I am not quite sure who brought this up in class but I know we were discussing the part in the early chapters where Emi comforts Ichiro after he joins her bed and how that was a very, I dare say, maternal thing to do. This made me start to think that in some way Ichiro replaces his mother with Emi and his father with Kenji in terms of sharing emotions.
His father is quite often drunk and while he and Ichiro do talk some it is in no way to the extent to which him and Kenji talk about feelings. His father also often doesn’t have answers or advice for Ichiro while Kenji often does, even when he is hours away from death. That scene especially kind of solidified this thought in my mind because I feel like if a reader had no idea about the characters that their conversation could have been mistaken as one between a son and his dying father.
His relationship with Emi also seems to act this way to me. She comforts when he’s upset and his mother never did, she offers him advice and chastises his negative thinking, in the way a mother should. After just meeting her a few hours before, he was able to share his feelings and emotions with her, when he never could and didn’t want to with his mother. (I realize saying this about him and Emi could get weird since there are obvious romantic feelings there but I’m gonna ignore that to make this point and just think about the sharing of his sadness and anxiety and concerns about his future).
I just think that Ichiro has been deprived of the emotional support that parents are supposed to provide their kids with, especially in his time of emotional turmoil in this book, and he has found replacements of a sort in Kenji and Emi.