Unfortunately, we didn't see the blog post until the day after I had sent an e-mail to our Japanese pen pal, and I knew it'd be a while until he e-mailed back, so I just made a mental note to ask him in my next e-mail. Well, it took so long to hear from him that I got impatient (I think less from wanting to ask about this and more about wanting to get an e-mail), so I sent him an e-mail anyway. But before I allowed myself to do it, since usually when you check facts during a debate like this it's because you want to prove how right you are, I had to promise myself that I would post his response whether he agreed with me or not.
Of course, I have to add the disclaimer that Clay is not familiar with Fruits Basket, so you could argue that there's not enough context. And you could also argue that, as Clay points out, it's only his opinion, and the only way to find out for sure is to ask Natsuki Takaya herself.
My other disclaimer is that I forgot to ask Clay if it was alright for me to post this on LJ, so hopefully he'll forgive me if he ever finds out. I'm including the Japanese as well as my translation of it, so people can have the original, too. Not that it matters if they don't know Japanese.
Hello! This is Alethea!
Sorry for the sudden e-mail, but we're having a bit of a debate, and I wanted to get your opinion.
In a certain manga, the main girl's mother died in an accident. The girl regrets very much that the day of the accident was the one day she couldn't say "itterasshai." Why would she regret such a thing?
There's one opinion that "itterasshai" includes the meaning "please come back later," and that the girl thinks that if she had said "itterasshai" like she's supposed to, her mother wouldn't have ended up never being able to come back, or that her mother's death was her fault, and there's another opinion that "itterasshai" is just a ritual expression said when someone leaves, it has no special meaning, and that the girl regrets not being able to say goodbye. (Whew, that was long.)
Of course, there's also the possibility that you can't tell without knowing the main character's personality, but what do you think?
This is a very difficult question....... This is no more than one person's opinion, but I will go ahead and express it.
First, I think the fact that saying "itterasshai" is something she always says every day is an important point here. It's true that it may be like a jinx to ensure she comes back safely, and that she may also feel regret that she didn't get to say goodbye.
But I think that, more than that, she may be feeling the sadness and heartbreak along the lines of, "It's something I do every day, so why didn't I do it on the day I lost her? And now I'll never be able to do it again."
For example, let's say a cat has a favorite snack (some delicious food [this is probably Clay clarifying the meaning of "oyatsu," in case I didn't already know it]). And you would always give it to the cat when he does a trick, or listens to what you say, or acts very smart, but that day, he did something really smart, but for no particular reason, you didn't give him his treat.
Then if that day, he disappeared somewhere, wouldn't you think, "Oh, I should have given him his treat," and regret it? It's not as if he wouldn't have disappeared if you had given it to him, nor would you have meant it as a farewell gift.
More importantly, you would regret your own actions, thinking, "Why didn't I give him his treat?" If you'd known it was a situation in which you wouldn't have been able to avoid parting, you would have given him the treat, so why didn't you give it to him at the one time it mattered most? You would hate yourself and be filled with an anger toward yourself, for which you had no outlet, wouldn't you?
So I think that even if it wasn't "itterasshai," if it was something like they always had bread and eggs and milk for breakfast, but that one morning she'd forgotten to buy milk so they had orange juice instead, she would regret not having bought milk. I think that the fact that the action is performed every day is more important than the content of the action.
In the midst of daily occurrences, when something happens that's not daily, what you'd feel moved to dwell on would be "what was different from usual." I think she is trying to console herself in her deep sadness that's so hard to accept by directing her attention elsewhere.
That...didn't take longer than expected, but it was still long. I think it was a very nice explanation, though. I'd sum up, but I think it speaks for itself. I guess from this you could say that Mr. Stephanides was right all along, in that the meaning of "itterasshai" is not what's important.
Anyway, that's taken long enough, so I'll end here.
Today I'm thankful for native speaker checks, having an awesome Japanese pen pal, getting our package from Play Asia today (whee!), getting a tiny bit of rain this morning, and Japanese IME.