Kyoukai no Kanata 03 – The Shadows of the Damned
October 20, 2013 3 Comments
Throughout these early episodes of Kyoukai no Kanata it has become obvious that Mirai truly believes that she is from a cursed bloodline and is therefore a cursed individual who may hurt anyone she gets close too. This is further backed up by the latest revelations that she has already killed someone, a good friend in fact, thus reinforcing her already negative attitude towards her own existence and that of her clan. Here we see how easily negative viewpoints and attitudes can be internalised by an individual, to the point where they begin to believe them to be true. We do not know if Mirai’s clan is cursed, or destructive, although it is arguably the case that they were neither, and it is a label they acquired from other Spirit Hunter clans. As I have mentioned in the last couple of posts, blood plays a significant role in Shinto, being a source of pollution, and through the creation myth of Izanagi and Izanami a source of death and destruction for humanity. It can therefore be argued that the ‘cursed existence’ of a clan with the ability to manipulate blood can be directly linked to their abilities, and perhaps a suspicion that they are somehow linked to the very Youmu that the clans are supposed to hunt.
Fear of the unknown, or fear of something that may go against the prevailing belief system can result in individuals or entire groups being labelled as cursed or shunned from society as unclean or destructive. This label, coupled with Mirai’s own issues surrounding her foster families daughter lead her to shun company and attempt to carry out her own form of revenge, or perhaps atonement for a sin she believes she has committed in the past. This comes across as a very narrow minded approach to her own life, ands that of being a Spirit Hunter. Similarly, her obsession with the Hollow Shadow and its part in possessing her foster families daughter (Inami Sakura) leading to her death at Mirai’s hands also demonstrates how blinkered Mirai really is. She forces Akihito aside, accusing him of not understanding the pain she is going through and making certain assumptions about his life. The idea that he is somehow leading a happy, carefree life at first glance appears to be perfectly true. Akihito is in the Literature Club, he is friends with Mitsuki and Hiroomi, ad also gets on with Ai and Ayaka, so on the outside his life seems to be fairly happy and without any worries.
But, if we look a little closer Akihito may not have the carefree and happy life that outward appearances suggest. It’s hard to tell what sort of relationship he has with Mitsuki and Hiroomi, they do seem to be friends, and yet there also seems to be a fair amount of tension between them. Judging by Mitsuki’s comments in episode one where she whispers to Akihito ‘if only you could die’, coupled with her other warnings throughout these last three episodes, it could be argued that Akihito is actually under surveillance. As a half Youmu he may possess immense strength and power (even if he has yet to show any of it), and his very existence seems to be a tricky subject for the local Spirit Hunters. The laws of humanity don’t govern him since he is immortal, but because he isn’t a full Youmu, Akihito may also be exempt from the rules of Spirit Hunters. This position between the rules of these two worlds is a particularly tricky one, especially when we take into account the brief flashback at the beginning of last weeks episode with Akihito in a field, hands covered in blood. As such, he obviously doesn’t live the sort of carefree existence that Mirai accuses him of having, and instead of really trying to understand others, she continues to carry around a persecution complex, believing that she lives a truly horrible life, while others are happy. Akihito’s appearance during the fight between Mirai and Sakura, coupled with his outburst at the end shows how frustrated he is with Mirai’s attitude, along with demonstrating his willingness to ignore warnings from the Nase clan, which may also be construed as thinly veiled threats.
One final point of interest that encompasses all of Kyoukai no Kanata’s main characters is the Youmu and how different people perceive their existence. Fujima Miroku’s appearance firstly points to how finely poised the Spirit Hunter world is, with a bureau (The Spirit Hunter Association’s Obervation Bureau to be exact) and investigators overseeing proceedings, perhaps pointing to a time when such institutions didn’t exist and certain clans gained significantly more power than others. His presence in the Nase household also potentially points to a conflict between particular factions, with Mirai and Akihito as two anomalous existences right in the middle. Fujima also brings up the fascinating debate of what Youmu are, and their place within the world by suggesting that they are the materialisation of humanities resentment, the dark core of peoples dreams, and that as long as humanity remains, so to will Youmu. If we follow this train of thought then the Spirit Hunters are merely there to control the Youmu population and stop them from running out of control. It’s an interesting thought where Youmu are merely the crystallisation of humanities darkness, and if we take Nase Izumi’s comment into account Youmu are merely destructive monsters.
The proiblem with this view is the existence of Akihito, a half-Youmu with a Spirit Hunter mother and a Youmu ‘father’ – although it may not entirely be male as Youmu like many spirits in Japanese mythology and folk tales can ambiguous about their gender, often switching between male and female depending on the situation – suggesting that Youmu may not be the sort of negative forces that Fujima in particular suggest they are. The Youmu in this episode are clearly quite aggressive, partly because the Hollow Shadow’s presence seems to have whipped them into a frenzy, but whether they are merely monsters remains to be seen. Izumi’s comment may also help to demonstrate how difficult a time Akihito has if the Nase clan sees Youmu as monsters they quite clearly see his existence as potentially dangerous as well. Overall we are left with a feel of ambiguity, a world where nothing is quite as it seems, and where the main characters are caught between two different worlds and sets of views. Mirai is struggling to atone for her past mistakes, while Akihito lives a precarious existence, watched over by wary Spirit Hunters who may not think twice about dispatching him they consider him to pose a significant threat.