When Yuki joins the student council as president, he's resolved to better himself and deal with his social anxieties head-on. However, this resolve doesn't prepare him for dealing with his vice president, Kakeru Manabe, in any way. Yuki's impression of Manabe is that he is a little too much like his brother Ayame for comfort, but it turns out that Manabe is exactly the kind of friend that Yuki needs in his life.

Our first hint of Manabe's existence comes after Motoko Minagawa stalks the previous president for info on the new members - we see two people, a boy and a girl walking past Yuki, who both remark on how Yuki likes Tohru best, and Manabe calls him "beautiful." Yuki doesn't get to meet them, however, until summer vacation, and Yuki's horrified to discover that Manabe's just as outgoing as Ayame. And just as annoying - the first thing Manabe does is to make fun of Yuki's girly face, calling him the pink Power Ranger! However, to Manabe's credit, he realizes quickly that he's actully offended Yuki, and assures Yuki that he's just kidding, and promptly tells Yuki that he's interesting. This comment throws Yuki off - as he tells Tohru when he gets home, it was the first time anyone had called him interesting, and it made him happy. "Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you ... or save you."

However, this brief happiness is quickly replaced by annoynace. As Yuki gets to meet the other members of the council, he learns that Manabe's responsible for the nickname "Yun-Yun," and to add to insult, Manabe promptly falls asleep during the meeting when the council starts working. Exasperated, Yuki resolves to persevere.

Chapter 69 Hatsuharu: How's the student council?
Yuki: I've no idea ... they're a complete unknown.
Hatsuharu: That's a good thing ... for you.

As president and VP, Yuki and Manabe go around to visit all the school clubs, and Yuki encourages each one to speak up to the council if they need anything, and that he looks forward to working with him. Manabe's having none of it, though. If they need help, they'll just come to the council, so why is it necessary to visit each club? Yuki is firm in his response: not doing so would be negligent and lazy, going out to the clubs allows better understanding of goings-on as a whole, and as student council members it's important to not be self-important and actually do some good for the school. Privately, he feels that it's exhausting to work with Manabe, because he's so like Ayame, but at the same time, Yuki sees a bit of Kyo in him as well, as people seem to gather around Manabe. "It's as though he gives off a light that I don't have - it's so bright it feels like I'm being erased." I'll just tell you now that they do become friends - surprise, surprise - so this makes you wonder ... if Yuki and Manabe can get along, in another life, would Yuki and Kyo have as well? (I certainly think so.)

Keeping in mind what Manabe and Machi said before about Yuki liking Tohru best, the subject soon comes up with the two. Manabe sees Yuki with Tohru one day, and asks him if it isn't unhappy for him to be around Tohru when it seems like Kyo is her boyfriend. Yuki gets irritated at this, already struggling with his feelings for Tohru (as a mother!!!), and snaps at Manabe, asking if he likes to box people into "happy" or "unhappy." Manabe is understandably surprised as his outburst, but starts arguing right back. Yuki quickly realizes that he's lost control, and apologizes, disappointed in himself.

Yuki ~ Chapter 73 Quickly comparing oneself with strangers, feeling you're about to be beaten by a sense of inferiority. It feels like I'm about to be erased. That's right. The one who's really suited to being the president isn't really me. I feel like maybe he's more suited, my other self whispers in my ear quickly, trying to escape in thoughts of weakness ... The biggest problem student is me. The evil for me would be myself. The enemy that I should be fighting is always inside me.

