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.
KILLER STEREO SYSTEM Y’ALL
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.
Well, getting caught is one part of the plan. The actual plan is taking advantage of a massacre/abduction/human trafficking, meaning the plan itself involve the successful execution of said massacre/abduction. I’m not sure if Shion would be the type to want to be part of a plan that puts him in such an idle position in the face of a massacre. He feel like the type that’ll just go “but there must be a way we can do this and save the people in the slum”. As admirable as that may be, it’ll just end up as another headache Nezumi would want to avoid. Plus not telling Shion doesn’t exactly hinder the plan.
Well, let’s be honest though … what could Nezumi (and Shion) have done to prevent the success of the massacre? We saw the slum dwellers attempt to counter the tanks with machine guns to no avail. I really doubt Nezumi could have done any better. You could argue that since the No.6 official warned them ahead of time, had Nezumi told Shion about what the cleaning operation truly entails, Shion would have attempted to evacuate the slum dwellers. Sure, but how does this prevent the two from getting caught? They simply could have evacuated everyone and then stood waiting in the slums for the tanks to come. I doubt No.6 officials, coming face to face with empty slums, would suddenly decide not to capture Nezumi and Shion. In any case, Nezumi’s inaction seems both unethical and unnecessary.
Whether anything can actually be done is one thing, but it’s also the one thing that Shion’s thought processes does not hinge on. I don’t know how that’s even an objection, Shion’s throughout the whole series has been…naively optimistic so to speak, wanting to save No.6 from killer bees by giving them a serum, wanting to break down No.6 wall thinking it will unite everyone. Can any of that actually be done? I think we would really be missing the point to consider a question like this seriously.
Evacuating the whole town is not a simple process, supposing Shion could do that is….a huge supposition. Reason it could fail are quite excessive, would anyone believe him? can he warn that many people in that little time? where would they go? how long will it take? how do we know that there are no one from No.6 hiding among the people? I’m arguing Shion would do these things not because he might succeed, but because success factor is not one thing he consider when acting. Instead he will simply feel that he has to “do something”.
And depending on what this something is, he can endanger Nezumi’s plan either by accidentally notifying possible No.6 spies and give away info of them having an No.6 high official in custody, endanger himself trying to warn a crowd of people consisting mostly of what Nezumi would call monsters, or run around pointlessly and then feeling it’s all his fault he couldn’t do anything. At least Nezumi would have reasonable grounds to consider all of those scenarios plausible.
I don’t know what you’ve seen in Shion’s character that makes you believe that he is going to just accept a massacre is going to happen, sit down and prepare himself emotionally and psychologically for it. If anything, he’ll be trying to do something no matter how improbably it is, and in the end when he fails(as odds are clearly against him), he would likely have a heroic breakdown of “I know that was gonna happen, why can’t I prevent it, WHYYYYYYY?” Is putting Shion through that really necessary and ethical?
I think these are stretches. We simply know that the naive Shion would have tried something to help the slum dwellers. Whether or not he would have succeeded is besides the point. The original contention is whether or not Shion could actually endanger Nezumi’s plans. Sure, we could do all sorts of extraneous postulations, but let’s keep to what we’ve seen in the narrative and there’s nothing to suggest Nezumi was even considering spies. I think you’re not giving Shion enough credit.
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The simple explanation to why Nezumi did not tell Shion about the manhunt was because Nezumi wanted to protect Shion’s innocent a bit longer. He did not have the heart to tell Shion about the manhunt.
But Shion was going to see the manhunt occur with his own eyes anyway. This little bit longer is just a few days. You could also argue that had Shion been warned ahead of time, he could have prepared himself emotionally and psychologically for the trauma.
If Nezumi is so captivating as Eve, why didn’t he play the role of bait?
I think it’s because Nezumi as Eve did not fit the requirements the No.6 official had in mind. Eve is very…immaculate? Or rather, Eve’s more like a woman than a young girl. I think the client was looking for someone more unruly and child-like.
Why yes, I’m a pimp so I know these things.
