Loving Kikyō Kushida (and Other Really Bad People)

We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves

– La Rouchefoucauld “Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims”

The opening card from episode four of Classroom of the Elite is an intriguing one because the first half of it seems to point obviously at certain characters – Kushida, especially, but also Horikita and newly introduced characters Sakura and Ichinose. The second half, about hiding from ourselves…the question is who is that referring to? Ayanokoji? Horikita? Someone else?

Or is that phrase speaking to us?

Honami Ichinose
Oh no…another girl with secrets? I’m rooting for you to not be a dirtbag, though, Ichinose!

As Classroom of the Elite moves into episode four, there’s a weird shift that’s happening. The episode begins in a different classroom with different students and a different teacher than we’ve ever seen before, and the show begins a new mini-arc, pushing us off the trail of the heaviness of last episode’s reveal. But certainly, Kushida’s genuine self is still fresh in our minds, and I could only think about the ugliness underneath her exterior every time she came on screen. There was a tension there, whether in my own mind or intentional, whenever she shared time with Ayanokoji, and it spoke to me asking, “How would I feel if I was Ayanokoji and knew what she really was?”

I know exactly how I would feel – I’d be disgusted, bitter, and angry. There’s a self-righteousness within me that would rise in thinking that this girl is playing with me and putting me under her thumb. But further, she would feel like garbage to me. She is someone so vile, scheming and deceiving while standing right next to me, even as she knows that I know. Yuck. Like literal garbage, I would be repelled, wanting to get away from her.

kushida and ayanokoji
Ughhhhhh…PLEASE, Kushida…

Have you ever had someone like that in your life, someone who is so obviously a person of poor morals but acts like she’s wonderful? I have. I’ve worked with a person like Kushida, and it always made me feel a little sick, as if I was catching some sort of deceitful contagion by being next to her. I didn’t want to be in the same room!

But Ayanokoji isn’t like me. We’re privy to some of his thoughts, but instead of this harsh judgment, he just analyzes, thinks, and even shows grace. But how can he do that when he was threatened by Kushida just days (the night?) before?

I wonder if it has something to do with the last half of that quote by La Rouchefoucauld: “We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.” I wrote about how I preferred Horikita to Kushida because I felt she was truer to herself, which reminds me of how often I lack sincerity, with myself and with others. Like Jacob with Esau (and practically everyone else in his life), I’m a deceiver, too. I hide the my ugliness, the corruption I succumb to quite often, and instead show the world a better version of myself. I am Kushida – it’s just that the people around me might not know it.

So if Kushida is “garbage,” what does that make me?

Thankfully, something much more, but not because of who I am. It’s only because of that which changes everything – even the heart of a deceiver. It’s only because of the “last best word.” It’s only because of grace.

And because I stand on that, there’s hope, even for those of us who hide the truth from even ourselves.


13 thoughts on “Loving Kikyō Kushida (and Other Really Bad People)

  1. That’s why I do my best to be upfront with everyone. I am who I am, however I seem to come across to others. I just act myself, though of course more proper and a little reserved when the situation calls for it (a meeting, or a place where I should listen more than give my opinion).

    But yeah, I have worked with a couple people like that. They didn’t like me, because I called them out on their annoying tendencies….so yeah, I’m that guy 🙂 I can be a little confrontational.

    1. We all need people like you in our lives haha – that helps us keep things real, in groups and situations as well as in our interpersonal relationships.

  2. It’s hard to know where I stand, exactly, with a character like Kushida. The chief characteristic of many autistic people is that we suffer from the total inability to replicate her deception. That is, there are very few autistic people who can confidently lie about themselves or anything else for that matter. You wouldn’t think that a tendency towards total honesty would be a bad thing…until you realize that we live in a world that’s propelled forward by polite dishonesty. Everyone who interacts with others hides how they really feel and think, putting forward “their best self” or most socially acceptable self. A person showing what they really think ends up offending a lot of people.

    I realized that I could get around my problem by essentially “riding on,” or vicariously experiencing, the confidence of a charismatic liar, by being that person’s associate or minion. It’s hard to be afraid of how people will think of you, and easier to deceive, if you’re metaphorically sitting in the horde of a dragon, or on the back of a tiger. But I still think, on the whole, it is better to have the ability than to lack it.

    “I know exactly how I would feel – I’d be disgusted, bitter, and angry. There’s a self-righteousness within me that would rise in thinking that this girl is playing with me and putting me under her thumb. But further, she would feel like garbage to me. She is someone so vile, scheming and deceiving while standing right next to me, even as she knows that I know. Yuck. Like literal garbage, I would be repelled, wanting to get away from her.”

    To make your way around a deceiver, you have to not protect yourself against them. That alone throws the liar’s usual methods into disarray, because they *expect* people to. Ayanokoji is making the smartest tactical move by half. With all that said, it’s interesting that you realize/acknowledge the Kushida in yourself here, and wonder what your disgust at her means about you. My own demon lies in the very thing that protects me in these sorts of situations: the possibility that I would laugh giddily at a murder, if the murderer was a friend. Perhaps it’s worse to not be able to play Kushida’s game.

    1. I don’t know if all of that made a ton of sense (being more stream of consciousness and less an argument), but those are my thoughts (and disturbingly honest thoughts, at that) in the wake of this post. I don’t think either of us are the worst this species has to offer…but we have our sinful natures, still, and they open the possibility of temptation towards depravity. I’m lucky in many ways that the people I chose to have around me also have a vested interest in keeping me out of trouble. :]

      1. No, it did make sense, and it gave me a lot to think about. Particularly, I think about my son – I’m not sure if he’s on the autism spectrum (I don’t believe he is), but he is honest to a fault. It’s something I frequently tell him I admire, and then get frustrated at, and like you, it’s as aspect of his personality that he’ll need to address somehow, and maybe in multiple ways according to situations, throughout his life.

