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We're done being taken care of...

Resolute words Mayu quickly finds hard to keep to

Mayu's decision to live at Maple House is the first break in the love triangle between Kouta, Yuka and Lucy/Nyu, and the moment that, perhaps, these star-crossed would-be lovers also become a family. Functionally, the choice seems a no-brainer for the homeless Mayu. But as with most such pivotal moments, so very much is revealed about these characters by their actions, and for Mayu in particular, this deceptively simple choice is not so cut-and-dry.

When we meet her, Mayu is homeless and alone, save for Wanta, fleeing a home life of sexual assault and cold indifference if not hostility. It is only by accident that she encounters Kouta, Yuka, and Nyu, but from there on in she is inevitably drawn back to them. If her path seems set by the story, again to the character herself, it is never quite that simple.

The kind-hearted and generous nature of the two college students is on display immediately, along with their arguable naïveté, first demonstrated when they brought Nyu home, although other circumstances influenced their failure to approach authorities. They don't know the girl they're bringing in. They don't know how her hard life has affected and possibly twisted her. They don't know if they might be robbed or assaulted, or even falsely accused of a crime. If they ever had these concerns or simply brushed them aside for offering aid, it becomes apparent that Mayu is incapable of not considering what all this means.

In Maple House, she found a warm place to sleep, regular food, and a bath, something she hadn't seen in some time (one version says a month, but whether she had that at home or elsewhere is unclear, as is the overall timeframe of Mayu's being homeless). Add to that, Wanta would also be fed and cared for, a huge concern for the girl for whom the dog was a literal lifeline.

But to Mayu's mind, warmth, food, and bathing were not the comfortable certainties they might have once been to her. Until she resisted and revealed her stepfather's depredations, all these things were hers without question, and yet she knew only misery and loneliness. In both versions, it took two visits to Maple House before she chose to stay; in the manga, she picked this out of feeling she had no other choice, while in the anime, Kouta and Yuka sought her out.

The resistance to the idea came from different things on different levels. On one, the people of Maple House seem kind, and she does not wish to be a burden upon them. On another, her mind is still processing or trying to avoid handling the presence of Nyu, who she witnesses becoming Lucy once again, and then views cutting off Nana's leg during their battle. But the final one is what most complicates what should be a clear choice. For as is seen later, a mishap with Kouta and the aggressively playful and curious Nyu is all it takes to bring out her fear that her hosts may be just the same as the abusive parents she fled. Rather than face that horror again, and fearing that she will this time be unwilling to leave, Mayu at first chooses to ride out her harsh but stable existence.

The supposed stability of her pattern of surviving while homeless was likely always an illusion. Civil authorities often roust the homeless from their spots once they are found out. The veracity of the woman claiming to be Wanta's real owner aside, Wanta could have been lost to her quickly in any number of ways, from being separated while at a shelter, or meet a far grimmer fate. Even if the Bakery Merchant had not closed shop, in a beach town like Kamakura, seasonal closures are not unknown, or if that lady were not the store owner, she could be directed not to give out the bread crumbs on which Mayu lived. In the anime, Mayu finds herself rousted by police who were possibly tipped off by Wanta's supposed owner, while in the manga, it was beach flooding that brought them, something that was likely inevitable on a shorefront. Add to all that; she had a few pieces of clothing to her name, for which usability is one problem while outgrowing them rapidly at her age was also inevitable.

But likely, none of this crossed Mayu's mind as she initially decided the risk of trusting again was simply too great. Her final decision, while pushed hard by necessity, is still a courageous one, and except for her suspicions of Kouta (and perhaps that Yuka would side with him over her in dispute), her time on the streets also stays with her in a positive way. Those hard times leave her savvier when someone takes Nyu away and better able to ease Nana's eventual entry into Maple House.

Moving in for Mayu is a simple, real-world decision; her conflict over doing so came from what she had seen in the world. In this instance, a lonely girl and her puppy were able to be saved.

No, that's not right. I'll only be a burden!

Mayu's last line of objection crumbles as she accepts her new home and family

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