Can ya boi have a meta about Ray's development through the series, cause.
Well, I covered Ray’s beginning arc here which I’ll link to [here] so I don’t end up repeating what I already said. Around the tie Yugo appeared in the story, my summary of Ray’s main role is to be the more rational one between Norman and Emma. The trio basically shakes out this way, Norman and Emma are more idealistic because Norman is willing to go to extremes for the sake of others whereas Emma naturally begins by assuming you should save everyone and works from their. Ray cares for his family as well, but he’s willing to make sacrifices and move on from those sacrifices in order to save as many people as possible.
However, Ray’s willing to sacrifice others is not only a flaw Ray himself perceives himself as a defect in himself in comparison to Norman and Emma. The way that Ray sees it Norman and Emma are the goods ones, the heroes who are going to save all their siblings and he was the one who did the dirty work. He already started with his hands the most dirty by not telling others the truth about gracefield house and by letting a few of their siblings be sacrificed so he could figure out his escape plan in the long run. However, not only was he sacrificing others, Ray sacrificed himself and dirtied his hands doing necessary work for their escape and he always did it with their escape in ind even informing Emma and Norman in an indirect way the day they went to give Connie’s bunny back the truth of gracefield house. He also had no plan to escape himself, and planned on burning himself alive as a distraction so Emma and Norman could escape.
So, not only is Ray willing to do morally gray side of things in order to bring their plans together, he is also very self loathing because of his willingness to stoop this low. Norman and Emma are the heroes and he’s the most unnecessary one of the trio, he’s the sacrifice, that’s how Ray has always seen it and that’s how Ray still sees it. Part of the reason Ray did not tell Norman and Emma and instead knew the secret all alone for the longest time is because he thought he deserved it. He thought he deserved to be alone and to be suffering alone.
Norman and Emma at least had a simulated happy life for the first eleven years of their upbringing where they were unaware, but Ray knew he was cattle from the beginning and basically planned his suicide his entire life. That’s some astronomically low self esteem. Ray is actually the most intellectual of the three, he’s the one who is most bound by logic and the way he sees it between the three of them, Norman the brilliant one who can make Emma’s ideals come to reality, and Emma the selfless leader who inspires Norman with her ideals, he’s the unnecessary one and the most logical sacrifice. Ray was not only raised outside the warmth of other people but he also thinks he doesn’t deserve it. And just as Ray said, the ones who save him from this unhealthy mindset is Norman and Emma time and time again and the time he spent with them. Even when he was aware that their orphanage was fake and they would all die one day, playing with Norman and Emma was still fun for him.
However, even when Emma saves him this too is just another time Ray is outdone by them. He’s still someone who needs to be saved by Norman and Emma, he’s still someone who loses in comparison to them. When the reality is that Ray is just as integral to the group dynamic as both Norman and Emma are, their escape would not be feasible without the sacrifices Ray made.
Ray does not acknowledge that and he is also yet to acknowledge it. If you analyze his actions post escape he almost always goes off on his own.
Despite being a vital member of the group who is able to keep a cool head when others cannot and even is referred to as being smarter than Norman, Ray sees his emotionally distant personality as a deficit time and time again even though it’s the method to his success as well.
He believes he owes everything he achieved to Emma and Norman even though it was Ray who came up with the strategy to take down the demon that was hunting them.
Yet Ray almost loses it when Emma dies. He sees everything good in his life as the result of both Norman and Emma and he already had to sacrifice Norman once which puts an unhealthy amount of dependence on Emma.
In the most recent arc, when the other children are hesitant to kill human enemies it’s Ray who ends up deciding first that they have to fight back.
Which is the decision the adults end up making for the sake of the entire group, that they have to stay behind and kill the humans. Which once more, Ray is thinking of himself as the most expendable one, the one who has to take repsonsibility, and the one who has to dirty his hands.
Ray even admits he’d be completely willing to do it, which makes sense as by his own definition he’s already committed murder by letting their fellow orphanage members get eaten so he could devise an escape plan in the future.
Ray’s also jumping to sacrifice himself and has to be convinced away from it by the adults. Ray basically views himself as the adult and therefore the one who has to take all responsibility in these situations. It doesn’t come from a healthy place either, it comes from his own self loathing at what he did in the past, and his viewing himself as less necessary than Emma and Norman because he can’t be as idealistic as either of them.
And remember everybody in the cast has an adult foil. For Ray it was Yugo, somebody who could not find the will to live on when everybody else around him left him. Despite being solitary in nature, Ray is actually completely dependent on Norman and Emma for his emotional well being because they were the only good things in his life. If he lost them he would risk regressing to a state like Yugo did, and not only that Yugo’s eventual fate was to die sacrificing himself for others. Which Ray has already tried to do before.
Like Yugo Ray deals with suicidal feelings and ultimately views himself as expendable, but because of circumstances Yugo had to make himself expendable to save others and never outgrew that trait of his. If Ray sacrifices himself now, especially after the traumatic loss of Yugo and Lucas and the security they had in their shelter it will definitely not be for the right reasons. The message of the manga is that even though fighting is tough, and everything looks hopeless, and you might even lose everybody it’s a good thing to stay alive for as long as you possibly can.
And once Yugo, Ray’s adult foil is lost to his own self sacrifice Ray starts to regress into some of his more negative traits after a year and a half of positive growth. We see him playing the cynic again and starting fights with others the same way he used to with Norman and Emma. Then immediately feeling bad for saying something so cynical.
When they’re threatened by a human being, it’s Ray who resolves to dirty his hands right away refusing to see himself as a child and immediately wanting to pick up the burden.
Ray’s also worried sick and Emma’s really the only one who notices that he’s concerned for other people. Because he doesn’t present it in a kind and motherly way like Emma always does.
When they’re attacked by a demon, Ray’s primary strategy is to run away and buy time because that’s the strategy he always comes up with drawing the demon’s attention to him because he’s the most expendable one while Emma gets to play the hero.
Hayato even points out hos dangerous his impulse decision was. So while Ray is currently regressing mentally and falling back on old, bad habits that are based on his own self loathing and low self value he’s been united with Norman whose the leader of a demon resistance group.
Notice once again, Ray hugs both Norman and Emma at the same time because Norman and Emma are both equally important to him and they’re the reasons his life was worth anything at all.
Reuniting with Norman could be god or bad for his mental health. Part of Ray has always seen it wrong that Norman was the one who sacrificed himself and he survived alongside Emma, because he thought Norman was better than him and deserved to be saved. Ray also carried severe guilt from Norman’s loss. Ray tends to put Norman on a pedestal the same way Emma does. Which is why reuniting with his friend could be just as unhealthy, because the mistake that was Norman sacrificing himself and Ray surviving has been corrected and he might decide that now that those two are reunited he’s the unnecsssary one.
What Ray needs to realize is that he’s vitally important to both Norman and Emma and he earns his place in the group, he’s not just leeching off of their idealism he takes care of them as much as they take care of him. If he’s able to better evaluate his own achievements and contributions as an individual he’ll realize how own importance to the group and their tro dynamic will be better off for it, but first and foremost their trio is probably going to have to shake up in order to get to that realization first.