No.6 Ep. 10: “But I don’t want you to change.”

There have been some complaints by other bloggers that it’s hard to understand why the characters of this anime do the things that they do. At the heart of the matter is Nezumi’s intentions. What exactly is he after? I guess I haven’t addressed this particular issue in any of my write-ups for No.6 because I’ve never really seen the problems that others were talking about. In any case, I think this episode pretty much explicitly lays Nezumi’s soul bare for all of us to see.

To understand Nezumi and his affinity for Shion, we must go back to the very first episode of the series. Here, we see a young boy being pursued by authority. Wounded and with nowhere to turn, he suddenly hears a cry of desperation in the raging storm — Shion’s cry. With no expectations, Nezumi takes a chance and sneaks into Shion’s room. He was prepared to take Shion’s life if necessary. The rest, as we know, is history.

One has to understand that Nezumi lives in a dog-eat-dog (figuratively since the dogs in the anime are actually quite nice) world where survival is the utmost concern. This isn’t exactly a secret either; the anime hasn’t been coy at all about this particular subject. Characters like Rikiga are even willing to exploit others for his own personal gain. But all of a sudden, Nezumi meets another boy who isn’t wholly self-interested. For the first time, Nezumi encounters someone who has the ability to actually care for another living being, be it a human or not.

And like any person who encounters something rare — imagine it as if he had stumbled upon a mysterious artifact — Nezumi suddenly gets the urge to protect Shion. I know this might seem silly to us. After all, if we meet a nice person, we don’t exactly think we should smother the hell out of them. But in the world of No.6, Shion is an anomaly. In a world where exploitation materializes as parasitic bees of biblical proportions, Shion is valuable. It’s not just Nezumi who thinks his friend is strange and different. In Rikiga’s own words, the former No.6 inhabitant is an angel.

We can see, then, why Nezumi rescued Shion from No.6. This is also why Nezumi goes to such great lengths to protect Shion from the horrors of reality. At times, Nezumi’s over-protectiveness can even appear paternalistic. Throughout this week’s episode, Nezumi nervously observes his friend as they attempt to rescue Safu. All of a sudden, Shion is acting rather different to say the least. He suddenly takes charge, is full of confidence, and, as Nezumi watches in horror, Shion murders a No.6 soldier mercilessly. Nezumi thus fears that his worst nightmares might’ve come true: this wonderful angel — this Happy Prince — that Nezumi had sought so hard to protect is being tarnished by cruel, brutal reality.

Of course, Shion snaps out of his strange behavior and everything seems to be okay for the time being… but why did Shion change to begin with? Hm.

What changed?
There are three main possibilities that come to mind. First, we have to consider the theory most likely in Nezumi’s head: it is all his fault. Throughout the series, Nezumi has been derisive whenever Shion spouts one of his naive, let’s-save-the-world ideas. The former has constantly instilled in the latter the idea that the world is black and white and that survival is all that matters. While Shion may have had his doubts with Nezumi’s self-interested philosophy, over time, it isn’t hard to imagine that Shion may have adopted Nezumi’s way of thinking.

But did Shion really murder the soldier at the end of the episode? On the surface, yes, but it is quite apparent that there is something off about Shion’s eyes in this particular scene. In anime, where eyes are often the emphasis of a character’s face, Shion’s eyes might very well be the key to understanding his change of character. When Shion suddenly snaps out of his strange behavior, his pupils visibly change before us. In other words, was Shion possessed?

Let’s first consider whether or not Shion was self-possessed. Shion going into rage isn’t without precedent: when Rikiga insulted Nezumi in the fourth (I think) episode of the series, Shion flew into a rage. In this episode, Nezumi has been shot twice and the No.6 soldier is moments away from killing Nezumi. It isn’t hard to imagine, then, that Shion may have snapped in this particular moment in order to “avenge” Nezumi.

There is, however, quite a noticeable difference between how Shion flew into a rage with Rikiga early in the series and how he acts at the end of this penultimate episode. Shion calmly takes down the soldier with a single shot from a distance even though one can presume that this naive character has never handled any sort of firearms before. Furthermore, Shion casually strolls up to the wounded soldier and executes him. This is a far cry from any murder of passion. In other words, is it possible that Shion might have been possessed by a heartless monster?

