If his grandfather is as powerful and rich as he appears to be, nothing would probably happen and Kaoru would probably be further punished for the attempt to "shame the family."
Be honest. Child abuse exists (and is under-reported) in America, and the rich here can also get away with nearly anything.
Why would the Sakuraba family split dramatically over one marriage, which was chosen by Aoi? Is there no concept of familial loyalty or love in Japan?
Japan is not America. There's family loyalty, but it's expected to flow mostly from children to parents. Children are expected to obey their elders without question. Admittedly, this is a very old-fashioned attitude very few Japanese families still follow strictly, but the Sakurabas are exactly the sort of stick-up-the-rear old fashioned types who would treat it as truth.
Hyperbolic responses aside, both are dramatic devices to make Kaoru sympathetic to the audience, especially in regards to him remaining a decent guy despite his trouble. It's especially important because it's very easy to think of him in an overly-ideal situation when it comes to Aoi, so the audience sees it as balancing karma rather than being jealous of him.
Having read Volume 17, this troper thinks that what Kaoru and Aoi did do kicked ass. Essentially, "Take the name, the money, and the status, and shove 'em. That other dude can have it." Though he was very polite about it.
This is something I've never quite understood. After the earliest chapters of the manga, and, I believe, episode 4 in the anime equivalent, Kaoru and Aoi do exactly what they do AGAIN volumes later as recorded in the entry above. That is to say, at the VERY beginning of the story, after meeting and falling in love again, when the Sakuraba's come to interfere Aoi tells her mother and father (by proxy) "I love Kaoru, I'm going to live my life with Kaoru, and if you don't like it and mean to stand against me in the name of the Sakurabas, then as much as it hurts me I will renounce everything and just live happily with him. In response, the Sakurabas (specifically her parents) are forced to cave in because they still love her. Good and well, but they then say, well, we'll agree, but as a stipulation you have to agree to live under our auspices, hide your relationship and feelings from EVERYONE, and pretend, even in private not to know each other. AND THEY AGREE. After already "winning". This essentially sets up the entire series with patented nonsense. It wouldn't be quite SO bad if the solution to all their problems (other "romances like Tina aside") wasn't what they had already done, and "won" with, in the earliest chapters.
Granted, it's been awhile since I've seen it, but... It seems to me that they agreed to the auspices as a way to help the Sakurabas save face, as well as essentially buy time. Keep in mind that Kaoru, at this time, is a student with little in the way of prospects for supporting a spouse. By taking the deal, he gets time to finish school, and keeps from making a more serious enemy of the Sakurabas. Not to mention that he's stated multiple times that he doesn't want Aoi to suffer the pain of loss that he did. This arrangement makes the situation, if not perfect, then stable. Later, when he has prospects, and when the Sakurabas show that they are planning to force the issue, is when the events of the end of the manga occur.
With all that said, I ached for Aoi to issue a polite-as-hell, proper-as-all-get-out, steeped-in-the-culture-as-you-can-get respectful but direct rebuke to her father's vicious lie about his health. One can argue her actions were that rebuke, but perhaps for her to speak of broken or strained trust would have been the kick in the face he needed. Simple defeat may not penetrate his thick skull enough to bring the lesson home.
I always saw it as "Ok, we've given you time to play house, but now that we have been given ample evidence that the real Hanabishi heir is present, and he doesn't agree to your continuing your little charade, we are going to enforce our parental will on you and you will do what we had intended from the beginning, which is to merge Hanabishi and Sakuraba."
Aoi's father uses the exact phrase "playing house" in one translation of the manga scene when Aoi is to be married off to someone else besides either Kaoru (the son of a trader, who isn't discussed in any more detail except for him being someone who isn't the Kaoru Aoi loves). That marriage deal is somewhat strange, especially since the terms of the will technically don't apply to the other Kaoru. It's possible that there's more to the Sakuraba family leadership than Aoi's parents, as Aoi's mother notes in Chapter 102 that it would be difficult for the Sakuraba to accept Kaoru considering his prospects (as opposed to specifically talking about her husband), despite her deciding to trust Aoi and Miyabi's favorable views of him.
Aoi and Karou could have won in the first few chapters of the story.. but chose not to pay the price to elope, pretty reasonably. Aoi and her parents both expected the other side to come around to their point of view, and neither was willing to take things so far as to create a hard to heal rift between them or to damage the Sakubura zatabusia with a struggle over who would be the heir. Like the poster above said, it gave Karou time to finish school and be able to support Aoi, and let them find a solution that didn't damage the company or her parents.
Why, if he was an heir born of marriage, was the other Kaoru not automatically in line above our Kaoru? If Kaoru-1 was technically a bastard, then the asshole granpa should have excluded him from the start.
Normally, yeah, but Kaoru Honjou was formally adopted as the Hanabishi heir. For what reason, it's not entirely clear; maybe his grandfather just couldn't stand the thought of his oldest grandson, bastard or not, living as the son of a commoner.
