Yukari TakebaI was initially planning to write about Mitsuru's feelings and interactions with Yukari when considering how to tackle this page. However, the more I thought about their relationship and Mitsuru's developmental points, I began to realize their relationship is symbolic of Mitsuru's character growth. Each stage of her relationship with Yukari depicts Mitsuru's stages of thinking and relating to other people throughout her growth. Further, Yukari teaches Mitsuru one of the most important and basic lessons in her life that allows her to push forward and grow into herself despite obstacles: how to ask for help. She is definitely an important person in Mitsuru's life and she will always treasure their friendship. Yukari stood by her during a time she found herself in darkness. Mitsuru tells her later on she still considers their talk in Kyoto as one of the most cherished moments of her life for that reason. They had a rough start, but eventually are able to come to understand each other and form a strong bond. They know they can count on each other for support when things get tough.
Mitsuru and Yukari's relationship can be depicted by one word in the beginning: tension. While neither of them disliked the other, they just didn't know how to act around each other. Yukari frequently wonders if Mitsuru has any weaknesses and talks of her being basically perfect. In one of the drama CDs, Yukari even tells Hidetoshi and Chihiro how jealous she is of them for knowing how to act in front of Mitsuru. At first it seems as if Yukari is just jealous of Mitsuru, but it is later revealed Yukari is frustrated because she doesn't know how to understand her. She's worried sick about Mitsuru doing everything herself and irritated with herself because she doesn't know what to do in order to help her. I think Mitsuru feels similarly regarding Yukari. After Yukari hears about the Kirijo Group's involvement in the Dark Hour and her father's death, she runs off by herself. Mitsuru is clearly concerned but asks the protagonist to go after her instead. I'm sure she wanted to make sure Yukari was okay but didn't feel confident in her ability to relate to and comfort her. This stage of their relationship takes place before Mitsuru undergoes any character development. She doesn't let herself depend on anyone and tries to take care of everything by herself. She is unreachable to others because she keeps a professional tone in all interactions and doesn't seem to be impacted emotionally by much of anything. Further, she also doesn't know how to relate to other people despite caring about them. Even so, Yukari kick-starts Mitsuru's growth by being the only person to actually confront her. She accuses her of not caring that all SEES was doing was cleaning up the Kirijo Group's mess as long as she got to fight. Mitsuru doesn't deny it and later in a social link with the protagonist admits Yukari was actually right; she just didn't realize it until Yukari pointed it out. She initially only thought in terms of how others could help her protect her father.
Mitsuru's first transition period begins after the death of her father. She withdraws even further from everyone, which really upsets Yukari. She finds Mitsuru near a riverbank while they are on the school trip in Kyoto. She knows Mitsuru is wallowing in a pool of self-blame and is worried about her. Mitsuru asks why she is still concerned about her because without a common enemy to defeat or a reason to fight, there was no reason for them to be friends. Though Yukari cares about Mitsuru a lot, she has clearly yet to reach her at this point. After Yukari shares her experiences when her own father died (and slaps Mitsuru across the face as a wake-up call), Mitsuru realizes more than just obligation ties them together. Yukari cared enough about her to stand by her side when she was in the dark. She didn't have to be concerned, but she was anyway. Her persistence was finally enough to break through Mitsuru's barrier and reach her. Not only does their conversation give Mitsuru a new resolve, but it also opens Mitsuru's heart into forming deeper relationships with the others. By becoming closer to Yukari, Mitsuru learns that it's okay to depend on and receive help from others. In this way, she indirectly learns it's okay to ask for help.
In the New Moon drama CD, much more of their relationship and development during this time is showcased. Mitsuru calls Yukari late at night after dealing with a stressful day back at home. She says her usual "don't worry" and "don't concern yourself," which just upsets Yukari more. She asks Mitsuru how she can possibly be so calm and say things like that when her father just died, because she was so sad she could die herself when her own father died. Yukari tells Mitsuru she had no one to talk to back then and thus was depressed for ten years after that due to holding everything inside. She did not want Mitsuru to be like her when she had people who care about her. Mitsuru is unable to explain her behavior. She knows she is incredibly sad but she has no idea what to say during times like these. In the following drama, Full Moon, Mitsuru is trapped on a helicopter being controlled by a Shadow. She knows she must sacrifice herself in order to prevent many more from being killed, especially because she doesn't think she can be saved given the circumstances. Yukari once again becomes upset at how calm she is despite what was happening. Mitsuru admits that she is afraid to burden others because they might die like her father and Shinjiro. Of course she is terrified and wants to be saved, but again she has no words in light of the situation. Yukari then realizes Mitsuru really wasn't calm or strong. She just didn't know that during times like this you are supposed to say "help me." Though much more dramatic and bluntly stated than in the game, Mitsuru still learns that it's okay to depend on others when she is having a hard time through Yukari.
Full Moon also showcases Yukari's teaching of this lesson symbolically through a dream Mitsuru has. A child version of herself climbed a tree in order to get fruit to give to her parents but is unable to get back down because a snake is coiled below it. Child Yukari approaches the tree and offers to help chase it off. Mitsuru denies her offer because it's too dangerous and it'll just be a burden, even though she is too afraid of it to deal with it on her own. Yukari protests by telling her she won't be able to come down if nothing is done about the snake and says she should say "help me." Mitsuru then wakes up. Clearly the dream is symbolic on multiple levels: Mitsuru being unreachable, doing something risky for her parents and being unable to face her fears. The use of the snake is especially interesting, though, because of what the animal can symbolize. Snakes can represent the suppression and denial of feelings as well as the acceptance of feelings that have been ignored for a long time. Further, the snake symbolizes transition, transformation and healing. It may appear in your life during a time when you are stepping into the unknown and need support in order to move forward. Mitsuru is afraid to depend on other people but is in a transition period in which she needs support in order to heal. Yukari truly becomes the person she needs to guide her in both the game and drama CD.
Mitsuru not only grows to rely on other people but also learns how to be there for someone else. Toward the end of The Answer, Yukari completely breaks down because she hurts so much over losing the protagonist. Mitsuru drops to her knees to be level with Yukari and gives her words of support:
"Yukari... To lose someone you had such a strong bond with is agony. But there's no need to suffer alone. You have us with you. Isn't that the whole point of forming such bonds?"After hearing this, Yukari cries and Mitsuru hugs her. Not only is Mitsuru able to emotionally support her, but she also feels close enough to Yukari to hug her as well. Such words and actions are leaps forward compared to when Yukari runs off at the Kirijo vacation home and Mitsuru has to have the protagonist go after her. She is open with her affections and is emotionally able to relate to another person. Additionally, it is clear that Mitsuru has truly taken Yukari's feelings to heart. She now knows the importance of relying on other people when feeling overwhelmed or hurt. This time, Mitsuru has to remind her of the cherished lesson Yukari originally taught her.