Throughout the episode, Safu’s voice has been guiding her saviors, especially Shion, to her rescue. The way the episode ends, with Safu standing all by her lonesome in a laboratory only to turn and smile strangely at our heroes, certainly suggests an omen of grave portent for things to come. Essentially, is Elyurias as benevolent as she had previously been portrayed? Is Elyurias pulling Safu’s strings, who, in turn, is pulling Shion’s strings?

The mass grave
The imagery near the start of the anime is striking. After Shion and Nezumi are dumped into the correctional facility, they land atop thousands upon thousands of dead human bodies. One even questions No.6’s purpose in capturing the city’s outsiders only to leave their prisoners stranded in a sea of rotting corpses. I won’t, however, spend any of my time trying to decode the city’s bizarre intentions.

Instead, I am interested in Shion’s escape from “hell.” The mass grave instantly recalls to mind the horrible photographs to emerge from numerous historical conflicts. I immediately thought of the Bosnian War of the late 90s, but honestly, similar imagery unfortunately accompanies any act of genocide. I also thought of the shocking final episodes to Berserk. There, we saw poor ol’ Guts climb a wall of skulls in a hellish landscape. I struggled, however, to find any thematic parallels between Berserk and No.6.

We can, of course, just analyze the scene on its own. In any culture, even though the deceased is devoid of any signs of life, we nevertheless treat a person’s body with respect and honor. There is, however, no dignity in a mass grave. In order for Shion to save Safu, he must literally step upon countless bodies. Essentially, he has to desecrate the deceased in order to fulfill his goals. And this is a very important development because Shion has always been sort of a saint in the story.

At this very moment, however, Shion is preoccupied with only a single goal: save Safu. And while this goal appears selfless, it isn’t wholly so. Shion’s willingness to disrespect the dead, even if there was really nothing he could do about it, illustrates how one will inevitably dirty oneself in order to get ahead in life. Even if some malevolent spirit ends up being the reason for Shion’s bizarre behavior in this week’s episode, the image of Shion climbing a wall of corpses serves as an ironic metaphor: as he literally ascends upon the deceased, his character necessarily descends.

Everything else
• Operation: Save Safu creates an unlikely duo in Dogkeeper and Rikiga. As I watch Rikiga go along with Nezumi’s plans, however, I’m starting to wonder if the guy isn’t actually as bad as I had previously thought. He’ll always be the guy who exploits young women for his own profit, but maybe Rikiga won’t backstab our heroes after all.

• Dogkeeper claims that she has no clue what to do with a baby, but when she has the child in her arms, the kid immediately stops crying. Eh, I’m not a fan of how this all unfolded.

It’s a minor scene that doesn’t really affect the anime’s story one way or another, but I feel as though it reinforces a couple gender stereotypes without really addressing any of the deeper implications. Of course, with so little time left, the anime has better things to worry about, but in that case, why even bother to include the scene at all?

• The animation quality took a major drop at times throughout the episode, especially during the struggle at the end.

I wonder if the team working on this anime just isn’t particularly well-versed with action scenes.

• Other than the horrific mass grave at the start of the episode, the interior of the correctional facility didn’t really meet my expectations. I was expecting some gruesome human experimentation or something similar. But like Deadman Wonderland, all we saw were stark, cold corridors filled with nothing. Plus, Nezumi previously claimed that taking down the correctional facility would also undo No.6. We saw nothing to really lend credence to this idea, but I suppose we do have an episode left for the anime to address this particular issue.

• The little girl stares at the large honeycomb structure and fear suddenly overtakes her. As always, children in anime always seem to have extrasensory perception.

With Rikiga possibly being a good guy, however, I’m going to put my money on Elyurias. Although I’m sure it’s very unlikely that the goddess is actually evil, I think this sudden twist would somewhat redeem the anime’s late turn to mysticism. Something does bother me about the screenshot above though: the absolute uniformity of every single building except for Karan’s bakery (the window’s slightly different). While No.6 enforcing conformity isn’t a stretch, it’s hard not to think the animators are just being lazy here.

