study hard to become better, while Misaki draws her cheerfullness from Jin. Ryuunosuke becomes less of a hikikomori due to Rita’s influence and she becomes more honest with herself because of his bluntness. Sorata and Nanami give each eachother strenght on a mutual level, they cheer eachother up and they care good care of eachother, look out for eachother, comfort eachother and just are there for eachother, they basically already act like a married couple. As for Mashiro it’s because of her that Sorata decides to give game-making a chance (but it is again thanks to Nanami (and some other people) that he pulls through), she is, perhaps, his inspiration, but I’m missing anything beyond that. And Mashiro uses him as a test subject for her manga and does pretty much everything as she’s seen it in other manga series. She’s basically unable of proper social interaction and while she steadily learns something new, it’s not solely because of Sorata, it’s because of all the other characters as well. And that’s why I think it would’ve been completely fine for Mashiro to stay solo and fall for someone in later years, when she’s capable of living on her own.

    Long story short – as you can see I’m not a fan of the “bad end” for Sorata X Nanami. I think how you’ve written it could’ve been possible in a way, but I do think the canon story was set up for Sorata X Nanami anyway and suddenly they changed directions, not making much sense in the process. BUT since I haven’t read the novels yet, I’m keeping my hopes up, haha :D

    • What an interesting interpretation of the series that you have! So you think Sorata and Mashiro didn’t have romantic chemistry and he had it with Nanami instead? While I don’t agree with that, that is how it would seem in real life.

      If anything that triangle looked like a little family to me – Sorata and Nanami as the parents and Mashiro as their daughter, that’s the way I’ve perceived them most of the time.

      This is adorable. Also officially my headcanon now.

      Besides from all the pairings Sorata X Mashiro gain the least from eachother.

      I disagree with this, though. I think they gain the most from each other. Without Mashiro, Sorata would never have realised his dreams and with Sorata, Mashiro would never have learned how to function normally in society. She can’t just go off and marry someone else presumably when she’s grown up a little. Sorata’s been the one driving her to change – if she never thought she had to please him somehow by acting like a girl, she would never have done so.

      If Sorata ended up with Nanami, I actually think he would gain less from that in the long term. Oh, yes, they support each other and all that, but the way the narrative portrays it, it’s like he’s settling for second best. He can’t face Mashiro’s talent head on so he has to settle for someone who is merely his equal.

      I’m saying this, even though I still think Sorata and Nanami would be so cute together fuuuuuuuu-!

      Anyway, great comment. Looks like you’re a huge fan of Sakurasou. I might do a post about the novels when the final one comes out.

  4. Let me make this as simple as possible. The reason I initially put this show on hold was because of Nanami. Why? Because she fell into the “childhood/best friend” trope. Basically, every time there’s a best friend/childhood friend character in a rom-com, chances are that he/she will fall in love (or already be in love) with their #1 broski/siski. What does this usually lead to in anime? DEFEAT!

    In short, I am sick and tired of seeing best friends losing to the protagonist’s main love interest, usually due to their own mistakes or an honorable resignation. Of course I plan to finish Sakuraso soon but Nanami’s predicted path to failure annoyed me for a while.

  5. I see your point with how mashiro and Sorata are like a yin and yang kinda setup(they balance each other out), he gets confidence from her success and he helps her learn how to “live” so to speak…but really how long will that last? eventually she’ll stop , because drawing honestly will only take you so far, and not all artists keep their “mojo” i guess you could call it , but even her editor mentioned it ” if she loses her unique aspect on life she…” im not sure if she finished that sentence but you can tell what she was alluding to..with sorata being a game creator which encompasses multiple areas you can rise pretty high, what would happen if he “caught up/surpasses” her? basically im saying their feelings or maybe their relationship as you said..(honestly i could tell what was going to happen and i just honestly couldn’t see her get hurt..lol that’s a first for me …not watching something because i didn’t want to see a character hurt) is built on sand and pebbles, its not gonna last…. now i know nanami moved back (read the wiki of her character) to her parents because she failed her V.A test or whatever..but(and this is me nerding out) if he would have just realized how much he cares about her..supports her, took care of her when she was ill, gave her confidece, hell he even went to her instead of mashiro and BIKED her all for what looked like miles atleast if she had to take a train to get there there was just so much more between them , but alas the great wall known as the story director/creator etc.. was to headstrong on it even though they set them up..also i don’t think that nanami and Sorata would have had the same moments if mashiro didnt move in because she was one of the reasons she moved to sakursou , i think she would have been to stubborn to move in because at the time ” she didn’t need any help” but maybe Sorata would have convinced her since she likes him….also and im sorry if this is rude but your story of them ” never happening” sounded a lot like ” 5 centimeters per second” …. i think if this was real life not only would he have huge feelings for her…but i think he would have went to her house and well this is just my own thoughts but he would have convinced her to not give up on her dreams , got into a quarrel with her parents and convinced them through all the hard work shes put up with to make her dream come true and possibly confessing to her her parents would likely reconsider and theyd become a couple ….im no fan fiction writer , im just going off what i know what would happen in reality based off the kinda person he is..so yea..lol

