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The scene goes like this. Takada and Tetsuya are talking about Reiko possibly having romantic feelings towards Tetsuya. Tetsuya says there is no way this is true since she flat out rejected him before (but the truth is that she rejected him because of her extremely ツンデレ-like character, plus she felt a certain social pressure since he is a "common man" and she is sort of like an お嬢様).

Takada responds :

哲也、俺お前のストレートな性格好きだよ。でもな、人の心ってのはもっと複雑なもんなんだ。麗子ちゃんだって恋する男には健気なんだと思う。それが上手く出せないだけだ。

(rough translation) Tetsuya, I like how straightforward you are. But people aren't always so logical. I think even Reiko-chan is 健気 to a person she's in love with. She just doesn't know how to express that love.

And after that Tetsuya thinks to himself:

麗子さんが健気に俺を…

I'm having troubles grasping the exact meaning of 健気 here. From reading definitions and some articles I understand it has to do with her caring about him very seriously (and it also means that this attitude of hers is admirable and worth praise?). But I'm not quite sure why Takada uses 健気 here to convince Tetsuya, and I find difficult to put it in English words in a way that would sound nice.

What would be a good way to translate 健気 here? Would I need to restructure Takada's speech to convey the idea better?

1

健気に in romantic context is often used with 尽くす and I think this usage conveys the nuance well. It describes how a person selflessly devotes him/herself (but mainly women), and refers especially to how pure & focused the person is in that devotion.

E.g. when a person is being 健気, they:
- Prioritise the other, especially their goal (over their own goals)
- Don't complain and hide how they are struggling (especially from the other)
- Don't lie, be malicious or manipulative etc. (i.e. be pure)
- Endure hardship

That's the original meaning but like the phrase "awesome" it's been overused and doesn't always carry that sort of gravity - it can just mean someone is 女らしい (because 健気 is essentially seen as the ideal behavior of women in the traditional value system).

In this context I think Takada is trying to say 麗子 would also behave that way (i.e. 女らしく) to her SO, but can't because she has trouble showing her true emotions.

2

この文脈では、「高圧的だったり反抗的だったりせず、おとなしい」と「真剣で、だから可愛らしい」を合わせたような感じです。やや難しい日本語だと「甲斐甲斐しい」「いじらしい」などがだいたい同じ意味です。

簡単な英単語だとpure, sincere, earnest, genuineあたりが近いと思いますが、あまりぴったりではないかもしれません。文脈からは普段のツンデレ的な態度の反対であることが重要なのだと思うので、sincereがいいのかもしれません。

いくつかの辞書にはbrave, heroic, manly, valiantなどとありますが、これらは文脈とまったく合致しません。以下の記事が参考になります。

「けなげ」と「いじらしい」を英訳すれば

逆境にある弱い存在が苦しみを耐え忍びながらひたすら努める、それが「けなげ」なのである。そのすがたを賞賛することばが「けなげ」なのである。

和英辞典の示したadmirable, laudableは「けなげ」に含まれる「弱小性」「逆境性」「忍耐性」「勤勉性」という要素がすべて欠落していて、賞賛すべき理由が示されない。

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