21 thoughts on “No.6 Ep. 10: “But I don’t want you to change.”

  1. wanderer

    Yup, pretty much all action this week. Too much up in the air still to have much to comment on, but with the finale there’ll hopefully be a lot to chew on. There’s certainly a lot that still needs to happen (Safu showdown, whatever Yoming’s up to, etc.).

    Safu looks like she’ll be the voice of No. 6 in the final episode, especially given the lack of any explicit villains up until now; if so she’s certainly got a lot of explaining to do, too (the bees, Elyurias, and what happened to her, etc.).

    There’s still time for Rikiga to go bad in the final episode. As-is if he stays a good guy I feel like we missed something in the adaption process, b/c he’s turned into more of a good guy than his reputation warrants (and we’ve not seen his transition to good-guy on-screen, either). Oh well.

    Character Motivation: I agree it isn’t that hard to tell what characters are motivated by / doing. I would say that there’s less room for sudden character shifts (eg: in Shion) to seem solid, but that’s mostly due to pacing. In the novel / a longer adaption there’d be room for Shion to “go over to the darkside” (at least for awhile, until Nezumi pulls him back over), but in something this short his being controlled by Safu or Elyurias (or just having his instincts tugged upon a bit) might actually work better than actual character change given the time constraints. We’ll hopefully find out what’s up next week.

    About the Baby: there’s the cute scene right at the opening where the Dogkeeper is standing in the rubble, repeats her question (the people of no 6 are the same as us, eh?), and then her dog runs up having sniffed out a bag of gold pieces. That is enough irony, but to add to it you have the dog run up with the baby, which helps draw out the contrast between what the Dogkeeper’s doing (or, at least, having her dogs do) and what she *could* be doing. Other than that the baby still seems tacked-on.

    Minor comment: the “reality” word Nezumi uses when talking with Shion in the pile of corpses is the same one (genjitsu) Shion uses in ep 2 or 3 (there: Shion: genjitsu, Safu: jijitsu, Nezumi: riaru). Probably some deliberate diction choice but hard to say for sure.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      if so she’s certainly got a lot of explaining to do, too (the bees, Elyurias, and what happened to her, etc.).

      Almost seems like too much for a single episode to cover and also have the heroes make their getaway. It’s becoming ever the more apparent that No.6 bit off more than it could chew.

      There’s still time for Rikiga to go bad in the final episode.

      I just don’t think there’s enough time to throw in a backstabbing scheme.

      I would say that there’s less room for sudden character shifts (eg: in Shion) to seem solid

      I’m still of the belief that something or someone momentarily seized control of Shion. Otherwise, his behavior just doesn’t make much sense to me. Yeah, you could attribute this to poor pacing on the anime’s part, but I’m still on the fence.

      About the Baby

      That’s an interesting observation.

      the “reality” word Nezumi uses when talking with Shion in the pile of corpses is the same one (genjitsu) Shion uses in ep 2 or 3

      Blending of the minds, maybe? After spending this much time together, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that the two could have started to think alike.

      Reply
      1. wanderer

        Yeah, I was taking it for granted that what’s supposed to have happened by now is that some of Shion’s character attributes have rubbed off on Nezumi (and from Nezumi’s perspective the fact that some of his traits have rubbed off on Shion is some kind of tragedy). I say “supposed to” because the rapid pace makes it harder to show that this has happened, and we’re left essentially reliant on Nezumi’s monologues to let us know this has happened.

        Hence pointing out the diction: it’s a small thing that seems to call back to ep 2 and help solidify the way the characters have rubbed off on each other, and isn’t apparent from the subtitles alone.

        I agree a backstabbing scene is too long; most there’d be time for is a moment’s hesitation leading to him causing problems (or getting shot, etc.). That said, if he’s going to wind up essentially a “good guy” it definitely seems like we missed out on some of his character development due to schedule constraints.

        Oh well, one more week to find out just how much they bit off and how the can chew.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Say, the others have pointed out something about Shion stumbling upon Safu’s grandmother’s knitting pin. What’s your take on it?