Interesting observation…the slums look like they’ve been painted on the outer walls of No.6…
So the guy sought someone who specifically smelled like dogs? I still think it’s weird though to put a blonde wig on someone with as dark a complexion as Dogkeeper.
Dogkeeper is also quite short, both Eve and Shion are quite tall, taller than the official at least. Just speculating, but I thought that had been why initially.Though he did comment on the smell of animals, don’t think it’s outlandish to say it’s his kink.
Man, are tall girls out of fashion?
I think that in the novel, the official requested a small girl with tanned skin and blond hair. That’s why Inukashi wears the wig. So, Nezumi can’t be the bait because that man is more fond of little girls. Gross, I know.
Well, whether it’s in the novel or not, the anime doesn’t establish much of Dogkeeper’s role in the story. I’m sure her role is far more fleshed out in the novels, but not so much here.
Well, yeah, the anime doesn’t clarify why they choose to torture Inukashi. But the anime is doing pretty well. By the way, I love your analysis. I always read them, but I’m a little shy because I don’t write in english very well. Thank you very much.
Thanks. Your English seems fine to me, by the way. I mean, I make a ton of mistakes myself so…
Well I’ll be darned, I guess dogkeeper really is female! I think Shion realized it too when he touched her shoulders, probably noticing how small they were.
The best part was in the facility. Heck, the city itself is the only thing left that draws me in.
Yeah, the next two episodes will be interesting to see. I’m actually interested in whether or not the anime can pull off the whole dangerous prison facility better than Deadman Wonderland despite the fact that the latter depended heavily upon its setting.
Ugh, don’t even mention Deadman Wonderland. It’s more rewarding to bang your face into the wall then to watch it.
Yeah, that was a pretty horrible anime.
“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.”
In fact, Dogkeeper has already stated in the previous episodes that Nezumi used to sing to the dogs who are about to die. The song act like a form of guidance it seems.
Nezumi, also threatened Dogkeeper that he would not sing for him if he does not help him to get info about N.6
Ah, that’s an interesting callback I hadn’t considered.
Episode 9 is mostly action, which is good. I noticed that “painting” scene too. Looks almost like they accidentally output the layer with the people in it for SD, not HD, or some other technical glitch.
I’d be curious where in the novels the No. 6 manhunt gets revealed vis-a-vis the length of the overall story. The main story phases seem to be: (1) basic world-building / character introduction, (2) building up the Nezumi/Shion relationship (and secondary relationships), (3) going after No. 6 (eg: to save Safu).
The dynamic used in phase (2) seems to mostly require Shion be ignorant of No. 6’s bad side, but that puts the story in a bit of a dilemma: too much revelation of No. 6’s bad side in advance of when Shion finds out will ruin a lot of the dramatic effect of whatever event it is that leads to Shion learning the terrible truth about No. 6, but holding off too long leaves the audience scratching their heads wondering how bad could No. 6 actually be? In any case the decision is made to focus on the relationship, so we wind up postponing that revelation until phase (3), which in a series this short is one of the last episodes.
I’m going to assume similar concerns were really “why” Nezumi didn’t tell Shion about the manhunt: telling him in advance on-screen would’ve ruined our surprise at the event, and a realistic scene in which he gets informed in advance would have him ask “why?” (why does No. 6 do the manhunt?). We still don’t really know the answer to the latter question, but answering it in advance of the event would’ve taken out even more of the dramatic effect.
Similarly, it seems like Yoming mainly exists to give Karan something to do: we know that Shion and Safu both got scooped up within a few hours of starting to poke their noses where it doesn’t belong, and so without Yoming in the story we’d either have Karan sitting around looking worried, Karan also going to the correctional facility, or Karan being anomalously successful probing the secrets of No. 6; all of those options are bad for various reasons. The anime seems determined to keep Karan as a major character, which means she needs something to do, hence Yoming, or so it seems. I’d be curious how significant of a role Karan and Yoming have in the novels.
Or, in short: we’re getting into an area of the story where more of the decisions seem to be driven first by consideration of drama and narrative and only secondly by characters and motivations. To a point all good stories *are* driven by those considerations, but the best ones manage to make the needs of the narrative and the character’s needs align just-so.
