Kyoukai no Kanata 09 – Truth and Lies
November 29, 2013 3 Comments
As discussed in last weeks post, there has been an arbitrary line placed between Youmu and Spirit Hunters, one that creates the binary division of Youmu = Bad, and Spirit Hunters = Good. However, over the last couple of episodes it has become increasingly clear that such a division does not exist, and that in many cases the roles appear to be switched. Many Youmu such as Ayaka and Ai lead relatively normal lives despite the immense power that they posses (in the case of Ayaka), and do not pose a threat to humans. They good friends with the main characters and even run their own business trading Youmu fragments. They are far from this image of a deadly force, or a mass of dangerous, bloodthirsty creatures that we as the viewers assume them to be. Furthermore, the presence of Yakimon (Sweet Potato) as Mitsuki’s familiar and pet presents us with another, more gentle side to Youmu, and one that is very different from the Hollow Shade in previous episodes. Rather it is humans, and particularly Fujima Miroku – and arguably by extension the Spirit Hunters Association – that come across as the more aggressive and dangerous, more so than most Youmu.
As the lull has come into full effect we are beginning to see the complex political intrigue that has been quietly bubbling away throughout the series slowly come to the surface. Last week we saw ‘normal’ Spirit Hunters treating the lull as a chance to make some money by attacking Youmu who would otherwise be far too powerful for them alone – they go into what can only be described as a feeding frenzy, like we are watching a pack of piranhas tearing into already dead animals. Ayaka talks about the Spirit Hunters seeing the Lull as a chance to bring down Youmu that are normally far too powerful for them to even think about attacking them. Shizuku’s actions and general demeanor suggests that to her this is little more than sport, an attitude made easier by the unpleasant, and vicious appearances of the Youmu she flushes out and fights. This theme is a continuation from a recent episode where Sakura was used by Miroku to power up his weapon by killing Youmu and allowing it to consume them. In this context Youmu are as Izumi suggested a few episodes ago, little more than livestock to be controlled as the Spirit Hunters see fit. As such, characters like Ayaka and Ai seem to be far more innocent than the humans, they are certainly powerful, and run a questionable business, but they are neither as dangerous, or as devious as the human characters we have been introduced to.
They help to demonstrate how overly simplistic the binary opposition of Youmu as bad and Spirit Hunters as god is, although this is merely an aside to the main plot of the series. The two central antagonists of this anime so far have been Fujima Miroku, and Izumi Nase – they are the characters with complex plans and questionable motives working in the background to bring them to fruition. Miroku’s goals are far from clear, he is certainly after power, but whether he is working with the Spirit Hunter’s Association, or on his own remains to be seen. His presence has been somewhat of a mystery since he was introduced, a well spoken, quite charming individual who was ostensibly in town to investigate the Hollow Shade. However, since then we have seen a character that has stayed around despite his job as investigator for one phenomenon apparently ending. Miroku’s interest in Akihito and the Hollow Shade, and their association with the Nase clan points to a political struggle within the Spirit Hunters Association. It also suggests that there are those who wish to gain more power than they currently have, with the introduction of the Youmu simply called ‘Kyoukai no Kanata’ as either an impending threat, or a way of gaining absolute control over all Spirit Hunters and by extension, humanity suggesting something far more complex.
This then brings us to Izumi Nase, the enigma of the series, a character that is harsh, cold, warm, caring, calculating, and devious; a character that has her own plans for Akihito and seems willing to sacrifice others at a moments notice if it will achieve her goals. Throughout the series Izumi has been meeting with Mirai, but we have never been given the chance to hear any of these conversations, or any reasons behind her interest in this particular individual. Certainly, Mirai comes from a cursed clan, one with immense power that has been shunned by other clans and seemingly driven to extinction. But, the interest that Izumi, a character who clearly plans out her every move, shows in Mirai pointed to the use of Mirai’s power for the sake of the Nase clan. We are finally given a glimpse into the workings of the Nase clan through this week’s brief conversation between Hiroomi and Izumi. The Spirit Hunter clan system appears to resemble the similar system used during earlier ears in Japan’s history, and in a similar fashion to the Nara, Heian, Kamakura, and many other periods in Japan’s history, clans that were considered too powerful were often dispatched so that others could take their place. In the case of Kyoukai no Kanata, the Nase clan according to Izumi has become too powerful, and the spirit Hunter’s association has been taking steps to bring them down, while Izumi has also put her own plans in motion in order to maintain the clans power, and potentially even expand it.
Akihito’s part in all of the intrigue and political wrangling seems sufficiently complicated, partly because his existence itself is a bit of a mystery. As a Half-Youmu he is already a very rare individual, and no one appears to really know how to deal with him, largely because half-Youmu are so rare that no one has ever thought it was a good idea to look at what characterises them. That he is powerful is beyond doubt, but his existence is of great interest to Miroku, and Izumi, he has been keeping a close eye on him for good, or ill throughout the series, and particularly over the last couple of episodes. But, this week we see that he may well be just another part in Izumi’s plan to strengthen the Nase clan’s power and make it impossible for other clans, or the Spirit Hunter’s Association to stop them. His powers, and the exact form that they take still remain somewhat of a mystery, with the reveal that his Youmu side may well be the physical embodiment of ‘Kyoukai no Kanata’ a little suspect in its simplicity. By manipulating Mirai into killing a weakened Akihito on the basis that his Youmu half has gone out of control, we see Izumi as a shrewd, and manipulative individual, someone who is willing to put an entire town at risk for power and stability.
But the question we must ask is, to what end? Why is Akihito’s existence, and his power so important to the Nase clan, and Miroku, and why do they want to get their hands on ‘Kyoukai no Kanata’, a shade that seems little more than a myth? Such questions may well be answered in coming weeks, and I have my doubts that Akihito’s Youmu half is really Kyoukai no Kanata, despite Hiroomi’s recent findings. It may be more likely that this mythical shade is really Akihito’s ‘father’, or at least the closest thing he has to one – which isn’t especially surprising when in Greek mythology Zeus impregnated a women he took a liking to by appearing before her as a shower of gold – although it seems likely that his inability to control such powers may well be due to the Nase clan’s meddling. Throughout all of this we are seeing how complicated, and potentially destructive the world of Spirit Hunter’s is, and how the main clans are constantly vying for power. This week also helps to strengthen the notion that Mirai’s clan was not destroyed because of any ‘curse’, but more likely because their powers were considered to be too powerful by the other clans, who may have conspired to destroy them in order to gain greater power, prestige, and social standing.