          Reply
        2. wanderer

          Knitting pin: I saw the comments below. I saw that in the show and didn’t recognize it but I’m pretty sure that’s the correct identification.

          It’s a good catch and I’m glad it got spotted but until everything’s over I’d want to hold off on reading too much into it, especially since it hasn’t really been used yet.

          For now it seems to confirm Safu’s grandma didn’t die a natural death. It could get used for all kinds of things next episode, like your suggestion of snapping Safu out of her robot-like state, or some tackier things like someone getting stabbed with it (eg b/c it *doesn’t* snap Safu out of whatever she’s into).

          To the extent I’d hazard reading too much into it now I’d go back to the matching “charlie brown”-esque sweaters the grandmother knitted for Shion and Safu — some kind of similar-yet-different symbolism, blah blah — but don’t have a clue how to tie that into finding the knitting pin in the corpse pile, so I think I’ll hold off until it’s over and we see what comes of the knitting pin, if anything.

          Reply
  2. Ryan R

    That last image you put up has made something click for me. If you replaced those No. 6 city symbols with a certain symbol that was frequently seen in WW II-era Germany, a lot of analogies between this show and the real world fall into place.

    This is especially if you take into account the mass graves. The term “cleansing” came up once or twice in this anime too, IIRC, in reference to procedures taken to wipe out the people living outside the walls of No. 6.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      The only thing is that these totalitarian regimes like the Nazi were persecuting a specific group. These real world conflicts were almost always racially motivated. In No.6, it’s just “them vs. us” where “them” is some vague collection of dissenters. While the analogy fits, it’s not as powerful as it could be.

      Reply
  3. Richfeet

    So Shion’s becoming rogue huh? Climbing a pile of dead bodies can do that to a man. Nezumi is raised that way of dog eat dog though Shion is how do I put it? Shion doesn’t want too be seen as weak to Nezumi. Always having to be rescued and stuff. He wants to show he’ll follow his friend in this endeavor, even at the risk of losing his first home. The problem is that Shion doesn’t know that he is trying a bit to hard in the heartless department. The instant personality shift is throwing Nezumi off his game. Shion is the only good thing he’s gotten out of NO. 6. Right now Shion is showing betrayal to his own kin at the expense of his friend’s mission. Nezumi cant bear to see the only one in No 6 who showed him compassion turn into a heartless murderer. It kind of reminds me of Blue Gender, except that was from B-cells and this is Shion’s choice.

    Is Safu a bad guy now? Looks that way.

    About that baby and the dog, I look forward to many future mothers’ days.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      About that baby and the dog, I look forward to many future mothers’ days.

      That’s the funniest thing I’ve read today.

      Reply
  4. AceofHearts

    Anyone else notice that when Sion falls down the mountain of corpses that he catches himself on a knitting needle? Hello Safu’s Grandma!

    Reply
    1. Richfeet

      Whoa really? That’s… (sob), granny… whoa, wait a sec, i thought they put her in a coffin. That was for show? I guess privileged or not, you going the same site anyway.

      Reply
    2. E Minor Post author

      Hm, I didn’t catch that. I’ll have to rewatch the scene whenever someone besides HorribleSubs puts out their version of the episode.

      Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Ah, I see. I bet it’ll be used to snap Safu out of her… well, whatever it is that she’s going through at the moment.

          Reply
          1. E Minor Post author

            Yeah, I’m fine with the latter as long as the main ideas are addressed, i.e. Elyurias, the fate of the city, the bee parasites.

            Reply
    3. a bystander (@seelosopher)

      For a second, I was doubting myself after thinking I was the only one who saw that! To me, that was one of the more important elements in that scene: it shows that the pile of corpses was composed of more than just outsiders and rebels, but just anyone who the city deemed disposable.

      Reply
  5. Mira

    I don’t understand why some people can’t comprehend why the characters act the way they do just because the anime is being a bit more subtle with the characterization and interaction.

    I really wonder what this magical goddess Elyurias is up to. Safu’s giving me the creeps.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I dunno. I guess because the characters are possibly gay or something, people act as if their motivations are even more elusive than usual.

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Notes of No.6 Episode 10 | Organization Anti Social Geniuses

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