I’ve been thinking about this wrt the long-threatened fantailcest rationalization post (summary: close relatives who are separated during formative childhood years sometimes develop genetic sexual attraction after reunion), since fantailcest can really only happen after two specific setup scenarios. But Sakuya’s personality seems so different in each one that I’m having trouble reconciling both versions together.
Spoilers and general tl;dr overthinking after cut.
The only two routes that end with Yuuya still definitely living nearby are Sakuya’s extended otome route and the post-BBL epilogue. I think Yuuya’s general attitude toward Sakuya would be about the same in both cases, which will probably need its own post later.
Sakuya’s otome route mostly seems to involve his gradual breakdown, or at least his willingness to let Hiyoko see his vulnerabilities even if he doesn’t fully admit to them. This is only a partial list and may have some inaccuracies because it’s been a while since I actually played “Hatoful Boyfriend”.
- class hike: I can’t help thinking that his “exercise is for peasants” complaint is an indirect admission that his feet hurt. Birdwise, fantails aren’t terribly good at flying— IIRC the “heavy footsteps” sound effects during the game are usually associated with either him or Yuuya— so while most of the “hikers” may’ve flown at least part of the way up into the hills, Sakuya (and Hiyoko) would’ve been stuck walking the entire way. (As for gijinka!Sakuya, I don’t think those boots were made for walking. At least not up and down hilly terrain; the lacing seems awfully constrictive for ankle-flexing.)
- Hiyoko joining the student council: “Dumb Japanese! …I am French!” Sakuya’s entire identity is built around being the French heir to the French house of Le Bel. He seems to mostly associate Japanese-ness with ninjas and his trashy half-brother. Once he loses his connection to the house of Le Bel, who is he anymore?
- sports festival: he already knows how to conduct professional musicians? At the very least, he’s probably attended enough orchestral concerts to pick up the principles from obsessively watching the conductors and covertly pining his heart out at listening to the beautiful classical music which he is not allowed to play himself.
- fight with Okosan: yeah, Sakuya is still a status-pulling jerk this early in the year… but this scene establishes the principle that he absolutely refuses to go back on his word.
- swimming contest: still no sense of connection with Yuuya. He’s willing to undertake physical exertion for the sake of competition and pride.
- summer festival: the unfamiliar social context makes him completely “panic-stricken”. It’s very non-French, he’s surrounded by people who don’t automatically recognize and defer to him as the heir to the house of Le Bel, hecould be felled at any moment by ninja attack or food poisoning, and Hiyoko is his only anchor to anything that seems familiar. But he stays there with her instead of fleeing back home, and even carries off a candy apple which he claims he’s not going to eat.
- school festival: the haunted house makes him freak the hell out and run for it, hyperventilating. Between this and the summer festival, I have a hunch that involuntary physical proximity is a big Problem Thing for him. (Among other things, there’s the fantail aerodynamics problem again— there are dangers which ordinary peasant pigeons could escape on the wing but he might be stuck on the ground still trying to get airborne.)
- the music room: the great composers are among the few people whom he respects enough to angrily defend their honor. And his story about M. Le Bel destroying his musical instruments just makes my heart hurt in all kinds of ways… and yet after all that, Sakuya has still been sneaking in enough piano practice after school to play smoothly and fluidly.
- Legumentine’s: he’s still a status-conscious snob if you don’t give him the really nice beans. But again, it’s a question of his social status as the heir to the house of Le Bel. And he seems stupefied by Hiyoko telling him that she admires his magnificent butt— she may have sprung for the expensive beans because he won’t settle for anything else, but her reason for giving him the beans in the first place is because she thinks that he’s beautiful.
- endgame: his sense of personal crisis has gotten so strong that he’s physically fled the house of Le Bel. (Almost as if it were a haunted house in its own right… though in a sense, it does have the spectre of the smashed egg hanging over the family, even if no one knows about it except Yuuya.) After he collapses in the street from cold and exhaustion, he really could’ve become seriously ill or even died if Hiyoko hadn’t found him and carried him back to her cave. (Cf. involuntary physical contact.) But he lets her carry him, and even asks her if she’s willing to do it again if necessary— he’s establishing her as his new safehouse before undertaking the risk of being thrown out by M. Le Bel and losing his whole previous sense of identity.
Quasi-summary: Sakuya gets really woobied during his otome route, with increasing displays of both physical/emotional breakdown and inverse reliance on Hiyoko when crisis strikes. I think this could make him emotionally vulnerable enough to reach out to Yuuya— Sakuya suddenly realizes, “Oh. so that’s how it feels to be thrown out by M. Le Bel. It’s lonely and terrifying. Yuuya didn’t even have Hiyoko to back him up, and yet he’s stayed so cheerful and strong even while I was constantly insulting him. Maybe I can learn from his example how I can become strong too?” (I haven’t even yet tried to factor in what happens if Yuuya ever does give him The Talk after the otome epilogue.)
But during the BBL route, Sakuya stays pretty level-headed when the scarecrow shows up. He tries to take charge of the situation and keep Ryouta level-headed— my best rationalization so far is that this is because he still strongly thinks of himself as the heir to the house of Le Bel, and as such, he’s been trained to control and command other people. The key difference between that and his otome-route crisis mode is that in the latter, he mostly feels that the crises are personally targeted to him rather than presenting a threat to anyone else?
And during the infirmary attack, he doesn’t try to run away like he did from the haunted house— maybe because unlike the “ghosts”, the threat didn’t involve direct physical contact at first? (Or maybe Dr. Iwamine just has BWAHAHAHA YOU CAN’T MOVE ANYMORE hypnotic eyes like at the end of his own otome route?)
So in this case, M. Le Bel doesn’t disinherit him, but Sakuya learns that he was never really a Le Bel to begin with. Again, this means that he isn’t French anymore. He isn’t really the heir. He goes into silent BSOD mode afterward… but Yuuya’s and Okosan’s reassurances pull his self-command back together in what seems like a remarkably short time. And I think it does help him to feel that he can take charge of other people and give orders to restructure the situation, instead of just having to brood about his own identity and self-image.
Also, in this case, there isn’t any one person whom Sakuya had already grown to rely on before going into breakdown mode. He might’ve gotten clingy to Yuuya right after the infirmary revelation, except that, well, he had to leave him there.
Argh I can’t believe this post is getting this long :b I have to go do some other stuff instead. More later maybe.