  6. I just finished the anime yesterday, and i was dissapointed at first because i wanted a SorataxNanami Relationship, and like previous people wrote here is that the story showed us a true love chemistry between them. I also think that the Sorata-Mashiro relationship was like a siblings relationship, just adding that they weren’t family and Mashiro was really pretty and i think that was the reason sorata had a “crush” on her, he was just noticing how pretty he was, like ALL the people who noticed mashiro.

    ALSO Mashiro was jelaous a lot of times, and i think that nanami and sorata had more romantic scenes, i dont know if the manga was different, but in the last episode i was sad because i though that sorata and Mashiro were ending as a couple but the talk between Jin and Nanami make me think that she still had a chance, and that they didn’t have a MOUTH KISS haha

    I LOVE AND HATE LOVE TRIANGLES! i think that was a reason who drove me crazy and excited and i think they leave that open ending to not dissapoint both shippers. so we can imagine the end that we wanted.

    sorry for my redaction, i’m guatemalan, my languaje is spanish haha :3 BYE!

  7. Without mashiro, sorata won’t set up a goal. Without his goal, he couldn’t be equal with aoyama.

    Now u see how important mashiro is.

    Tho i do prefer that aoyama should’ve confess to sorata on the Christmas eve. The opening song almost made me cry, after listening to it again. That was after i read the ending of the novel.

    Another perfect time to confess was on the episode where aoyama couldnt go to her voice acting exam-thingy(forgot) n sorata cycled his way to get her there. Even tho technically aoyama DID confess to him in some way in the tunnel. It was sooo close but she kinda like cancelled the progress.

    I really am disappointed at the novel.
    I would definitely think that there won’t be a season 2, but a few OVAs should do a great job.
    I would be really grateful if they make a different ending for the OVA.
    Or atleast, few OVAs which gives us different ending. (Specifically one with mashiro’s ending and one with nanami’s ending)

  8. I really did not care about the sorataxnanami or sorataxmashiro but what I do care is Sorata x Nanami x Mashiro.Mashiro’s real wish was to Everyone to be together so I really wanted to see 3 of them together at the end (even thou they are still near each other it still doesn’t feel right)

  9. мσε αηιмε ℓσvεя

    When you said ‘ I didn’t want to see Sorata beating himself up because he didn’t think he would ever be good enough for Mashiro.’ That’s not exactly true. At the start it was hard for him to cope with taking care of Mashiro. So Mashiro actually tried to be more humanly by starting to cook ect, but Sorata, since he can be an idiot who doesn’t think things through, didn’t realise this and let out all his anger on Mashiro. Which honestly wasn’t fair, she tried to be more like a human but Sorata didn’t even see what she was trying to do.

    Also, I think you may already know this but Mashiro and Sorata became boyfriend and girlfriend layer on in the manga.

  10. I think sorataxmashiro cannot work it is unrealistic. Sorata was kind and a good guy.but author made it look like he was after her body.I liked everything else in this anime but sorataxmashiro ending was a disappointment

  11. its easy bro .. if sorata never meet mashiro he’s life is boring ;) so i prefer shiina

  12. I would just like to say one thing: In the anime, and if I am correct Japan, Sophomore year is the final year of school (other than college). 5 years of elementary, 3 years of junior high, and 3 of high school.

  13. Actually,Nanami x Sorata could happen…..in the game…..in the sakurasou game there is a happy ending for nanami.

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on “Sakurasou,” 4 years later [#12DaysOfAnime 2016, No. 1] – GARLOCK | to my only desire

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