That is a good explanation, though, considering the fact that the old man's approval was so important to his son, the mother of Kaoru-2 must have had his approval, which we know K-1's Mom did not. Maybe it was some hidden layer of guilt about not giving his son the wife he wanted? Another, darker explanation would be that, as a bastard, K-1 would owe him everything, whereas K-2 would be the legitimate heir no matter what, and excluding him would be difficult, if he were disobedient. Even banishing his mother, his late son's wife, would be much more problematic than with K-1's Mom. Another thing : We almost must infer that K-2's Mom named him as a deliberate slight on her husband's existing son—maybe even originally with the old man's urging and approval. In an AU, I'd have to wonder what Papa Sakuraba would do the first time Aoi or one of his grandchildren were to show signs of scarring from the sort of treatment the Hanabishi's approved of. It may have been because of K-1's refusal to forget his Mom, but somebody willing to do that would find other reasons.
Considering the situation, don't any of the other tenants find it odd that Kaoru refers to his landlady and manager by their first names?
None of them ever really asked how it was that Kaoru came to be the first tenant, so they don't know how long he was there or how old the relationship was. You have Tina, who knew Japan's culture but not every last in and out, and wouldn't ask, probably one of the only areas she wouldn't intrude. Taeko was too grateful to have a job and someplace to stay, and crushing on both Kaoru and Miyabi, wouldn't think to ask. Mayu, I did wonder about, since hers was a wealthy family, as she knew the Hanabishis but never placed Aoi as one of *the* Sakurabas. Or maybe she did, and just assumed that Aoi was running the place as a test for her family's business, and since Kaoru would be of the same social standing, thought nothing of them addressing each other by name. Chika was just a kid, heavily crushing on Kaoru and very fond of Aoi. Also, you have the rule against characters asking premise-dissolving questions or taking such actions.
Good point. That does also answer the question I forgot to ask, don't they notice anything odd in the way Aoi and Miyabi both refer to Kaoru very respectfully (Tina and Chika probably wouldn't notice, Taeko wouldn't think it's anything important enough to notice, and Mayu would probably even approve).
This one may not quite rise to the level of this page, but : Just what was Miyabi confabbing with Kaoru about all those times in private? I would have assumed that she was asking him about rejoining the Hanabishis, but he did not seem reluctant to speak with her, and they often were shown looking over ledgers. It Just Bugs Me! that the business they were discussing was never elaborated upon. Please—no jokes about K/Miy.
Possibly Sakuraba business-related ventures? If Kaoru was going to marry into the family, it would have made sense that he had an idea of what was going on.
I wouldn't be surprised if she was also using it as an excuse to spend time with him to make goddamned sure that he was good enough for Aoi. Not a stretch considering how much Miyabi loves her.
Kaoru was studying business law. If I had to guess, I'd assume she was having him help review contracts and agreements while tutoring him on the finer points of business and getting a better feel for his character. An effective sort of unpaid internship with a very successful businesswoman that seems to really help Kaoru.
Miyabi notes that she's "disciplining" Kaoru and improving him, noting that he has become more reliable over time.
Why did the Sakuraba family, whose business is evidently quite prosperous, want to marry Aoi, apparently their only child and heir, to the heir of the even more wealthy Hanabishi? Merger? When a cartel the size of the Hanabishi "merges" with a company the size of the Sakuraba, most people call it a takeover.
Only if you're thinking about it from the perspective of a publicly-traded corporation rather than a political dynasty. As long as there have been dynasties, they have always sought to marry off their daughters — and their sons — to other dynasties. Among the many traditional benefits are peace treaties (in the case of war) or strengthened alliances (in the absence of war).
If Kaoru had remained heir to Hanabishi and Aoi still married him, the Sakuraba dynasty would end. Her children would be Hanabishi, not Sakuraba. A dynasty doesn't try to marry its heir to the heir of a more powerful dynasty — do that, and Sakuraba ceases to be a "kingdom" in its own right, and becomes a "province" of the Hanabishi "empire."
Japan's keiretsu conglomerates don't always function like their western counterparts. A horizontal merger between a smaller company (Sakuraba dry goods) and a larger conglomeration (Hanabishi...probably a ton of stuff) can stand for greater long-term profit for both, and the Sakuraba wouldn't necessarily lose their own power structure or even their name. After all, not every company in the Mitsubishi keiretsu bears that name (like Kirin Brewery or Asahi Glass). The dynastic succession between the Hanabishi and Sakuraba heirs was likely a formality more than anything (after all, Aoi's parents even consider marrying her off to someone else)...at least until grandpa Hanabishi specified just who inherited everything. It's even possible that the merger actually went through, and it simply didn't have much visible, practical effect on Miyabi taking over the Sakuraba company.
In the dub, if "Kaoru-dono" was translated to "Sir Kaoru," then why isn't "Kaoru-sama" translated into "Lord Kaoru" or something?
Both the "-dono" and the "-sama" suffixes can (and ought to in most cases) be translated the same way. They merely indicate different levels of respect and/or the difference in standing, with "-sama" being more respectful but also more distant.