Kyoukai no Kanata 07 – Memories and shadows
November 14, 2013 3 Comments
Last weeks Kyoukai no Kanata served as a brilliant diversion from the main narrative of the series, one that explores ideas of cursed existences and the idea of blood as a form of pollution. It was very successful at what it did as well, providing us with another glimpse at the business of hunting and destroying spirits, albeit one that involved classic training montages, a full musical number, and the main characters apparently forgetting that they were supposed to destroy the Youmu, not entertain it. As a break from the darker themes of the series it was both entertaining, hilarious, and also rather interesting as it presents us with a different vision of Youmu and their place next to humans. Up until that point all the Youmu that this series has introduced have been particularly vicious looking creatures with murderous auras, and in the case of the Hollow Shade, a dangerous reputation for destroying Spirit Hunters that try to confront it. What last weeks episode suggests is that Youmu are far from being the evil, destructive creatures that until recently we may have assumed them to be. Instead they are merely spirits, many may be potentially dangerous, but then so are humans, and the reality of it is that many of them do not threaten the safety of humans of Spirit Hunters, providing they are left alone to get on with their own devices.
This then gives Izumi’s earlier comment about viewing Youmu in the same way that a shepherd might view their flock a new meaning, suggesting that she, and perhaps many others merely see the dark side of Youmu and use that as a means of gaining power and privilege. It may also suggest that Akihito is treat like a stray animal, or a strange half-breed that has to be controlled in much the same way that an odd looking sheep, or other animal is. Whether this is true or not, Akihito does seem to be viewed with suspicion by many, and while his immense destructive power certainly marks him out as a special individual, the amount of interest certain characters have shown in him points to all-together more sinister goings on that have yet to be revealed. Indeed, as this week’s episode demonstrated, Fujima Miroku, the Spirit Hunters Association investigator did not come to observe the Hollow Shade, but is after something very different.
The Halberd/Staff that he gave to Sakura Inami seems to have a nefarious purpose, and from the looks of things may even be a Youmu, or at least a creation that uses similar powers to Youmu. Sakura has no special powers, and relies on the weapon in order to kill Youmu, but as we have seen these last couple of weeks – implied in previous episodes and directly shown this week – it feeds on the remnants of Youmu and seems to gain its strength from them. That Miroku was using Sakura to feed the weapon, and his interest in the Hollow Sahde remnants that Izumi secretly took from Mirai points to a far larger plan that potentially involves Akihito if Miroku’s sideways glance at him in a previous episode is anything to go by. In many ways the Youmu in Kyoukai no Kanata are not the real danger, they are more like hungry predators that attack on instinct, or to defend themselves, instead it is the deviousness of Spirit Hunters that presents the greatest danger to humanity, and to our main characters.
One of the central themes of this series, and particularly this episode was the difference between normal and ‘gifted’, and how many mistakenly believe that to have special powers is a great gift. Throughout the series it has become clear that Mirai truly believes her blood to be cursed, something that she cannot escape and will only bring pain and suffering to those she associates with. In recent episodes’ things may have changed as she has decided to join a club and has gradually grown closer to Mitsuki, Akihito and Hirromi, but there still seems to be the lingering feeling that it is entirely her fault Yui died. However, the negative image of her clan, and the notion of a curse bloodline remain, with the origin story of Izanami and Izanagi demonstrating the complex relationship Japan’s belief systems have with blood. Mirai might have immense strength and amazing powers – at least amazing from an outsider’s perspective – but she still comes from a polluted clan with the power to manipulate blood. Her clans’ ability to manipulate blood is clearly considered to be destructive, perhaps even unnatural by the other hunter clans, thus leading to alienation and perhaps death.
In many respects we can see why the ability to manipulate blood is so abhorrent to many people – so far we have only seen her use a small pinprick to create a sword so sharp it can probably cut through anything. But, what if Mirai (or for arguments sake, anyone from her clan, although she is meant to be the last survivor) became angry and started manipulating the blood of those nearby, the death and destruction would be terrible. 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. 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. Sakura’s hate for Mirai partially comes from her part in Yui’s death, along with her own powerlessness in the face of danger and spirits that she is incapable of perceiving without help. This hatred has led her to be manipulated by Miroku and used as a means with which he can feed the Halberd without having to get his own hands dirty. Further, he works her own sense of powerlessness by allowing her to keep the Halberd, the very item which allows her to fight and destroy Youmu in exchange for her promise to kill Mirai.
In one respect we can see this as little more than a ruse, a means with which miroku can keep Sakura focussed while also feeding this mysterious weapon, but at the same time it may point to Mirai being a potentially very dangerous figure that could oppose his plan. Her powers are strange evn by Spirit Hunter standards, and it seems safe to assume that we have yet to fully see, or even begin to understand the scope of her powers, perhaps because she has kept them in-check, or perhaps because she herself does not know what she is capable of. What it does demonstrate is Sakura’s misinterpretation of what it means to wield power, and the various benefits that having such power may bestow. As Mirai points out to her after their battle, rather than being special, she, and Yui loved Sakura for who she is, not what she thinks she must be. The idea of having someone who isn’t a part of the Spirit Hunter world meant that they were able to move between two different aspects of society, and Sakura represented their path to a world where Youmu did not need to be fought or killed, a world without special, or cursed powers. Sakura’s mistake was to assume that having such powers automatically made you happy or special in a good way, rather than marking an individual as dangerous or destructive.