Ookami Kakushi as an Allegory?

I decided to finish a few winter anime I had stopped watching during the hiatus, one of them being Ookami Kakushi. For a brief second, the anime had my complete attention, but (of course) Hiroshi was merely having a nightmare.

Instead of some horror-slash-mystery anime, what we get instead is some odd allegorical tale about isolationism and racial/cultural purity. The villagers call themselves “Godmen” (kamibito) which should raise a red flag right away. Although they claim that they are cursed and neither gods nor human themselves, it’s hard not to send an arrogant vibe when you call yourself a Godman. The Godmen also don’t help themselves by using “fallen” as a term for us humans.

Anyway, it’s against the rule in the village for any Godman to “attack” a human, but this is where the story takes an odd turn: the only threat that the Godmen ever seem to pose is sex. Yeah, there seems to be a fear of sex in anime in general, but especially so in Ookami Kakushi.

You see, the curse of the Jouga is that they’re attracted to humans. They just really, really want to make out with normal people so bad and I’m not joking about this. For even daring to kiss a human, “A God is Felled to cleanse the taint.”

I never knew kissing could be so dangerous!

I kept watching the anime to see if a terrible threat might manifest, but it’s never clear that there’s any real, tangible danger. An out of control Godman is just really attracted to humans, and if a Godman manages to attack a human, the human will then turn into a Godman. So… reproducing is wrong…? Nemuru explains that the law is in place to protect the Godmen, presumably because humans will react negatively to their existence, but if that’s the case, is it necessary to refer to the union of a Godman and a human as a “taint?” Why even assume that humans would wipe them out especially considering that the Godmen seem to be more afraid of humans than vice versa? Considering Japan’s perception of being ethnically homogeneous (which is untrue, by the way) and long history of isolationism (which isn’t completely true either), it’s not hard to see the implications being made here.

Nemuru (Ep. 9): “The Godmen are instinctively attracted to the Fallen. Right after Tsumuhana-san’s brother attacked you, he crossed a line he’s not allowed a cross. That’s why he was Felled… That’s the law. If the law weren’t there… we would all be annihilated by human society.”

Sakaki (Ep. 10): “You monsters could no longer sustain your lives on your own, so you invited people here to Jouga. You sell or rent out land and housing for cheap, and many people come, attracted by an easy life.”

So there you go — you have a situation where a culture needs the help of outsiders to keep their quaint village from dying in the modern world, but at the same time, the culture completely forbids intermixing with outsiders. Hiroshi explains that this is only necessary for peace, but we know from history that this is a dangerous argument.

Every time a restrictive and insular culture wants to maintain the status quo, the calling card has always been the concern for “peace.” It’s not like you get a slap on the wrist if you decide to take that human boy or girl to Lovers’ Lane either; the punishment is death by a gigantic scythe. Hiroshi even decides to blame outsiders like him for all of Jouga’s troubles.

So what happens next? Will the Godmen really be destroyed by humans as they feared? Will Jouga remain an isolated village? The anime cuts off there, cleverly painting the Godmen as victims. They just want peace after all.

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7 Replies to “Ookami Kakushi as an Allegory?”

  1. This makes me vaguely interested in actually finishing Ookami Kakushi; I was initially impressed with elements in the first two episodes, and I loved the atmosphere of it (summer and horror), but it just started subscribing too heavily to cheesecake and really dragged.

    Horror is actually a genre that has often been used as allegory in the matters of sex and racial/ethnic groups – think of vampires, for instance. Dracula himself was meant to be symbolic of the threat posed by continental European men toward the innocent young women of the British Isles. (Prior to that, vampires weren’t conceived of as really possessing the humanity that since has been ascribed to them.)

    1. I didn’t mean to imply horror and allegories were exclusive, just that I personally wouldn’t classify Ookami Kakushi as horror. I love the deconstruction of horror, which is why I’m sort of looking forward to High School of the Dead. Zombies and their symbolism are always fun, even if I don’t find zombies particularly threatening on the surface.

      As for vampires, yeah I know all about Dracula’s subtext. My Mina Tepes post still gets views.

      1. Oh, goodness, I completely forgot you do that post. Haha, guess you don’t need me talking about Dracula to you.

  2. Well, I think merely being attracted to humans is a bit of an understatement. They increasingly become more and more aggressive until they lose all control over who they attack. The ones we saw are only those who went off the “medication” for a few weeks. If they went without it for years, they would become even more feral; what might have started out as an intense sexual attraction might eventual devolve into something more violent. Just look at how possessive that girl and her brother become of the kid, to the point of harming him.

    The way that doctor was giving blood work and reports to the villain guy, and the way they use the fruit to quell their desires makes it seem like the Godman possess an anomaly or infection similar to Rabies. If they really “evolved” from wolves, than their blood could contain some of the savagery of their ancestors; something beneficial earlier in their evolution that has outlived its usefulness as they try to integrate into human society. Or they could have just been weird humans all along. The anime seems to drop this part of the plot after the first five or six episodes, though…

    1. Well, I think merely being attracted to humans is a bit of an understatement. They increasingly become more and more aggressive until they lose all control over who they attack.

      The thing is… if they could pose a bigger threat, why didn’t they? Why dance around the bushes? It’s not as if this is a subtle anime. Why not have just one of them maul a human just to demonstrate the point that “yes, we are a danger to you guys so that’s why we need to “fell” anyone who goes out of control?” All we ever see is that they are intensely attracted to humans, their attraction can turn humans into one of them, and this endangers their insular society.

      If they really “evolved” from wolves, than their blood could contain some of the savagery of their ancestors; something beneficial earlier in their evolution that has outlived its usefulness as they try to integrate into human society. Or they could have just been weird humans all along.

      The Godmen could have been all of these, and normally these would be valid inferences to make, but the anime refuses to follow through on any of these possibilities. Like you said, the story hints at something bigger, more dangerous… but none of it comes to fruition. We don’t ever get to see them deliberately attack anyone (hurting Hiroshi by holding onto to him too hard doesn’t really count), they don’t even look or act remotely like wolves (how many wolves can dash through the air with giant scythes), etc.

      The whole old/new village dynamic, the secluded village surrounded by mountains, the law forbidding love between wolves and humans (yes, I know attraction is an understatement, but then again, allegories exaggerate to make a certain point and that point here is that intermixing = really bad)… this all seems to point in one general direction.

      1. Yeah, I get what you’re saying. My only guess would be that they didn’t have the Godmen perform anything worse because it would undermine the ability for the writers to paint them as the victim in the last few episodes. It seems like the story was going in a certain direction for the first eight episodes, but then 9 came and info-dumped the mystery out of the premise. After that, it shifted far more towards the allegorical route.

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