Have you ever had to complete a group project with a really terrible partner? You fight and try and work as hard as you can, and often end up earning the same grade or evaluation as your collaborator. It’s the worst.
Hiro has been that kind of partner—an awful one. He has all the talent and none of the giving that you need for a successful relationship. I’ve already related how he ran Naomi into the ground (she shows up again in episode six, by the way, to again reemphasize what a terrible person Hiro has been—and to help wake him from his selfish stupor), but it’s been the same with 002. He has been using her to achieve his own goals, and once complete, goes and faints, leaving her to continue the fight on her own. Now that Hiro feels a sense of meaning again in his life and can die in peace, he totally forgets about helping his partner.
But your partner doesn’t have to be a total joke for you to feel resentment. In fact, if you’re like me, you’re liable to feel this way just by being in intimate relationships, where an even 50/50 split in talents, duties, and caring is impossible. Relationships are dynamic and complex, and people aren’t machines. The layers of partnership are demonstrated in Goro and Ichigo’s in episode six. Ichigo has been unstable since the beginning of the series, but shuts down (literally) when she thinks Hiro has died; Goro has to talk her up and be not only the rock that she has depended on, but the motivator to encourage her to continue forward.
If I were Goro, I would feel completely resentful. He is her partner. He is there for her. He is talented. And he is completely overshadowed by Hiro, who doesn’t really care a lick for Ichigo. That dynamic I understand, where the willingness is there, but the for whatever reason, one side doesn’t live up to his or her promise. I’ve been on Goro’s side before, supporting one that I thought should have been better; and I’ve certainly been on the other side, where I was Ichigo, taking my Goro for granted.
But the answer isn’t necessarily found in balancing the relationship. Lena, a character from my favorite book, The Joy Luck Club, is in a marriage where her husband is obsessed with everything being equal. It nearly destroys their marriage, not because it’s good for each to meet in the middle, but because their relationship was based on it rather than on love (and in fact, in Amy Tan’s screenplay based on her book, she has the couple divorce).
And ultimately, partnership in any form mirrors our most personal ones. For success to happen, there must be some love there, whether it’s that between romantic partners or a respect kind of love, as in business partnerships. Hiro finally realizes this when he awakes to see that though he’s satisfied, 002 is still fighting (and dying) and decides that he’ll finally give something of himself for another, sacrificing when he doesn’t need to. He shows her love.
Partnerships are not the thing of equality, but they can be successful when care is put in. That kind of respect and sacrifice can make up the ground between people when one side fails (as with Ichigo) or is unwilling to invest what’s necessary for success (Hiro). It’s how Goro can help Ichigo fight. It’s how 002 can get the best out of Hiro.
But while I encourage you to be that love that pulls the best out of your partner, even better, I wish you partners that think the same way, and that you’ll receive better ones when it counts the most. At least, I hope you get better ones than that guy Naomi got stuck with.
Featured illustration by 嘯 | reprinted w/permission