Tasogare Otome x Amnesia 05 – You fear what you see and you see what you fear
May 13, 2012 Leave a comment
The previous episodes of Tasogare Otome x Amnesia have largely focussed on Yuuko, exploring how her character fits into the stories and myths that surround Seikyou Academy. This week, however, looked in a little me detail at Kirie Kanoe and her relationship with, not only Yuuko, but also herself and how she perceives her own existence. But at the same time, by looking at Kirie Kanoe, we also look at Yuuko and her place within the academy once again, along with the idea that you may as well enjoy your time at school, or wherever you are, living in the moment rather than the past and not worrying about the future that has yet to be understood.
Yuuko as a character is incapable of leaving the grounds of Seikyou Academy; she is stuck there, perhaps by a curse, or some other supernatural force. This was implied in last weeks episode by showing her as extremely upset at being incapable of seeing Niiya for a few days during the holidays, however it was never really explained. This feeds into the idea surrounding her fear of being left behind and forgotten, but at the same time the idea of enjoying her time with Niiya while it is there. This week’s school festival therefore gives Yuuko an opportunity to enjoy herself and interact with the other students in one way or another.
By putting on a haunted house, Yuuko is capable of interacting wit others to some degree, although there is the distinct impression that she is merely using it as an excuse to once again be alone with Niiya. On the other hand, we see also see Kirie enjoying herself for the first time, walking around and looking at all the stalls, and even being dressed up as a maid by Okonogi Momoe and her friends. There is something wonderful about this, seeing a character who is as straight laced as Kirie get carried away, enjoying herself and having fun. There is an innocence about Kirie, as opposed to Yuuko who is far from an innocent girl. While Kirie may blush at the idea of perverted thoughts or actions, Yuuko is quite capable, and willing to force herself on Niiya. Now, this is in part Yuuko’s wish to have human contact, and her need to constantly reinforce it through contact, but it is also a difference in character and way of seeing the world.
One of the long running threads throughout Tasogare Otome x Amnesia has been the power of stories, and their ability to influence those who read or hear them. They twist and change depending on the circumstances, often warping into something that is both terrifying, but also strange and perhaps farcical. As Yuuko points out, while normally people cannot necessarily see her, under the right circumstances anyone will be aware of her presence. The haunted house is specifically designed to create the atmosphere needed to see or maybe simply notice Yuuko, allowing her to participate in the school festival, while at the same time being outside of its control. But, people don’t see Yuuko as she is, they see what they want to see, viewing Yuuko as some sort of terrible and terrifying monstrosity. Much like two weeks ago, Yuuko is portrayed as something terrible, the creature that appears in countless stories and myths throughout Seikyou Academy. However, this is what people want to see, what they expect to see, and what they fear to see, the reality is that of Yuuko dressed up as a stereotypical Japanese ghost, far from frightening.
The stories of Seikyou Academy have a lot of power, changing and shifting, becoming real to those that believe in them enough. Kirie and Momoe are as frightened of these stories as anyone else, with Momoe succumbing to the power of one. The atmosphere in the room is such that Momoe begins to truly believe the idea of a heartless anatomical model, and her belief becomes reality, or at least, her reality, threatening to suck her in. Kirie on the other hand sees it for what it is, a simple anatomical model, however, the power of the story still has an effect on her. The power of stories can consequently not be underestimated, and even though you may see the truth that is before your eyes like Kirie does, the story itself has already subtly changed your perception of reality.
While Kirie may be able to see the truth in front of her, acknowledging the power of stories and the atmosphere that they can instil on a particular place, she is still affected by them. She is more affected by the stories (as yet untold) that she knows about Yuuko, along with ideas to do with her family heritage. Her change in appearance while dressed as a maid turns Kirie, who was already beautiful, into someone who is both stunning, but also cute in her flustered behaviour and mannerisms. But, she is still jealous of Yuuko, someone who she views as far more beautiful, sexy, and also far more adept at social interaction than she is. She is also jealous, while being afraid of her own looks, and by looking into a mirror, she can only see Yuuko.
There is the implication that she feels swallowed up by her own appearance, Kirie cannot feel like herself, always mentally comparing everything she does and how she looks to the actions of Yuuko. What Kirie sees in the haunted house is the thing that she is most afraid of, not Yuuko, but herself, she is scared of her own face, only seeing Yuuko in it. There is the implication that she feels swallowed up in the stories involving Yuuko, and since Yuuko is her grandmother’s sister, there is also the implication that the weight of her family history and background weigh heavily on her shoulders.
Over the last couple of weeks, Kirie has become increasingly embarrassed, or perhaps, jealous of Niiya and Yuuko, constantly getting agitated, but wondering why. Yuuko’s flirtatious attitude appears to be both annoying, but also frustrating for Kirie, who is the only other person who can clearly see her. Moreover, she cannot quite admit her own feelings for Niiya, and the frustration may come from the idea that Yuuko can openly flirt with Niiya since no one can really see what is happening, whereas Kirie is weighed down by her own family and fears surrounding her place in the club and the school. What’s more, she is taken aback by Niiya’s idea that falling in love does not really have anything to do with ghosts or humans.
For Niiya, Yuuko is as human as the next person, however, for up until now Kirie has been incapable of seeing Yuuko as anything other than a ghost from her families past. The stories involving Yuuko, along with her connection to the Kanoe family consequently influenced Kirie’s view of her, making her subconsciously believe in the idea of Yuuko as a vengeful ghost or spirit. Because Kirie is in a sense predisposed to fear or worry about Yuuko, her striking resemblance to the very person that she worries about and is jealous of upsets, annoys and angers her. She is also unable to live herself and see herself as someone other than a copy of Yuuko, and by putting on a wig she is only capable of seeing Yuuko in the mirror, not herself.
That Kirie is able to get over this, and finally acknowledge that the fear she felt, and the visions that she saw had nothing to do with her reality, but were what she was made to see by her own subconscious. Hence, it could be argued that Kirie has never really feared or worried about the presence of Yuuko, and was instead being controlled and influenced by the numerous stories and myths surrounding Yuuko, along with her own grandmother and the Kanoe family itself. By finally touching Yuuko at the end of the episode, we can see Kirie letting go of the notion of Yuuko as a ghost, and instead recognising and acknowledging her to be as human as anyone else.
Kirie has in a sense, finally realised what Niiya has seen all along, that Yuuko is simply another teenager just like them, and that her antics are one way in which she constantly reassures herself, and reinforces her own existence within Seikyou Academy. Yuuko’s reaction to this small, but important gesture, visibly demonstrates her pleasure at something that many may view as inconsequential. Finally there is someone else who can see, and touch her, and she is not stuck with Niiya as the sole person who is willing and capable of interacting with her as a normal human being.