Manabe also apologizes, and Yuki realizes that through their arguing, they came to understand each other better. Without any kind of pretense between them, being able to be so honest was refreshing, so maybe having to work with him wouldn't be too bad. Regardless, Manabe does a great job of taking him out of his comfort zone. As one of few people to be open and honest with him, instead of putting him on a pedestal, he makes fun of Yuki's girlishness on multiple occasions and takes pleasure in pushing his buttons. He even tells his girlfriend that Yuki's a girl that dresses up as a boy due to some family issues - a fact that leads both Yuki and Manabe's girlfriend to go after him. Beneath the teasing, though, Manabe actually does want to get to know Yuki better. One time he makes the mistake of casually mentioning he might be interested in Tohru (which in actuality he isn't because he has a girlfriend, he's just testing Yuki), and Yuki coolly tells him that if he hurts Tohru, he'll never speak to him again. Yuki is immediately embarrassed after he says it because it sounds so childish, but Manabe is actually really affronted. Visibly angry, he yells at Yuki, "DON'T SAY YOU'LL NEVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN YOU IDIOT! WE HAVEN'T EVEN ARGUED ABOUT PORN VIDEOS YET!"

Now if that isn't a beautiful bromance friendship bromance, I don't know what is. Hatsuharu, ever concerned for Yuki's well being, notices their interactions and even goes so far to tell Manabe to take care of him. And this is something that Manabe most certainly can do. As it turns out, they have more similarities than Yuki'd imagined. Manabe and Machi are half-siblings, set against each other in a competition by their mothers to become their father's legitimate heir. With all his mother's expectations on him, Manabe eventually realized that the entire situation was stupid and pulled out of the running. Yuki, though he hadn't wholly broken away from his parents, also resolves to make his own future. The two agree that they can't change their parents and their parents can't change them, so it's just something they have to accept and maybe even laugh about.

Eventually, Yuki confides in Manabe how he regards Tohru as a mother - briefly touching on his despair as a child, he describes to Manabe how Tohru was always there for him. As supportive friends go, Manabe is pretty good - as a joke, he offers his own mother to lighten the mood. He even tries to help Yuki figure out what's the issue - he says that it's normal for guys to look for mothers in their girlfriends, as Yuki sees Tohru as someone he could be attracted to (but isn't), and then says that Yuki seems to think he can't compete with Kyo, and Yuki continues to tell him how this isn't the case, and what he actually wants. Yuki is tense, a bit upset about everything regarding Kyo and Tohru. A burden off his shoulders, if you will. Yuki's kept everything bottled up so tightly, talking to Manabe is cathartic, and his relief is tangible.

Yuki ~ Chapter 86 Is it because I told someone? Those were all secrets until now. Is it because someone in a completely different world ... actually listened to me? Or maybe it's because [Manabe's] actually very nice.

Manabe encourages him, telling him that he's a great guy. In this way, Manabe is a really good friend for Yuki - he's able to be completely open with Manabe, and to me, that's really the most important mark of a strong friendship.

His relationship with Manabe progresses to the point where he goes over to Manabe's house for meals, always, of course, letting Tohru know beforehand. By far his closest friend outside of the family, Yuki really values his presence in his life. After Tohru's confession to Kyo goes awry and she ends up in the hospital and Kyo an emotional wreck, the news spreads across the school. Manabe jokingly offers to let Yuki cry on his chest, to which Yuki replies that he'll hurl him into the sun. He knows that he isn't feeling as bad as he might have, because he had Manabe's support, among others (well, just Machi).

Yuki ~ Chapter 125 I'm not sure if [Manabe] understands how much it means to have someone's concern. As though I'm being supported when I'm weak. I want to be able to be myself without being weak, despite being among all the other people in a crowd. If I disappeared, how many people would notice? There was a time when I thought of such things. But now, things are different.

Things are different at that point because Yuki had gone out to try to overcome his fears, and the end result was that he made some really great friends. While Manabe can be obnoxious, annoying, and even lecherous (especially after Machi and Yuki become an item), he's been able to get Yuki to open up about his fears and wishes. Of course, Yuki's still more reserved than most, so Manabe doesn't know the full extent of his suffering, but that's something that is intensely private for him. An irreplaceable figure in Yuki's life, Manabe's everything a best friend (or at least a close friend) should be: able to laugh with you or at you when you're being ridiculous, or cry with you when you're feeling down. Though Yuki never explicity calls Manabe his best friend, Yuki is thankful to have him in his life. Perseverance pays off!

Castles In Air is a fanwork © Chrissy 2012 - 2016. No infringement intended.