No.6’s evil finally rears its ugly head. Out of nowhere, the city decides to flatten the slums and its inhabitants. The whole thing feels a little too convenient. Nezumi and Shion were racking their brains over how best to infiltrate the correctional facility when, suddenly, the story provides them a way. What a coincidence that No.6 should stage its operation at this point in time just when our heroes are running out of time to save Safu. On the other hand, maybe the cleaning operation always takes place annually, but then why would the slums be so ill-prepared? Oh well.
A contrast in sound
No.6’s weapon of choice seems to be of the supersonic variety. Killing people with sound waves does seem a little ridiculous, but I’ll give the story a pass. After all, if sound can heal, why couldn’t it also hurt? As a result, the killer sound tanks, as silly as they look, serve as a contrast to Nezumi’s song. Look at this as yet another extension of the nature vs. artificial duality present in the anime. Nezumi sings of nature and a genuine human appreciation for it. On the other hand, the harmful sound waves emitted by No.6’s vehicles seem alien and discordant. A song from the heart is natural and and beautiful while machines can only produce sounds that hurt.
The oppressed has always relied upon music to get them through tough times. Jewish ghetto songs during Hitler’s regime served to arouse feelings of survival and humor:
“Laughter became a necessity and a channel for the hatred of the enemy; it became the catalyst for expressions of anger and bitterness when the means of struggle were still not clearly defined.” (source)
Nezumi, as noted above however, sings of nature. Why might that be? Here’s something to consider: of all the people that Nezumi is singing to, how many of them can even imagine the content of his song? It’s doubtful that any of them has ever even seen a picture of nature in such a way. As a result, to sing of beech trees and young maidens frolicking in the water is thus to sing of something phantasmagorical. Nezumi knows these people will most likely die. He’s not singing about survival for this very reason. Instead, he’s preparing them for the afterlife.
As an aside, the song sounded like one of those rustic Asian tunes.
Face to face with death
I like how the anime sets the audience up for the devastating massacre of the slum dwellers. Shion has just started to make future plans: he would save Safu and his mother, and they’d all live happily with Nezumi. Nezumi confesses that he never thinks so far into the future. In this world, you never know when death will come a-knockin’. Well, sure enough, No.6 proves Nezumi’s point. Shion also finally sees real death:
Oh sure, he saw the bee parasite kill his co-worker before his very eyes, but this is very different from watching warm bodies lying lifeless in the debris. Perhaps for the first time in Shion’s life, he has had to confront the visceral horrors of reality. We now understand Nezumi’s mindset and why he was so stubborn about so many things.
Although most of No.6’s inhabitants are innocent of any wrongdoing — hell, they’re simply ignorant of No.6’s crimes — when we watch the trucks simply dump the prisoners into the correctional facility, we can understand Nezumi’s seething hatred for the city. I’m reminded of this particular image:
In war, one expects death. Few condones or excuses it, but most of us are not naive enough to think that death wouldn’t occur in war. As a result, the greatest atrocities in history are the ones that nevertheless manage to defy our expectations. We shudder in horror of the Nazi prison camps not simply because of death, but the way the Nazis herded and slaughtered their victims like animals. No.6’s biggest crime isn’t that it mistreats the humans outside the city. No.6’s biggest crime is that it doesn’t even treat the slum dwellers as people at all. I do wonder, however, why the story waited this long to reveal No.6’s true ugliness.
