Rebloggable format - Requested by veluphora
C: [Potential Spoiler Commentary] I hesitate to call Ren’s feelings “love” because of their destructive quality. I believe she was more obsessed with Akira, Akira’s power, Akira’s influence, and the attention Akira paid to her. Even Shigure calls her actions obsessive.
We don’t know too much about Ren’s past, but we do know that she was of a lower class and a maid in the Sohma household. Her mostly unknown background was intentional. In an author’s note in Chapter 121, Takaya says “I wanted to give the impression that her identity is unknown. An impression like… she’s not really human. She’s a ‘spirit.’”
Most likely, she never had much power and was often overlooked in favor of others in a higher position. Because of her relationship with Akira, she now had money, power, servants, and the attention of a beautiful and gentle man like Akira. Without his attention, she is nothing. She is fixated on the idea that the only person Akira could and should ever love was herself. She even goes as far as saying that the only person who deserves to touch his things is herself. This doesn’t seem protective, just possessive and obsessive.
While she constantly says that she was the only good thing in Akira’s life, she was the only one who could “save him,” and that she was the only thing that existed in his world, I think she is projecting her own feelings onto him. Akira “saved her” from her previous life, he was the only good thing in her world… Without him, she was nothing, a nobody, not important. But for Ren, she needs the feeling of being loved and cherished. She needs to believe it was the other way around.
Because of her obsession with feeling loved, she was jealous of Akito. She refused to carry the baby if it was not raised as a boy; she felt like this might still keep her as the top woman in Akira’s life, though she was wrong.
Her frightening behavior doesn’t sound like love to me, or at least a healthy love. In the beginning, she did treat Akira with kindness that brought him out of his loneliness. But instead of helping him build good and lasting relationships with other people too, she was selfish and wanted to keep him all to herself. That makes me think that she didn’t care so much about Akira’s needs and his loneliness, but her own fears and loneliness. This ties back to the “spirit” reference by Takaya. Spirits have no real form, no substance all by themselves. Ren is always searching for substance and meaning to put into her life through Akira.
As for the Akira and the original god, I never saw much of a connection between their personalities, aside from their appearance and the fact that they both filled the god role in the Zodiac curse. In the old story, the god was selfish with his animals, and showed a rash temper when he banished the cat from the banquet. Akito describes her father as kind, affectionate and always smiling. We can assume he upheld the role of the god, but he seems to have a softer, quieter personality as a whole.
*Added commentary on Akira here*