I want to protect Kotori’s smile.
Being Kotori is suffering. That’s what she was trying to tell Kotarou at the end there. That she’s also been suffering all this time, and that the least Kotarou could do would be to be a little nicer to her. I’m sure she knows, somewhere deep in her heart, that Kotarou is trying to protect her and keep her safe from all the danger that comes with being targeted by Guardian and Gaia. And if we compare Kotarou and Kotori, I’m fairly sure the former has been through worse. You know, being in a war and all that. Even his expressions are different now. But Kotori is just a little girl. She’s become even cuter and somehow even more perfect than she was a couple of years ago, even despite the loss of the Gao Gao Stegosaurus shirt, but ultimately she is first and foremost a traumatised loli whose burden is far greater than any relatively well-adjusted loli should have to bear. I just want to hug her tight and never let go while she cries into my shirt. At least hug her, Kotarou! Making lolis cry is not okay. That goes against practically everything I stand for.
This is also the only route where Kotori can properly let out all her tears and grievances to Kotarou, because in the other routes Kotarou will have become part of her problems as her half-familiar whom she has to tiptoe around. She’s never sure how much of him is his own autonomous will and how much of him is the edgy Bond she used to trade barbs with, and so she keeps her worries all bottled up and puts on a mask of happiness. Which, even if it ultimately isn’t the real Kotori, is still the comfiest and the softest. By then, Kotori will have become a lot more disillusioned about ever reviving her parents. Probably a lot more broken too, since she’d have spent over ten years by herself. Terra Kotori’s smile isn’t completely lost yet, but it’s on its way and Kotarou has chosen to help speed up the process in order to get her to safety.
I can understand. It wasn’t the greatest way to go about it, but I can understand him not wanting Kotori to be involved in any of this. He’s thinking like a war veteran now, and since he knows just how destructive conflicts between Gaia and Guardian can get, he doesn’t want an innocent girl, even if she is a druid, to have to risk her life for no reason. Kagari didn’t seem to care much, though. I’ve always found Terra Kagari to be rather weird. At first, I was thinking the anime made her a little friendlier than I had remembered from the VN, what with all her dry humour and even her ‘horrible reproductive acts’ line making it into the adaptation. She was also super cute when she was first sprouting. I was too busy looking at Kotarou at the time, but that small seedling did a cute wiggle when he touched it.
But she started getting frustrated with him really quickly, and that’s when I knew she was still the same Terra Kagari that I remembered. She was very assertive. It was kind of nice. Like amnesiac Kagari was, except a lot more serious and uncaring. Her thinking is very alike with Guardian’s, in fact – she wants to see the world saved too, but in the process it doesn’t matter if one or two lolis are abused or if Kotarou has to sacrifice his own life force by rewriting himself. The survival of the planet as a whole is what’s important to her. Regardless of whether that’s right, her expectations of Kotarou seem to be far higher than what Kotarou expects of himself. I can’t remember how much time passes in between him first reuniting with her and the first time she starts asking him to hurry up, but there’s only so much he can do. If he were in that coma, he’d never get to do anything for a whole ten years. Now he even gets to play a devoted Gaia fanatic in his time away from Guardian.
Although I suppose if he were in his coma, she’d never ask for his help like she does in Terra. Was it ever explained why Terra Kagari can talk so much? Is it because she’s still searching for good memories and has hope for humanity, whereas after ten years have passed, she’d already lost hope and was quickly approaching salvation point? I’m not sure why that would mean she loses her ability to talk, and between routes Kagari seems to have varying communication abilities too. I’ll never forget that CG of Kagari laughing creepily after the corpses of Kotori’s parents sacrifice themselves to save her and Kotarou.
I’m just so happy we got to see Kotori again. Literally the highlight of the episode. Even if it was mostly her crying, she’s one of my favourite things about Terra and I’ve been thinking that Kotarou needs an actual friend to share his troubles with, given that Kagari isn’t really for befriending. Too bad he keeps driving Kotori away and making her cry, even though they’re both each other’s only true allies in this route.