There’s been some confusion over whether or not Dogkeeper is male or female. I’m going to draw a distinction between what Dogkeeper’s sex and gender actually are versus how the anime regards him or her. Dogkeeper’s sex and gender may very well be a male — I wouldn’t really know — but the anime treats Dogkeeper as distinctly female. First, Dogkeeper is used as bait to lure the No.6 official. Upon the official’s discovery of subterfuge, Rikiga makes the following ambiguous comment:
When Dogkeeper feels that Nezumi wasn’t quick enough to intervene, listen to how he or she describes the experience:
Dogkeeper: “Stupid… I hate you all. That was… that was really disgusting. I had to keep myself from screaming at you guys for not coming out… I did my best to hold it in…”
Dogkeeper’s frail figure huddled over a sink with tears streaming down his or her face evokes the idea of the victimized, female Other. Yes, men can be sexually assaulted too, and I’m not foolish enough to think otherwise. In popular culture, however, it has been ingrained in our consciousness that the victim of sexual abuse is feminine. This is why many male victims of sexual assault are so hesitant to come forward and report the crimes perpetuated against them. Male victims face ostracization because society immediately thinks of them as the vulnerable female Other. Anyway, take notice of Dogkeeper’s body language at the end of the scene:
This is just standard anime convention: female anime characters tend to rest their heads on the chests of their male counterparts like so. What am I trying to say? It’s not so important what the character’s actual sex and gender are, but how these characters are utilized within the narrative. When Shion is alone with Nezumi, he is clearly the more feminine of the two even though they are both (sexually) men. In this particular scene, Dogkeeper is clearly the more feminine of the two even though they might be both (sexually) men. And again, the feminine coincides with a status of victimization. Does this point out something particularly troubling about the narrative?
Despite the fact that the story seems somewhat open-minded about androgyny and same-sex relationships, characters are still defined by traditional notions of masculinity and femininity. I guess, if anything, I find No.6‘s message a little inconsistent or incomplete. If Nezumi is so captivating as Eve, why didn’t he play the role of bait?
As an aside, I still think Dogkeeper has deeper feelings for Nezumi. Her (I’m going to stick with this) reaction of extreme disgust tells me there’s more to the situation than just her being licked by someone she doesn’t approve of. Dogkeeper emphasizes Nezumi’s inaction. Imagine if you were sacrificing your body, thinking that your lover will intervene… but he or she doesn’t. In any case, I think Dogkeeper feels betrayed by Nezumi’s indifference.
• For the most part, I thought this week’s episode was pretty good. I didn’t like Elyurias’s “appearance,” however, as it was totally tacky:
I’m glad that most of the mysticism from last week didn’t return this episode, but I’m still not keen on the whole Elyurias revelation. It’s just so lame.
• Yoming tells Karan that the Twilight House is really just a place to execute the old. Still, I’m not sure how reliable this guy is. Yoming definitely seems unhinged. In my eyes, his crusade against No.6 seems more personal than ethical. This is most apparent when he reveals his disappointment after he learns of Karan’s involvement in the creation and construction of No.6. After all, he has no idea just how involved she was, but in his eyes, she is simply guilty by association. As a result, I don’t think Yoming is thinking rationally.
If Yoming’s disappointed in Karan, however, what is really the point of his addition to the story? If their relationship is going to go nowhere, what is really the point of his exchanges with Karan? One might cynically assume that Yoming’s purpose in the story is to provide yet another source of exposition. Plus, his resistance group might conveniently provide the heroes with the distraction they need to get out of whatever bind they find themselves in. I guess that’s a little harsh, but I don’t really see why Yoming is even in the story.
• Even in the face of danger, Shion fights to save a baby’s life. I half-expected him to have a complete breakdown as this usually occurs in stories where one of the characters is as naive and innocent as Shion.
For a moment, he descends into some sort of subconscious space and the cacophony of sounds around him almost resembles deranged laughter. I thought we had lost him at that point.
• If Nezumi’s plan was to get himself caught by No.6, why does he think Shion wouldn’t have agreed with it? Or is there something more sinister to Nezumi’s thought process? I initially thought that Nezumi might have caused the whole manhunt to induce his own capture, but then again, No.6 was planning the cleaning operation regardless of whether or not the characters had done anything. So yeah, I guess I’m just perplexed as to why Nezumi felt he had to hide his plans from Shion.
• The slums look rather strange to me:
It looks like a painting. I’m not sure if this observation amounts to much of anything, but I figure I’d include it.