Kyoukai no Kanata 04 – The debt that had to be paid
October 26, 2013 1 Comment
As we have seen already, the cursed blood that Mirai has controls how she views the world and her place within society. It is the source of her hatred, anger, pain, and suffering, something that has shaped her perception of her own worth and how people should treat her. Throughout the last three episodes Mirai has consistently tried to distance herself from Akihito, constantly pushing him away by saying that he is different from her, someone with friends, who has a happy, carefree life. Mirai has thus internalised the negativity of individuals around her, truly believing that her clans blood is truly cursed. Interestingly, Sakura Inami reinforces this negative view by describing her as a ‘Shinigami’, a god of death with the power to destroy the land around her with blood that falls like acid rain and purges the land of life. It is easy to see why Mirai’s clan is so maligned when the full power of her blood is unleashed, melting away the trees and leaving the landscape around her barren and scarred.
When we take this destructive power into consideration it is easy to see why Mirai seems to hate her own existence, and wishes that she wasn’t a Spirit Hunter. It would be easy to tell her to quit, to walk away from all of these problems and live a relatively normal life until we consider the concept of ‘on’, a fusion of bestowed benefit and incurred debt. All Japanese are born with ‘on’, they are indebted to their families ancestors for continuing the family and allowing them to be born, they are indebted to their parents for conceiving them, and they are indebted to numerous other individuals from relatives to doctors. Throughout life they will continue to acquire ‘on’, be it borrowing money from friends, a teacher, a coach on a sports team, and such debt must be reciprocated in due time. Now, if we look at Mirai’s case we see an individual who is indebted to the Inami family who took her in, raised her, and taught her to control her vast power. She is also indebted to Yui Inami, a good friend who she was forced to kill when the Hollow Shade took control of her, this deepening Mirai’s feelings of being in debt to the Inami family.
We must also take into account the notions of giri/ninjo (duty/human feelings) when exploring Mirai’s actions, and how she approaches her own existence and its place within the world of Spirit Hunters and Youmu. We see a figure who feels duty bound as the last member (at least as far as we know) of such a powerful Spirit Hunter clan to continue their work and hunt down Youmu. Furthermore she must carry out her duty to as an expression of respect for the Inami clan that took her in and taught her how to control her abilities. Furthermore, Mirai clearly feels responsible for the death of Yui – partly because she was the one who ultimately killed her, but also because Mirai has internalised the negativity surrounding her clan – and clearly believes that she must track down and destroy the Hollow Shade as recompense for killing the Inami clans newest generation. Her duty is that of a Spirit Hunter, and yet her internalised feelings is that of a lonely individual who hates her own blood and curses her fate as the sole surviving member of her clan. We have already seen Mirai brush Akihito aside, saying that she must do her duty, but also talking about how she wishes to end this and never have to be a Spirit Hunter again. The struggle between giri and ninjo goes to the heart of Mirai’s current position – and can be seen in samurai/yakuza films, and even many anime or series set in contemporary Japan – and helps to explain why she continues to chase after Youmu despite cursing her own existence.
Mirai also makes various judgments about the people around her based on her own experiences. She wrongfully assumes that Akihito must live a wonderful, carefree life since he is surrounded by friends, and gets on well with Ayaka and Ai Shindou. However, Akihito lives a complicated life, more complicated, and also potentially more dangerous than anything Mirai could possibly imagine. As we see in this weeks episode we see how precarious Akihito’s position truly is, and also how dangerous he can be when uncontrolled. Because he helps Mirai he puts himself, and everyone around in great danger, with his Youmu half awakening and unleashing the sort of destructive power that the Hollow Shade can’t possibly match. We now see why so many strong Spirit Hunters, and Youmu surround him, they are his keepers, his watchers, and they aren’t there to protect him but to protect everyone from him. It is quite possible that the scars on Hiroomi’s back are a direct result of Akihito’s powers running wild at some point in the distant path. Furthermore, the destruction that he wreaks on the landscape, and the scale of his immense powers suggests that Akihito has the blood of numerous individuals on his hands.
In this respect we see how wrong Mirai was about him, and we see how little she really understands his existence. It is possible to look at the lives of Akihito and those who surround him in terms of Honne and Tatemae, that is one’s true feelings (honne), and the façade or public appearance (tatemae). Akihito knows he is potentially very dangerous, and knows the consequences of his powers going out of control, he also knows that although he has childhood friends in Hiroomi and Mitsuki, they are more his watchers now. In a similar fashion, Hiroomi, Mitsuki, Shizuku, and Ayaka are kind to Akihito and seem to treat his as a normal individual. But this is little more than a façade, and underneath we have an individual who is possibly one of the more powerful Youmu in existence, and those who keep him hidden and keep him under control. The powerful individuals that surround Akihito are there so that he cannot possibly come to harm – unless he decides to help Mirai as in this episode. This doesn’t mean that these people don’t care for Akihito; in fact it could be argued that they would hardly go to such lengths to suppress his power if they didn’t at least care for him in some way. Judging by the destruction that Akihito caused it would be simpler to kill him than keep his Youmu half suppressed. And yet, he continues to live a life that is far from carefree, and has to live with the possibility that he could go berserk and potentially destroy everyone he knows.
There is also a mysterious force at work, one that may be using the power of the Youmu for their own, possibly nefarious purposes. The Nase clan is far from innocent, and while Hiroomi and Mitsuki try to balance their duty and friendship with Akihito, Izumi seems to be up to something potentially very sinister. Furthermore, the Spirit Hunter bureau seems to know about Akihito, and it is implied that Fujima Miroku wasn’t there to check up on the Hollow Shade, but to observe Akihito and determine how powerful he really is. What we are beginning to see though is how complex the society of Spirit Hunters and Youmu really is. To be an outsider, or someone who an ability considered to be dangerous or odd can lead to isolation, and we now see that being a half-Youmu may more dangerous than anything Mirai could possibly imagine. Akihito remains an existence that is neither controlled by the rules of one society or the other, and as such Spirit Hunters seem to view him as dangerous, and possibly a means to gain more power. In a way Mirai and Akihito are perfect for each other, they are both outsiders, living with abilities that others consider to be curses.