Anyways, moving on: the ultrasonic blasters seem like a nice way to say “this is happening in the future”. Given that, though, the choice of ultrasonic blasters as the weapon of the future seems chosen to draw out the parallel with Nezumi’s singing. In particular the fact that Nezumi’s songs send people to heaven and the ultrasonic blasters *also* send people to heaven seems too cute to be accidental.
Also: the troublesome thing with the Dogkeeper’s gender at this point is that nothing that’s happened up to now in the anime actually makes it seem like there’s any confusion over the Dogkeeper’s gender within the story world. The viewer might be in doubt — and even then, only due to the subs erroneously using male-gendered pronouns a few times — but the Dogkeeper’s been treated as a woman so consistently that for Shion to be surprised to discover the Dogkeeper is a woman just seems off within the world of the story. There’s been a relative lack of fourth-wall breaking throughout the series and that seemed like a needless shout-out to something only the audience would be thinking about.
Finally: I’m actually relieved Elyurias is just some streaming rays of lights; I was afraid it’d be some smiling greek goddess talking with Safu in another “vision” scene.
Here’s the more elegant solution I might suggest: keep Nezumi in the dark too. He doesn’t know what the manhunt entails and thus nobody has to keep a secret from anyone for elusive motives. Of course, one might say, “But Nezumi planned on getting caught.” Well, it didn’t have to be planned. They could’ve been stumped on how best to save Safu, get themselves caught, and make the best of the situation. Nezumi doesn’t have to be this wunderkind who is one step ahead of everyone, including No.6.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t really have anything to do. Like you said, without Yoming, Karan would just sit around and look worried. But with Yoming, she’s still just sitting around and looking worried, except she now creepy dude in her ear.
I’m just not certain what exactly Shion discovered. Plus, how could he have discovered anything just in that short moment? Finally, so what? What does Dogkeeper’s sex/gender have to do with, well, anything?
I’d rather have her be nothing, to be honest. Not everything has to be explicit and spelled out. Yes, Elyurias was a goddess and the scientists are doing kooky stuff to Safu that will probably imbue the poor girl with the being’s traits or whatnot. We didn’t need to know what Elyurias sounded like or how she would appear to the characters. It’s just unnecessary.
I think your solution is arguably better, and it points to a small failure of imagination on the writer(s) here (whether novel or anime, not sure). It’d work better if the plan was to get caught doing X, then the manhunt happens as a surprise to everyone (this time no. 6 really is wiping everyone out), and so things are roughly going according to plan but the manhunt scenario throws in an added uncertainty factor.
I’d rather omit Elyurias too but since we’re past that at least she’s not a literal gaia personification (at least not yet). Agreed it might’ve come out better if Safu is in communication with her but we don’t see what that entails.
Dogkeeper gender doesn’t really matter much, but it perhaps does here just b/c the Dogkeeper’s the choice of honey trap for the No. 6 official. I dunno what Shion saw, but I’m sure that scene’s in there in part for the humorous look on his face when he lets go of her.
More action next week it looks like.
I have a feeling we’ll just get action from now till the end, anyway. They’re done setting the stage. It’s time to finish the job. I just hope the Safu-Elyurias amalgamation isn’t presented with a heavy hand.
I thought that the massacre was nothing more than a convenient plot point. An effective one, granted, but it served little purpose other than to illustrate No.6’s cruelty, and allow the infiltration of the research facility. If they got rid of the whole business with the nature deity, this’d be quite good, but that’s the one thing holding it down.
As for Dogkeeper… well yeah, the actual sex doesn’t matter since he/she is pretty much identified as female. At least it’s not a focal point of the story, where they have to dwell on it just to whittle away precious minutes.
This beats anime where nothing seems to have a purpose. I’m thinking of Mahiru’s introduction to KamiDolls.
The “manhunt” happened because the official in No.6 wanted the best “sample”. It does serve a purpose.
How exactly do you attain the best sample by indiscriminately blasting everyone with death sound waves for most of the manhunt?
This is an extremely old post, but what the hell. iirc, the manhunt’s purpose was population control. The “sample” thing was just a supplement.
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