Kyoukai no Kanata 10 – Truth and Lies (Slight Return)
December 7, 2013 Leave a comment
Last weeks episode helped to clarify the idea that the binary division of Youmu as bad and Spirit Hunters as good is rather problematic and glosses over the intricacies of the relationship between these two groups. We now have a better grasp of the current state of things within the series universe, while also being introduced to the political intrigue that has been one of the more subtle parts of this anime so far. What may have at first appeared to be a chance encounter between two very complicated individuals has become a clash of clans vying for power, groups that are willing to use people as pawns in order to achieve their goals. The various figures, and Youmu that have appeared in the series have all become a part of a complex web of intrigue and politics, with Mirai and Akihito firmly at the center of the Nase Clan and Spirit Hunter Associations plans.
The central antagonists in this anime so far have been Fujima Miroku and Izumi Nase – they are characters with intricate plans and questionable motives working in the background to bring them to fruition. But in this weeks episode we are finally given an insight into the devious nature of Izumi, and the lengths she will go to bring her plan to fruition. Throughout the series there have been glimpses of Izumi’s plan – the numerous meetings between her and Mirai that have either been shown, or hinted at are finally brought together to a coherent whole. What at first appeared to be a chance encounter between a clumsy girl with the power to manipulate blood, and an immortal half-youmu has become a carefully planned and orchestrated encounter aimed at saving the world. And yet it is difficult to fully believe Izumi when she talks about Akihito as if he were a monster, a beast, and part of the faceless mass of youmu waiting for a chance to strike and tear the metaphorical face of humanity off. In her description of him he lacks a personality, or any human characteristics, instead he is merely a thing, a mass of destructive energy that threatens the very existence of humanity.
The existence of ‘Kyoukai no Kanata’ is certainly a threat to humanity if its immense destructive power lives up to expectations, however, the reasons behind Izumi’s plan, and the involvement of Mirai and Akihito point to something a little more complicated than simply saving the world. Izumi has cleverly manipulated Mirai into carrying out her plan regardless of Mirai’s relationship with Akihito. She is a devious character that is willing to sacrifice others at a moments notice if it will achieve her goals, and throughout the series has consistently manipulated those around her so that the Nase Clan may maintain its position. She talks about stopping Akihito’s youmu-half before the Spirit Hunter Association discovers his identity and comes to claim him for themselves as if the Nase clan were performing an act of kindness. But in manipulating Mirai’s feelings for Akihito and essentially lying to her by suggesting that there is a way to save his life while also destroying Kyoukai no Kanata, Izumi also shows us that she is far from performing an act of kindness for the good of humanity.
Instead we are left with a look into the workings of the Nase clan and how Spirit Hunter’s have organized themselves. 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. Mirai and Akihito are at the very centre of this political wrangling precisely because they are special – Akihito’s very existence may become a threat to the Nase clan if he were used by the Spirit Hunter Association, while Mirai is the only one with the power to destroy the Kyoukai no Kanata and prevent this from happening.
This brings us back to the central relationship of the series, the one that defines the events of past episodes and helps to demonstrate how manipulative Izumi, and Miroku have been. Mirai seemed to suddenly appear in the series, a girl wielding a sword made out of blood suddenly stabbing Akihito for no apparent reason. We now know she was brought to this town because Izumi needed her, and her clans power in order to carry out her plan, but this was an important meeting, one which planted the seeds of doubt in Mirai’s mind. Instead of a faceless creature, Akihito is shown to be a relatively normal individual – albeit one who cannot seem to die and has a rather extreme fetish for glasses – but he is certainly not the destroyer of worlds Izumi makes him out to be. She is cursed, and avoided by other clans due to her abilities, and hated by the very clan who took her in and cared for her because of the incident with the Hollow Shade. Mirai has nowhere to go and is clearly reliant on the generosity of the Nase clan to survive. Akihito ostensibly lives a carefree life with nothing to worry about a claose group of good friends. But, due to his half-youmu existence, coupled with Izumi’s assertion that the youmu half is actually the Kyoukai no Kanata, Akihito’s life can hardly be called carefree, or even particularly happy. Whereas everyone around her shuns Mirai, Akihito appears to live in a cage, but unlike a caged animal, this is an invisible cage, where his best friends are also his keepers, making sure he does not go out of control and try to kill others.
The relationship between Mirai and Akihito is an important and powerful one as when they are together they feel normal, with no special abilities, or odd quirks. Instead they can laugh and cry about ‘normal’ things – although glasses and bonsai don’t seem particularly normal, in this context they are – and do not have to think about the realities they live in. The dream sequence in this weeks episode clearly demonstrates how close these two characters have become, and how much of an effect meeting Akihito has had on Mirai’s view of her own existence. Juxtaposing summer and winter provides us with an insight into the reality that Mirai has wished for, and the harsh burden she has chosen to bear. Mirai clearly enjoyed her time with Akihito, Mitsuki, Sakura, and Hrioomi despite knowing she must kill Akihito according to Izumi’s orders. It is also a time when she can be alone with Akihito, with the person she was told was a dangerous beast, but turned out to be a gently, misunderstood, and lonely individual, forced to bear the burden of being half-youmu. The winter setting however demonstrates the realities of her choice – she must live in a world where she can no longer be with Akihito, or any of the friends she has made since her arrival. She is in a harsh world; one where the loneliness of her clans cursed existence is further compounded by the knowledge that she will never see them again. Interestingly, Mitsuki’s comment that Akihito was hated, despised, and unwanted can be used to describe his, and Mirai’s lives. They are both cursed and unwanted for different reasons, and as the incense slowly burns down, Mirai finally understands who Akihito is, and why she felt so happy when he was around. In a way their relationship is much like a dream, with both characters existing outside of reality, in a place where gods and monsters reside.
One suspects that removing Akihito’s youmu-half is not as easy as Izumi suggests it to be, and that despite being Kyoukai no Kanata, there may well be an element of Akihito within the Youmu Mirai now fights. The presence of Akihito, or perhaps the shadow of Akihito within Mirai’s current winter world suggests that he was not simply possessed by a shade, but rather the Kyoukai no Kanata is as much a part of Akihito as he is a part of it. This further reinforces the idea that we cannot simply view Youmu – even those like Kyoukai no Kanata and the Hollow Shade – as purely evil, while the Spirit Hunters are warriors for justice, fighting in defence of humanity. Furthermore, we now see two individuals whose very existence goes against the current power structures of society, and who, if together could quite easily destroy the Nase clan and the Spirit Hunter’s Association. Little wonder then that Izumi plays them off against one another, manipulating their feelings and forcing them into a head-on conflict that may well have been created to destroy them both and leave the Nase clan as a indisputable power. Much like this episode with the boundary between dreams and reality blurring together, it is hard to tell where the Lies end and the Truth begins.