Inuyashiki Ep. 5: Role reversal

Hiro accidentally cuts himself one night, and the wound begins to bleed. Unlike most people, however, the guy is ecstatic:

“I’m back! Yes! I’m human again! Yes! Yes!”

Unfortunately, this is just a dream. We already know that he wants to feel human again, but this scene has even deeper implications: Hiro would readily give up his powers just to be normal again. But because he can’t, he’ll continue taking advantage of it any way that he can. Thankfully, the anime gives us a brief respite from all the brutal killing and sexual assault in this week’s episode. Instead, Hiro actually uses his powers for good this time albeit briefly. For perhaps the first time in a long time, Hiro visits his father and half-siblings. It’s remarkable how easily he blends in. Serial killers like Ted Bundy have always been distinguished by their charming, amiable personalities. You’d never know that their closets are full of skeletons. Anyway, this whole encounter had been set up by Hiro’s dearest mother. She’s just been diagnosed by terminal cancer, so someone needs to take the kid in. As a result, she made the difficult decision to reach out to his father. It must not have been an easy conversation.

But Hiro doesn’t want that happy family that he’s never known. After all, he feels nothing for them. So through his godlike powers, Hiro saves his mother. Has he cured cancer before? I bet he hasn’t. How does he know he could do it at all? Maybe he never really knew for sure if he could. And that’s why we see him stand nervously at school the next day, awaiting his mother’s call. Once she tells him that she is perfectly healthy, it is back to the status quo for Hiro. He quickly uses his powers for selfish gains, acquiring large sums of cash out of nowhere. He tells his mother that he used money from his part-time job in order to play the stock market, but we know that’s a lie. And even though he’s using this money to give his mother a better life, it’s a zero sum game. A better life for his mother probably means someone else will have to suffer. We can only hope he stole from Japan’s Warren Buffet or something, but we’ll never really know. Before the episode comes to an end, we see men in black suits come looking for Hiro. Is this another dream? It’s hard to imagine that our antagonist would be overwhelmed so easily. Plus, as long as he has his powers, the only person who can truly kill his mother is, well, himself:

Hiro’s mother: Something like that should be sent straight to hell.

Hiro: I…

Hiro’s mother: Huh?

Hiro: What if I was the one who did it?

Hiro’s mother: I suppose I’d die with you.

In Ichiro, we get an interesting juxtaposition to Hiro’s experiences. Naoyuki needs the old man’s help to stop Hiro, but Ichiro admits that he blacks out whenever he really has to fight. Whereas Hiro is in full control when he murders, the body does the fighting for our hero, and when he does finally come to, his opponent has already been defeated. At this very moment, Ichiro is more than just a singular entity. He’s still him, of course, but physically, he’s a killing machine. And in dire situations, the killing machine takes over completely. For now, Ichiro can at least aim it towards the correct targets, but who’s to say that this will always be the case? As a result, Naoyuki borrows a page from one of his favorite mangas and takes Ichiro to a junk yard. With metal scraps stacked upon metal scraps, it’s the perfect place for the old man to master his body. Eventually, Ichiro manages to summon enough destructive power to leave a giant, gaping hole in the ground. But he can’t change his nature so easily. We soon see him and Naoyuki visit a hospital, and there, Ichiro revives a comatose child to life.

Hiro tries to do good, but he quickly reverts back to his selfish impulses. Hurting others is the only way he can feel human. Even when he helps his mother, other than curing her cancer, he needs to hurt others in order to make her happy. On the other hand, Ichiro is one step closer in controlling the killing machine inside him, but he gets nothing from it. He is already human, and humanity compels him to save at least one person before the day is over. It’s as though humanity is a compulsion that needs to be satisfied every once in a while. Don’t you ever feel that itch to do a good deed just for the sake of it? Just to feel better about yourself? Maybe there’s a bit of selfishness in there too. Ichiro’s undoubtedly a hero, but some would say there’s always a bit of self-gain in every altruistic act. So now we have to imagine another role reversal: could we ever see Ichiro in Hiro’s shoes and vice versa? Mari, his daughter, happens to be a classmate of both Hiro and Naoyuki. By virtue of proximity alone, she’s in a rather dangerous position. Could Ichiro ever hurt others just to protect Mari? And what about the random girl — the one nicknamed “Pube-Head” despite looking like every other cute anime shoujo — in this week’s episode? Could she inspire Hiro to feel human without having to commit crimes?

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One thought on “Inuyashiki Ep. 5: Role reversal”

  1. This anime feels like a bipolar person who’ve run out of medication and go on a bender. It has interesting premise and ideas here and there, but this anime continues shooting itself on the foot due to the way that it was presented and executed. You can’t be some deep, thoughtful, and life (or humanity)-pondering anime when it f*cking suits you. That kind of shit needs commitment from the beginning to the end. What a disappointment.

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