You don’t really get a lot of characters dealing with illnesses, physical or mental, in anime. It’s not something that can be done without caution, you need to have a lot of nuance and tact to represent chronically ill individuals with sincerity like Ruka Sarashina. Even if it’s something lighthearted, it can add depth to the story that you can’t achieve otherwise. And hey, it doesn’t always have to end in tragedy, right? At least, fans of the popular harem manga, Rent-A-Girlfriend, sure hope so. Because fan-favorite Ruka Sarashina is too cute to lose!
Rent-A-Girlfriend hosts a roster of endearing characters but one you can’t help but root for is Ruka Sarashina, a supporting character who has been described as suffering from an ailment where her heart beats much slower than other human beings. Because of this, fans had feared her being a character that could’ve been killed off by the author to add some drama, but thankfully, she is alive and well so far! So, let’s pray and hope it stays that way.
Having a character dying from an illness being a focal point has been explored in anime before. One of the most notable (and tearjerking) examples of this is the cult classic anime Your Lie In April. It’s often tragic, heartbreaking, and something I personally don’t indulge in. But it’s always interesting to see an anime introduce a dynamic like that. Another anime that used a possible love interest that is chronically ill trope was Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl, a sequel to Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai.
So, if Ruka survives, what does her character bring to the table. That’s what we shall be discussing today in Character Analysis! This is where take a closer look at characters from across various mediums, including stuff like light novels, and break down their arcs. This way, we can get an idea of the route their journey will take, through foreshadowing and other hints. So, let’s see where Ruka’s journey takes us!
Ruka Sarashina: A Strong Soul With A Weak Heart
Ruka is a dichotomy. She starts out as little more than a blockade on the road that is Chizuru Ichinose and Kazuya Kinoshita’s relationship. But underneath her slightly childish nature, lies a woman that is passionate and outgoing despite the illness she suffers from.
The illness in question seems to be a more intense form of Bradycardia, where a person has a heartbeat that is comparatively slower than the normal population. This can lead to a host of issues, where even the lightest of activities can lead a person to be hospitalized because it was too strenuous for them.
It’s why fans reckon Ruka joined the Rental Girlfriend service, to gain back some autonomy that must’ve been lost since she spent her life in and out of hospitals. Being treated as fragile, even as a grown adult, must’ve really sucked.
But despite that, she is lively as they come. She is straightforward, not bothering with pretenses or hiding her true feelings. This can come across as brash and clingy, but that’s just who Ruka is. Though her determination can come across as being too stubborn for her good. Which leads to tantrums when things aren’t going her own way.
But she still tries to rise above her personal bias when push comes to shove, taking things seriously and showing impeccable restraint. But when she loves, she loves hard.
Kazuya Made Her Heartbeat Faster (Literally!)
The other reason she joins the rental service is to find a partner that could accept her with her heart condition and help her cope with it. And when she meets Kazuya, she is astounded by how her heart beats faster for the first time in her life. Because before him, no one else had had the same effect on her.
It was his sincerity, his genuine curiosity towards her, that makes her fall in love with him. But the way she goes about it is terrible. Ruka basically blackmails the guy into being her trial run for a boyfriend. And she does this by threatening to reveal Chizuru being a Rental Girlfriend as well.
At worst, she’s a minor antagonist to the main ship. But she’s also just trying this out of desperation. Being ill is no joke and sometimes, people tend to cling to anyone that shows them a modicum of kindness.
Ruka Sarashina Won’t Be Dying (But Her Ship Is)
Sadly, despite Chapter 187 revealing that Kazuya and Ruka have been intimate, we all know they won’t be ending up together. At this point, this crush on Kazuya has only been detrimental to Ruka’s self-esteem, pushing her further into despair.
And while she hasn’t been handling it the best, she deserves better than to pine for someone who doesn’t care for her the same way.
In the end, Kazuya x Chizuru is going to be the canon ship, as far as I can see. This is why fans just hope Ruka Sarashina gets a love worthy of her rambunctious personality!