I am in love with this couple and their “relationship.” This couple is probably my second favorite within anime aside from Aaeru and Neviril from Simoun. Shizuru’s feelings for Natsuki is absolute and pure, so strong that she would be willing to do anything for Natsuki. She even hid these feelings in fear of burdening Natsuki. Natsuki’s feelings for Shizuru are on an instinctive level, pure, unexplored, but would definitely develop. At the end of Mai-HiME, it’s ambiguous whether they end up together or not, but I believe that they do. There is no denial/rejection between the two of them after they revived. And then I found Natsuki no Prelude, read it, and now I have no question that they were meant to be.
Natsuki’s “conflict” within Mai-HiME is the question of “what is love.” When she accepted her fate as a HiME, she said that she did not have anyone important to her, that such a person did not exist. But by the end of the series, she knows she has someone important to her. Until she’s found and accepted Shizuru’s feelings, I feel that she intentionally (whether consciously or not) chooses to deny the concept of loving and being loved, because of her past fear of losing a loved one (her mother). Ultimately, she didn’t want to lose another person that she loved, which is why she tells Shizuru and Takeda to not get so close to her; because she didn’t want to lose them.
Shizuru was a very admirable character. Beautiful and strong. She loved Natsuki and would do anything if it was for her sake. Do you think you’re allowed to get away with anything, if it’s for the sake of the one you love? She does. For Natsuki’s sake, she’d do anything. Even if it meant killing everyone else that was a threat to Natsuki. Even when she was forced to fight Natsuki, she had no intentions of harming her. She only wanted Natsuki to be by her side.
During the confession part, Natsuki did reject Shizuru out of fear (the vision of Shizuru violating Natsuki). And feeling rejected by Natsuki + the risk of losing Natsuki in the HiME battles, Shizuru fell apart emotionally and went on a killing spree. Unfortunately, Natsuki wasn’t able to call her child, Duran, to protect the others. A child represented a HiME’s “emotion” (omoi) for their most important person. Not being able to call her child meant Natsuki did not hold any emotion for another, since she had lost her only trust/love in her mother. In such a state, she could only watch as Shizuru took away other people’s lives, all for the sake of protecting Natsuki.
(On the other hand, Shizuru’s Kiyohime was the largest of all the Childs shown in the series, which symbolizes her immense love for Natsuki <3)
During the final battle between Shizuru and Natsuki, Natsuki was able to call her child, which had grown considerably big. A child’s size is measured by the volume of “emotion” (omoi) for another individual. The fact that Duran was bigger than the average size symbolized the strength of a strong “emotion” for another person — Shizuru. Shizuru saw this emotion as “hate” for her, but at the end of the battle, Natsuki said that she loved Shizuru. And that part was extremely confusing and vague. When Shizuru grabs a hold of Natsuki and pulls her into an embrace, Natsuki kisses Shizuru. It was not a particularly passionate, long kiss, but still, Natsuki voluntary kissed Shizuru. Honestly, in my personal opinion, the kiss would NOT have happened in the story at all, if Natsuki did not feel anything romantic for Shizuru. I don’t think it’s to lower Shizuru’s guard or done out of pity either. It was a fact that Natsuki was afraid of Shizuru for violating her in her sleep/being taken advantage of. So the fact that Natsuki even had the courage to kiss Shizuru meant that she somehow overcame her fear of being violated by Shizuru and possibly forgave her for everything (killing all the other HiMEs’ child and the violation). When she told Shizuru that she can’t reciprocate her feelings the way Shizuru wanted her to, I think she meant it in the way that she didn’t know how to/didn’t know if what the “love” for Shizuru is what Shizuru desired. Keep in mind that Natsuki isn’t really aware of what “love” really is. She’s lived all her life without being able to trust anyone, without being able to truly love another person. Therefore, I think Natsuki’s “love” for Shizuru is on an instinctive level (where she knows she feels something for Shizuru, but can’t grasp it properly yet), which is different from Shizuru’s “love,” which is on a passionate level (where she accepted Natsuki for who she is, and loves Natsuki wholeheartedly). Since no one can really teach you how to love, you would only find out as you explore the unknown. Natsuki is on the stage where she is trying to find answers for the first time. If you read into Natsuki no Prelude, the epilogue portion explains her thoughts and actions in episode 25.
Anyway, ultimately, Natsuki wanted to put an end to Shizuru’s rampage, so in the end, she orders Duran to shoot Kiyohime at point blank range, knowing that it would be the end for the both of them. This is foreshadowed with her last parting with Mai. If you watched the disappearing scene closely, Kiyohime disappeared, and after Natsuki disappears, which meant Duran disappears, and so Shizuru disappears…which means Shizuru IS Natsuki’s most important person. Simply, beautiful.
I truly believe they do end up together in the future. So long live Shizuru and Natsuki <3.
Natsuki’s character song – Kirei na Yume no Sono Hate Ni (translation)
(Personally, I think it is addressed to Shizuru)
Shizuru’s character song – Katakoi Enka (translation)
(And of course, this song is about her love for Natsuki)
Special 04 – Shizuru’s feelings when she first met Natsuki
Special 22 – Natsuki’s feelings when she first met Shizuru
This analysis/interpretation explains a lot too: ShizNat Webs
—- Update —-
I just did this for fun… According to the official Mai-HiME site, Natsuki is a Leo and Shizuru is a Sagittarius. I looked up their compatibility and I get a lot of “works very well” and “they compliment each other” results :D. Go ShizNat!