        1. I wish your son the best of luck. The trait has done me more harm than good over the years, making it something of an interesting tradeoff for being unable to lie convincingly. (Except when telling a completely unbelievable tall tale, precisely because it has zero relation to an event in reality, but that’s another story for another time). I know you’ll do a great job of figuring out how to bring him to a solution. : ]

  3. Kushida became my favourite character from the moment she secretly showed her significant jealousy over the long hair girl from the moment the Main boy raised a nice complement about her to another red hair classmate.
    To be frankly, at the beginning, I was not really expectful about this anime. It was started by a common and predictable senario.
    – A girl who is moral and nice to everyone, who cannot ignore when seeing someone who need helps
    – A boy who is super smart cold hearted and feel unnessary to help the other
    – Another looked more beautiful and smarter girl who feel the same
    The conversation on bus was priceless and we saw it everyday
    Finally, only the first girl whose voice on and be willing to do the right thing to old people.
    – I will say, the main boy is smart but common : cool, smart, unpredictable, half of moral and unmoral, has lots secret, hold everything in hand. Anyway I love all of his quotes. And he is perfectly fit the role of leading character because he help us to question, reveal, and access all types of humanbeing performing in this story.

    – The long hair girl is even more common : lonely, anti-social, disgusted everyone but keep on talking so much w the Main talking about big target and cool like the final boss, motivation is self-regconition -> U20 girl usually prefer this type. But I feel this type quite loudsy and bossy, not so much interest

    – Much more than any other characters, I prefer the short hair Kushida. She is moral, but a part of her is not willing to, that is when her inner has to fight and showed a fake moral instead. But like a normal person, she likes most of everyone (not everything is fake) but she has someone she hate and decided to not showing off. Mostly because she herself knows that it’s bad.
    I highly applause to this this person while most of people turn back on her. Because of her little fake feeling that they implied everything she did was people she is 2 faced ? I admit to myself that most of time, I am just like her, that I’m not perfect, sometimes I cannot truly congrat my opponent or even friend and I have to swallow down my angry or jealousy trying to act nice. Because I guess I has matured enough to know what is ugly and impolite. If I know One thing is obviously bad, I will not show it to everyone and ask they accept me because I’m real. By contrast, if you know your attitude is bad and gonna hurt someone or even impact on your further days, please don’t throw it to other people.
    Fake moral is only for temporary uses but still better than doing bad thing immediately. Practicing a fake moral will be helpful because after that you will have more time to think about it, to talk to your real heart, training it and slowly growing up after. This type of people still has a strong distinguish between right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, and they can still develop and grow.

    I appreciate Kushida 2 faces (moral and fake moral even if she will be forever this way) more than the way Main boy acting (actually is also a fake moral, even more seriously than her, he just thinks about people as tools, and he will not do the right thing if it will not impact on him, remember the bus scene and the scene he picked up the trash bin). For me, the Main is the totally fake, while Kushida only turns fake to people she hate. (The long hair girl without any reason hates her first, so it’s easy to understand why she doesn’t like that girl much, moreover, it’s also because at the beginning Kushida has already raising her feeling to the Main. She’s quite fast in loving him, I guess she adore of his practical intelligence in helping other)

    Besides, I feel she is double cute when she shows little confused about herself. She is moral because of well education and good heart, that was true, but just because of sometimes, in somes specific cases, to some specific people she doesn’t dare to show negative feelings, that she implied herself as having 2 sides and getting scared. That thought prevent her from showing it to anyone. Although it’s just a normal thing everyone once has been through. She is innocent and pure. In my opinion she is the best girl in this series.

    The best part is the way she dared her crush, it’s really surprising and scary, but later she didn’t not stop showing her cuteness in front of him, or building barrier around him, she doesn’t think about that accidence as something can stop her from love and being loved. This is a high level of self-regconition, she accept every pieces of her own. Friendly is her, moral is her, fake moral sometimes is also her, she may feel uncomfortable if other people know she sometime get jealous and speak bad things out of mouth, but she doesn’t feel she gonnabe less valued to be this way. And she did’t feel embarrassing about herself in front of her own self and the one she love.

    She is smart in self-controlling, good at choosing and picking which pieces of mind to show to whom that proper. Because her talent is building big circle of relationship, she takes advantage of her strength obviously, she is helpful, caring and really trustful and has high productivity in work.
    The motivaton of her helping the other is including the reason that she also wants to help friends, although most of her friends not know her dark side, she still try her best to help them, she doesn’t get used of them like tools, she doesn’t fake anything for her benefit, her friends receive big benefit too at the same time. So It is a real two side friendship.
    And it occurs everywhere normally when who look at it, nobody is perfect, someone maybe somehow different from what they usually treat us, but they still treat us by heart and do good things for us.

    I want to say that, it’s okey to be like Kushida, she is real and cute
    I want to watch more about her. I ship Kushida to the main as I want to see someone who love her from her everything.

    1. Thank you for sharing. That’s quite a piece in support of Kushida! I do agree in that I think there’s a strange authenticity to her double-face, and that makes her both compelling and, and in a ironic sense, mature. Definitely a cool character!

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