knit 1, purl 2.

That button's falling off! I'll sew it back on, y'hear!?

Rumors are flying around the school that Kanji has been bullying the other students. Curious to hear the truth straight from the source, Souji approaches Kanji at the Samegawa Flood Plain later that day and asks him if the rumors are true. Naturally Kanji denies the accusation, but our hero is quick to find out that this isn't something new for his fellow teammate: no matter where Kanji goes in town, he's always the subject of baseless accusations and suspicious glares from fellow students and the police especially. He's downtrodden by the trouble that he's bringing his senpai and his mother, so with the help of Souji Kanji resolves to make some lifestyle changes and figure out what it really means to be strong.

The Stuffed Rabbit

Ironically enough, Kanji's rescuer comes in the form of a small, quiet-looking boy that he and Souji meet one afternoon at the hill by the riverbank. When he notices that the boy looks like he's about to cry Kanji confronts him and asks what happened. It turns out that he had lost a knit rabbit doll which belonged to his friend, because another friend had told him it was "girly" and stomped on it. Concerned that he wouldn't be considered "manly" by his peers, the boy threw the doll into the river. It's pretty clear that the situation hits home with Kanji because he's quick to try and help out as best he can: he tells the boy to apologize to his friend, and reassures him that he'll get him a new one in the meantime.

Kanji: It was like I knew how he felt. Wanting to be accepted, afraid of being left out, doing stuff that you shouldn't... then taking the one person you shouldn't make cry and making 'em bawl.

The next time they meet up at the riverbank, Kanji hands the boy two bunny dolls ("very elaborate" dolls that are complete with accessories), one for him, one for his friend. The young boy is eager to know where he got them and Kanji shyly confesses that he made them himself. He later finds out that he's gained popularity with many of the younger children in the neighborhood (and even their parents!) and many of them would be willing to pay him to make more, and even teach them how to do make them too. Kanji is embarassed to know that knowledge of his hobbies are spreading, and extremely hesitant to continue, but agrees to do it for free. The truth is that hearing the words "thank you" from a bunch of strangers is more than enough pay for Kanji: they're words that he had never heard prior to this situation. It's a pretty exciting revelation for him as he begins to tell Souji that he's starting to understand that "strength" is about more than just being manly and taking on the entire world.

I'll Face Myself

However, realization aside, Kanji has yet to face his true problems head on. Souji and Kanji meet up again at the steak bowl only to be approached by policemen once again. There have been rumors going around that a group of teenage bullies had been threatening a child at the hill and the flood plain-- yet another misunderstanding. Even though Kanji knows that the claims were false, he's too afraid to admit that he had actually been making dolls for boy. Just when things start to become heated, the young boy waltzes up with cookies that his mother baked Kanji as thanks for the plushies. At that moment, Kanji realizes what he needs to do. Lying to himself and to others was only hurting those around him-- and he couldn't possibly make Souji or his younger friend into liars by denying his hobbies. He confesses to the police men--the very people who see him as nothing more than a street punk--that he had made the young boy some dolls. It's the first time Kanji has stood up to someone and made them understand who he really was, and the first time he's faced his fears head on. Though the police look skeptical, they let go of the situation and leave Kanji to finally take a deep breath and feel proud about what he's done.

At the hilltop, Kanji reveals to his senpai that he visited his father's grave the other day: he felt he could finally face him. One of the things Kanji's father said to him before he passed away was, "If you're a man, you have to become strong." He felt like he was telling him that he wasn't a "real man", and in response started fighting gangs, acting tough, thinking he was protecting his mother. While he admits that he still doesn't fully understand the meaning of strength, he plans on starting by not lying to himself.

Kanji: I've just been throwin' in the towel all this time. Of course no one could understand me. I been keepin' my distance outta fear. So I decided that I'd do things my way, no matter how tough, but... it ain't just about hanging around guys who understand you and telling the rest to get bent. You gotta make an effort if you want people to understand you. I wasn't even trying.

There are a lot of things that Kanji is able to take away from the interactions he had with Souji and the younger boy at the riverbank. For one, the hobby that he had been ashamed of for almost all his life was one that was able to bring happiness to the faecs of others: something completely foreign to someone who's used to bringing nothing but trouble. However, more importantly than that, facing the fear of exposing to the policemen what he was really doing loitering around the hilltop was Kanji's way of understanding that not allowing others to understand him was only hurting those he was trying to protect, not helping them or even himself.

Before parting with Souji, Kanji hands him a cute strap as a present, which symbolizes "him being himself, and makes two promises: to be himself and to get people to understand him. For him, these are the two most important things towards become a stronger person, not only for his sake, but for his family and friends who need his support. By accepting the shadow side of himself that exists in the TV world, Kanji's persona is reborn as Rokuten Maou: yet another symbol of his gaining strength in not body, but mind. And with Kanji letting go of his pride and reaching out for the truth, if you will, the player can equip themselves with a needle and thread to get ready for Oven Mitt Puppets 101!

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